Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)
TITLE: Life Before Dreams
By Jeffrey Snell
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Recalling life before the nightmares, I remember a sense of safety, like love and strength are without question, the future is brilliant, and you can rest without worry. My home was the aroma of pot roast, a snapping fire, my wife's hair brushing my face, the kids' joy and clamor hugging me tightly. On the night it started, drifting to sleep, I decided we'd found contentment.
Lightning seared, trees quaked and the earth roared, tearing... it felt like the cyclone striking in The Wizard of Oz...strange dream-light, house cracking and shaking, yet not collapsing... my wife and children between me and the house, crying, pleading with me... the sky darkens to a shade between black and red, like smoldering charcoal in the dark, and behind my house, shadow, lurking, edge just visible enough to reveal its presence... dread in my heart surges... I move to protect my family... but can't... my body refuses... dread boils up to terror... widening eyes watch the shadow approach... darker than the air, sneering at my impotence... with a poisonous grip, the shadow covers my loved ones until I can no longer see them, muffled cries fading to grief without sensation....
The first lark's song woke me in sweat that next morning, and I knew, somehow, the dream was real. Horror lingered. My heart strained to pull back my former contentment but discovered only a shriveled carcass.
As time passed, I could identify with Joseph when visions began affecting his place in life. In the Scripture, he seemed so free of pretense, yet burdened by that of others; the fight felt inequitable. I labor greatly, demanding discipline from my body, pushing it beyond limits it insists upon. My flesh, this Old Nature, hates my new heart. It calls me to defy the Holy One who lives there and instead pursue sin's lustful demands and the expectations of other fallen fools. Satan enjoys chafing this flesh, stalking me. He is the shadow.
Crying out to Jesus dawn and night, my love resists the marsh of lies I must swim through, striving for shore. The lies have every flavor--I'm still an imposter, put family before Christ, God's wrath for me endures, the world is good--a smorgasbord of subterfuge. My eye stays vigilant for sin's subtlety while leaving my heart in hope. Hope that I can make it through the test and prove worthy of the blessings I'm entrusted with.
On this morning, the grim shades of predawn fled an army of blue and white light as I gazed out a window, breathing my thanks to God. Each pure cloud was a blessing. My coworkers chatted, machines whirred around me, and residue of the previous night's visions drained away.
The day passed, and I realized I didn't know how much time remained, how many more opportunities I'd have to be rid of this plaguing sin before the great evening descends. I had to get past this! I searched for some symbolism from the dream, like Joseph and his cows and years of plenty and famine, without success. I pleaded with the Lord: please help me protect my precious family! Ironically, His reply was so immediate, it startled me.
Son, you and I are one-- your heart is pure like the clouds! Your dreams are mine; but life must come first. Only devour Me instead of the choice food you see, and all will be well.
Do you think you are the only one I love?
Relief burst from my eyes. Reminded that He is truly God, my heart finally knew: I could not save them, could not reach the shore, could only wait for Him to bring me there, bring us there, when He chose. For the first time, I saw that the command was not to survive but to believe. My face and heart grinned with such a great peace! And contentment broke into my soul as through a ruptured dam, pouring deeper and cooler than any I had known before the nightmares came.
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