I had a dream that I was climbing a tree.
But as I climbed, I realized the tree bark had sharp thorns in it.
I inched myself along and hoisted myself up and used the tree to support the full weight of my body, but I kept, unavoidably, coming across thorns. I had to keep stopping to remove them from my hands and feet.
But I had no option other than to climb. There was no “back” to go to. I had to get up the tree, which led to a main road, which would take me home.
So I gritted my teeth and climbed.
And once I made it to the top, I called Laura and told her what I had just gone through.
And she listened. And then she said, “But was the water clean?”
And my dream self was like, “What are you talking about? What water?”
And then I woke up.
And my waking self was lying there in bed, looking up at the ceiling with my forehead all scrunched up in confusion, still thinking, “What water!?” And then I rolled over and went back to sleep.
But when morning came, the dream was still vivid in my mind, so I decided to pray about it and look into some potential symbolism.
And what I feel the Lord is showing me through that dream is that I’ve been trying to do on my own effort what can only be done by His strength and power.
I am climbing, trying to get as far away as possible from where I was three months ago.
And I am convinced that it’s up to me to succeed. I cannot slip up or fail or acknowledge the things that still hurt—the thorns—because I have to make it to the top. I have to keep going.
And you know what water represents? The Word of God. Sanctification.
So in comes Laura, reminding me that maybe it’s less about trying to be perfect through this season, and more about the good work—the sanctification—that God is doing in me.
And I think there’s another very clear parallel in this dream.
There was another time in history Someone hung bloody from a tree, impaled by thorns.
WHY AM I TRYING SO HARD TO DO WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE!?
My victory and righteousness have already been won!
God isn’t asking me to do penance for the dark season I was in. He isn’t asking me to run from it as fast as I can, full-speed ahead, terrified to even acknowledge that it happened. He isn’t asking me to be strong enough or good enough.
He is asking me to stop trying to earn what I can’t earn and to embrace, instead, the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
He is asking me to stop trying to undo what I did, and instead accept the forgiveness He has already given me.
It isn’t about penance. It’s about sanctification.
He isn’t asking me to climb. He is asking me to release my grip. To surrender.
And to trust that, when I do, when I wait upon Him and stop trying to do it on my own strength, I will find fresh strength. I will walk and not grow weary.
I will mount up with wings like eagles.
I don’t need to climb a tree to get to where I belong. Because, through Him, I can fly.