Years ago, early in my walk with the Lord, I had a wonderful dream. I was in what seemed to be a locker room, with wooden benches, lockers and posters of athletes along one wall. The other side of the room looked more like a golf pro-shop. I seemed to have just returned from a run because I had on running gear and a wind-breaker. I stopped to look at one of the posters and was greatly surprised to find that I was the athlete in the picture. It was not even a flattering photograph – I was looking down so my double chin showed. I thought “I don’t even remember that picture being taken!” I sat down on one of the benches and started pulling off my jacket.
At that point, a smiling, jovial man came into the locker room. He was dressed like a golfer in a bright yellow checked shirt, yellow pants and a strange yellow hat. He seemed to work there, maybe as a trainer or a coach. As I sat on the bench, I began to tell him about the death of some of my teammates. I felt sorrow so deep and piercing that it seemed to penetrate to the bone. So weary and burdened by pain and loss that I just didn’t think I could go on any longer.
The coach began comforting and encouraging me. He talked to me about Jesus, but in the way of dreams, I couldn’t remember later what he had said. Then he nudged me to take a few steps forward, pointing toward a doorway that he wanted me to open. I was hesitant and not very hopeful about what I would find. But when I stepped through the door, to my great wonder and astonishment, I found myself on the playing field of a huge stadium. The sunshine was brilliant, the grass was a perfect green carpet and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. And the stadium was completely full of a wildly cheering crowd, all clapping and applauding – for me. For me, even though all I had done was take one step forward on to the field!
Reflections: I had this dream nearly 20 years ago, but it is still vivid in my mind. It gave me such an intense, experiential understanding of a scriptural truth that Paul calls the great cloud of witnesses. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Heavenly Audience – This scripture gives us just a hint that our struggles and sorrows in this life have divine significance and eternal value. That we have a heavenly audience that is watching the spiritual drama of our lives as it unfolds. We get another glimpse of this in Job, where Satan gets permission from God to test Job to see whether he really is a blameless man. This audience definitely takes sides! And since God has set up this divine drama, we know that our lives have significance on a scale that is much greater than we can possibly imagine.
Our Coach – At the time of the dream, I thought maybe the coach was like a guardian angel, just wearing a funny hat rather than a halo! And I certainly believe that God does send angels (human and otherwise) to help and encourage us. But looking back on it now, I think that this coach is a picture of the Holy Spirit – comforting, encouraging, pointing us towards Jesus, and nudging us to keep going. And I know for me, the biggest temptation is to just quit when I’m discouraged. Why bother trying to keep going since nobody really cares and it doesn’t matter anyhow.
Cheering Wildly! – The biggest shock of this dream was that the crowd wasn’t just watching me with indifference. They weren’t just willing to cheer for some spiritual superstar who was performing miracles and saving sinners. They were cheering wildly for me – just as I really am, faults and all. Tired and discouraged, barely hanging on. And all I had done was take one step on to the playing field rather than quitting!