Lastnight I dreamt of something forbidden. Not in a dangerous or inappropriate sense, but in a sense which I have renounced my own right to know. As I woke, with the memories still lingering, I fought to wrestle my heart free from the grip of longing for what I do not and cannot have. “Shake it off,” I told myself, asking God for help to do just that, and proceeded to get up and start my day.
Only I couldn’t quite shake it off. I suppose I could have become frustrated with God for the lack of “help” (because we so often define help in terms of exactly what we think we need, don’t we?). Except that I’ve been praying every night for God to guard my dreams and keep the enemy out of them, unless He is serving God’s purposes there. If I have faith, and if I am praying according to God’s will. then I can trust that He has answered that prayer. So the real problem I have is not trying to shake off something I shouldn’t be longing for, but figuring out why God has exposed that longing in my heart.
Thankfully, I am not left to figure this out alone. God gives wisdom and understanding to those who ask of Him, and He delights in opening our eyes to see what we cannot see by our own understanding. So as I wrestled with my dream from lastnight, God was faithful to show me why it came.
I dreamt of a marriage which was everything I’ve ever wanted…and everything that my marriage is not now. Because of sin and selfishness (my husband’s and my own) and the painful consequences that come with it, my husband and I – though we love each other – are suffering through a process of healing and a necessary work of rebuilding what has been torn down. It is laborious and exhausting, for both of us. I’m sure we both long for easier, better, and more comfortable. And yet we both know that this is where God wants us to be – in this marriage – as difficult as it is.
But this is not God’s vision for our marriage. Quite often, we can only see what’s in front of us, and it’s messy. And we tend to wrangle our hearts into a position of settling for this, accepting a marriage that is hard. Somewhere in our hearts, I think we both believe things will get better one day, but it’s an easy hope to lose in the wreckage and debris we see on every side. God, however, never loses sight of the vision He has, of the hope He has held out for our marriage.
I couldn’t shake off my dream and the longing it exposed in my heart because that longing – for a Godly marriage with a Godly man – is God’s dream. Even as I endure through the pain of a broken marriage, God wants me to do more than just endure. He wants me to hope for what He intended when He brought my husband and I together. He wants me to want the man I saw in my dream – the new creation, the new man, who loved me as Christ loves me. And He wants me to pray for the relationship I experienced in that dream – one where God was at the center and love was pure and refreshing.
He wants me to give myself freely – no walls and no reservations – to the husband of my youth, and to be unafraid of the vulnerability of such a place. Rather than setting my heart to simply survive this, He has placed before me a picture of what now seems impossible, but what is written in His blueprints for our marriage.
So I have been confronted and challenged. I have been invited to embrace the very thing I was trying so hard to shake off and reject. The longing of His heart has been uncovered deep in the bowels of my own heart. And to be honest, I am afraid of that hope. Life would be easier if I could just bury it and endure. But life would never be full, as He intends for it to be…
So what will I do? I will dance in the midst of this wreckage I see. I will give myself to His vision and risk the pain of digging up lost hope again, bringing it to His hands and reminding Him that He is the One Who created it, and therefore it is He Who must revive it. I will admit that I don’t have the strength to do it, and I don’t have the heart to go through it, except for the promise of His Presence, which makes all things new. And I will wait, expectantly, for Him to do as He longs to do, because I cannot shake off what He has implanted in my heart. And because this dream of His, I know, is bigger than my pain.