Atonement

A long time ago, I had a dream. It was one of the most amazing dreams I’ve ever had, and I felt tonight that I should write about it.

I can’t remember what I was going through at the time in my life, but usually dreams like this come when I am really discouraged. But I don’t even remember what exactly it was I was discouraged with. This is probably because my dream was so powerful it overshadowed all my memories in the year it happened. It will definitely sound weird to most, and if it isn’t helpful, just stop reading it. I just don’t have the talent for writing about things in my life that are so wild.

In my dream, I remember being in a place of fog – I could not see further than a few yards in any direction, but I believe I was standing on a smooth hard surface. Even though I could not see, there was an ambient light that made my entire surroundings glow, so I was not in darkness. What happened next is very hard for me to describe.


All at once, a very great light appeared in front of me. I knew at once who it was. How can I describe what I felt? I remember the day when I met my wife – I remember when I first saw her – the anticipation and joy just at the thought of meeting her and maybe just spending time with her. That feeling, that indescribable feeling of falling in love when you are young – when you are so happy you feel like you are floating – when there is truly nothing better to do in the entire universe than to simply think about the person you are in love with. That’s how I felt – multiplied by a hundred.

With that kind of emotion, no one can stand up, and I felt flat on my face instantly. I cried uncontrollably. Along with my intense emotions was the creeping horror of knowing who I really was, and that the one standing before me knew this too.

I’m not one to brow-beat myself, but I know who I really am. What people see on the outside, or what I write about is one thing, but in case I may have fooled some people – let me set the record straight, I am not that great of a person. When life is good, I can be a pretty good guy. When just enough bad things happen to me, all kinds of ugly stuff comes out. I am filled with selfishness and pride and anger and a million other things. Who I am inside when no one is looking is not always a pretty picture. I long to be like the heroes in movies, the ones who no matter what, never buckle under pressure. But I know from experience that I do buckle. When push comes to shove, my ideals melt away, my courage will eventually fail, and most of what is virtuous in me will fall to pieces on the floor. I’m not just saying this in false humility, I’m saying what I’ve seen of myself in real life. I am not the knight in shining armor meant to save the princess. That is who I want to be so badly, but something in me is twisted and cannot attain to such a level. So at that moment, I stood before the one who I loved more than anyone I’ve ever met, who I wanted to impress more than anyone alive, but from whom I could not hide who I truly am. I was heartbroken – I could do nothing at all but simply cry with uncontrollable gut wrenching sobs and crammed my face as far into the floor as possible.

Never have I been in the presence of such beauty. When I first asked a girl out, to be my girlfriend, I remember how bad my hands were trembling and felt clammy. I remember her smiling though the whole thing – I kept telling her how cold I was, but I could tell she knew it was not the cold. I was trembling the same way now. What I couldn’t help thinking was – I didn’t deserve her. She was way out of my league, and I was no great person. Could she see through me? Could she see that I wasn’t that strong? That the light inside me was not so bright? I don’t think she could, and she did say yes to my question (to my great relief), but the one I was on front of now saw me for who I really was. There was no cover, no way to hide, no way to bluff, and no desire to be or pretend to be anyone that I wasn’t. I simply was who I was, in all openness and all honesty – just me. I knew perfectly well that who I was wasn’t good enough – not even good enough for my own standards. My own conscious screamed against me for all the wrong I had done, and for all that I still did wrong each day, and that after this day and every day after. I knew that no matter what, I would never be able to attain to the standard my heart wanted to attain to so badly, especially in the presence of such purity and beauty and virtue. I’m not talking about neglecting to do good works like praying every day or reading the bible or other legalistic religious crap either. All the wrong I had done, all the moments when my virtue fell to the floor, when my courage died, where my ability to choose right failed and my selfish nature took over. I am talking about those times.

