Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There Was Only One Lion

I have posted here on my blog over the years about some of the dreams I have had.

For instance, here's a post from 2010 about a nightmare that ended with the light of Jesus' face shining down on me.

Here's another post from a few months later about an encounter with a seductive demon. After I woke up, God led me to go outside at dawn to have a beautiful encounter with Him through song.

Even though my nightmares often lead to powerful, beautiful, inspirational encounters with God over the years, they usually always started with dark, sinister experiences with demons or satanic figures. I would have rather not had those experiences, so I always felt like my dreams were essentially a curse, like they were a place where Satan ruled in life, and I often question God about them. Until yesterday, I was under the assumption that the Lord had only just begun to show up in my dreams since the more recent ones have been almost totally pleasant and even heavenly.  

But there is a breathtaking passage in The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis that the Lord has used to change my mind about my dreams. The main character, Shasta, pities himself for all the terrors he has faced in his life like me pitying myself for all the nightmares.  He gives an account of all the dark, terrifying experiences he's been through to Aslan, the Christlike-figure in the story.  And Shasta and the reader is totally surprised and inspired by Aslan's response.

Here's the portion of the story I am talking about.

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the Tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since had had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.

“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and …”

“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the lion.”

And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

I have read all the Narnia stories and I remember reading and loving and even weeping over this particular portion of The Horse and His Boy, but I had forgotten all about it until yesterday when I read it on my friend's blog

After I read her blog post that included this passage, I shared my dream with her. When she read my post, she said kindly, "I need dreams like that!"  To that, I told her, "I think we all do!"  Then she said my dream was "very refreshing."  And to that I said, "It is.  Such a gift. They are all gifts. Even the bad ones led me to understand what evils were in my life..." And that's when it hit me.

In the middle of my conversation with my friend, I saw a picture in my head of a lion running through the night, through my nightmares, back and forth, chasing me through all the nightmares I've ever had.  He had been there the whole time, running so ferociously that I misunderstood his intent.  But I realized all at once that the lion, THE LION, had only ever been driving me through my nightmares, out of the darkness and into light.

Years ago, I would have terrible dreams where I was molested by demons in my sleep.  Those experiences were terrifying, traumatic, and I questioned God, "How can you let this happen to me if you love me and if I belong to You?"  My husband and I sought counsel from our pastors several times over my nightmares and dreams.  Over the years, they counseled us, encouraged us, and taught us about spiritual warfare. At the beginning of it all, we really had no idea there even was such a thing.  They met us at church, came to our house, prayed with us, prayed for us, really battled for us spiritually. 

But I had begun to see over time that those terrible dreams actually revealed truth to me. For instance, I came to realize that the demons were attaining access to my soul because I had the sin of lust in my life. That disgusted me and I let the Lord make me more chaste. And it was not just lust.  In response to the images given to me in dreams, I have made certain changes in my habits like refraining from watching movies that have sexual content in them because they seemed to cause nightmares. Some of the dreams revealed pride and I started feeling more grace and love toward people and I have been able to treat them with more esteem.  So as terrible as those dreams were to experience, I had started thinking it was, after all, perhaps somehow better to know what was happening when I chose to sin, so that I could make changes. 

It's not as if I am saying I have conquered every sin, but my daily habits are more holy than they used to be. I have started to want God to be comfortable in my presence and to be set apart and prepared for fellowship with Him at any moment. So I realized in a moment yesterday that Satan never even once ruled my nightmares like I thought.  He was only ever there because I was doing something that allowed them to be there and when I changed, He lost his power.  The Lion of Judah has always been the ruler of my life and He used my dreams to show me things I needed to know.

Once, I actually had a dream where the sky over my backyard was the color of lapis lazuli and I knew something significant was going on.  I looked and saw the Lion of Judah quietly, peacefully resting next to my vegetable garden, as if He often spent time in that exact place. It was amazing. (I often think of that when I am sitting in my backyard.) I wanted to go to Him. I knew that I was welcome and that I would be safe with Him, even though He was a Lion.  But as I enthusiastically went to throw open my window and dive out into my yard because it would be the quickest, most direct way to get to Jesus, a cat, Satan, jumped up from below and showed himself right outside my window. He smirked and stalked around.  I had to stop from opening the window.  That's when I realized Satan was just wearing a Garfield costume, trying to be as tough as the Lion, and I almost laughed at him. I went to open the window anyway, until he hissed at me, baring hundreds of needle-sharp, silver teeth. I jumped back.  That's when I woke up, devastated I hadn't made it to the Lion.  I think now that even then the Lord was trying to tell me He was the king, done running, just waiting to receive me once I was free of the sin that kept me from Him.

There was only ever one lion.  And because God changed my perspective yesterday using the quote and my conversation with my friend, I no longer call myself unfortunate. The Lord only ever chased me through my nightmares because I needed to get away from the dangerous sin that was in my life. And He only ever terrified me in my dreams so that I would run, fast as I could, through the darkness and into the marvelous light.  It took years, I tell you, but I think I may be coming through it all since my dreams have been so very beautiful lately.  I may share more of the bright ones here in future posts.  Now if only I could have that dream with the Lion again because I think I might actually have a chance to make it out of the window next time! 

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