A couple of nights ago, I had a vivid dream. I know when to use the word “vivid” to describe a dream by whether I remember it 24 hours later. I usually do not.
I was lying on a polished, flat surface atop a huge rock column that rose perhaps a thousand feet above the earth below. Yet, the top of the column had narrowed and there was a space only slightly bigger than a small bedroom upon which I lay. With me was a Great Dane. We were buds (although I have never owned a Great Dane.) Far down below were a couple of guys standing at the base of a very long ladder which I was somehow aware they had climbed down. One of them was my best man, Glen Drake, but the other guy was not identified by the dream maker which was my brain.
I had a decision to make. Did I dare to attempt to climb down the ladder? Dane (the dog) and I looked over the ledge and I noticed that the top of the ladder was about 7 feet below the top of the ledge. I would have to hang down, hope my feet found purchase on the top rung and risk missing the ladder altogether. That would mean that I would hang over the edge, trying to maintain my purchase ON the edge until my fingers inevitably slipped and I would fall to my death. Far down below, the two men at the bottom were gesturing for me to descend. “I might as well just jump off and get it over with since I have no chance of doing this successfully,” I muttered. (Yes, I mutter in my dreams. Don’t you?) I am terrified of heights and I felt my usual heart stopping fear as I looked down from the vast height. Dane and I crawled back to the perfect center of the plateau and I hugged his huge smelly body, grateful for the company. Thus ended the dream. I never did try the ladder.
What did that mean? I am not sure. Perhaps I am aware that at some point, I will outlast my usefulness and need to retire. I do fear running out of useful things to do. If mental disability such as Alzheimer’s ever overtakes me, that will be my worst nightmare come true. I don’t know that Glen Drake has actually retired but I suspect he is more retired than I am. I should ask him. Obviously I am not ready to climb down the ladder to whatever awaits below. I’ll just stay put with Dane right where I am. Food and water appeared to be in short supply up there though.
Life is like that. New things around the corner, big changes that are sometimes unexpected, fears that need to be confronted and defeated. The unknown both fascinates and terrifies us. Compare that to the comfort of coming home to familiar surroundings and people. Home is a place where your toothbrush has only ever been in your mouth (you hope) and the food is precisely what you are in the mood for at the moment. If there is a mess, you made it and if a stain in the carpet, it was your diet coke that did it. We can live with our clutter and dirt rather comfortably. (The dirt that others live with is gross!) We will make do with the flat, barren plateau if it is OUR plateau. It’s safer than climbing down the long ladder.
Heaven is both things. It is mysterious and creates in us a sense of adventure when we contemplate going there. It’s scary like hanging over the edge and hoping your feet find the ladder without knocking it over accidentally. Fundamentally though, I think it will be immediately comfortable. It is a “dwelling place” and a “place for you.” Probably your place will welcome you with your toothbrush sitting right where you always put it, your favorite meal sitting on your favorite table around which sits those you love who have gone before with big smiles on their faces. Welcome home! Your feet DID safely find the top of the ladder. Oddly, a Great Dane is sitting by your chair waiting for you to drop some food on the floor. Is that my dog?
John 142 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (NASB)