But the one who stands before me now does not turn away, but loves me more than I can imagine. Loves me with all my faults, even when I despise myself for those faults. I don’t know how anyone could love a guy like me that much. Even with all my faults and my weaknesses and my lack of virtue. With my first girlfriend, I couldn’t tell how she really felt about me – probably thought I was weird or something (and she would’ve been right!), but the one with me now did not hide how she felt. How can I explain how words can be spoken without sound? Their intensity is greater than any voice could communicate – more penetrating than any spoken word that I’ve ever heard. It was one of acceptance, one filled with passion, romance, intimacy, and pure delight – just to think about me and be with me. That is what the message was. It was not a front, not a lie, not a dishonesty to cover up embarrassment because I was so unlovable, but the complete and total unhidden truth.

What can I do!? I cannot stay in this state – one of pure joy like I will never experience again, to be with the one I have been born to be with, who embodies everything I value, but I am totally transparent and disgusted with who I really am, based on no other standard then my own conscious, one that I knew was shared between me and the one in front of me. How could I be anywhere near such beauty, the literal embodiment of all I hold most dear in life – beauty, awe, virtue, love. I must find some way, but my heart cannot bear this presence for long. There is simply nothing I can do to change the terrible gulf that exists between us. I need the gulf to be taken away – I need a balance, a closing of the gap, to be able to stand on the same plane as the one in front of me. How else can we be in each other’s presence? It’s not the one in front of me who is troubled by my presence, it is me who is troubled. I need to set things right – to turn my life around and be perfect, for there can be no less in the presence of this one who sees my heart. But I cannot. I can never be perfect.

But the one who stands in front of me bridged the gap. She loved me so much that she wasn’t willing to let me slip away. No matter what, she will stop at nothing to keep us together. And so she did. It was not an easy forgiveness, it wasn’t just blown off, but was paid with a terrible price. She has to compel me to stay – to remind me that it is ok. It is not easy to be compelled that it is OK to be in the presence of God with all confidence, but she did it that day.

That is atonement. God needed to compel me to stay – to be in her presence, and that it was OK. I could not live up to the way God is, but I have been forgiven. Somehow we are compatible even though I am way out of my league. Only the one who loves me can prove to me that she loves me, and that I don’t have to run away into the night because I can’t be perfect.

And then I woke up. What a dream.

    6 Responses to “Atonement”

    1. darling24_7
      1

      Thank you for sharing, that was beautiful and inspiring.

      Its hard to be pure when we have ourselves making decisions. But I know that there is someone out there that will take me in their arms no matter how unworthy I feel in their presence.

      Sometimes… its good to be reminded that its ok.

      Im not sure what it is with your blog. I seem to tear up when I read and make comments…

      Have a great day.

      Reply to this comment.
    2. Jonathan
      2
      Author Comment

      darling24_7,

      Thank you! I’m very glad these stories are inspiring to others and not just me! It is an emotional experience just to write some of them half the time.

      Reply to this comment.
    3. Becka
      3

      Interesting story. I find it inspiring. I had a similar experiece about a year ago but I was awake.

      Reply to this comment.
    4. Jonathan
      4
      Author Comment

      Becka,
      Thanks for stopping by! What a wonderful experience… I think it is such an important thing for God to communicate to us this very important truth – awake or dreaming 🙂

      Reply to this comment.
    5. ida
      5

      I’m just wondering how you are doing now after having this dream in 2007. Its now 2013, oviously. Just stumbled upon your blog surfing for “knowing God intimately- yada” I am very sure that the Lord was assuring you that even though the future out there is foggy,(for we walk by faith and not by sight and where we stand is always illumined by the light) you are still standing on solid ground. any other dream? God’s blessing on you

      Reply to this comment.
    6. Jonathan
      6
      Author Comment

      ida – I’m doing very well, but I can’t say I’ve had a dream like this ever since. I would suggest checking out my post on “Knowing” (yada) God in the old Testament. http://truthandpurpose.com/2011/02/knowing-god-in-the-old-testament

      Reply to this comment.

Leave a Reply