In a bad dream everything is out of control. In a bad dream we are trapped in some strange world where bizarre and unexpected events come rushing at us, and we have no power to stop them. (My most often repeated bad dream goes something like this: It’s Sunday morning; church begins in thirty minutes; and I haven’t a clue what I’m going to preach about. What great relief to awaken and realize that I’m not quite that much a procrastinator.)
Children, it seems, are most susceptible to nightmares. How many parents haven’t been awakened in the middle of the night by a frightened child? “Mom, I had a bad dream. Can I sleep in your bed?” Snuggled between Mom and Dad, the child feels safe. Life is under control once again.
Young or old, we all need security, even when we’re not dreaming. Reality can get pretty scary itself. We need Jesus to enfold us in His all-powerful arms and tell us everything is going to be okay.
That’s one of the great truths Jesus’ ascension teaches us. When Jesus ascended into heaven, the Father “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:22).
The ascended Savior is in control for you and me. When life seems like a bad dream, we trust that our all-powerful Jesus is constantly exerting His full, unstoppable strength for the welfare of His believers. Jesus deals with reality for us as only He can.
Reality tells us that we’re wicked sinners who deserve to be shut out from God’s presence for eternity. Check your personal record. Mine tells me that I’ve been a rotten, self-centered husband. It tells me I’ve been impatient and often harsh with my children. It shows me failure after failure in my calling as a pastor. It shows me lots of other stuff that I don’t like to admit even to myself.
“Never Will I Leave You…”
I need Jesus to brush away the tears that spring from my guilty heart. I need to know that Jesus took control of my sins; that He was condemned for them; that I have God’s forgiveness because Jesus shed His blood for me; and that my eternal destination has been secured. I need to know that Jesus has broken the power that sin, Satan, death, and hell once had over my life. Only in His blood and righteousness am I safe from sin’s curse and hell’s fury.
Not only in dreams but in the real world there’s much sadness. Christians are not immune to troubles. A Christian couple watches as their prematurely born child dies in their arms. A young Christian girl in the flower of youth is paralyzed in a freak accident. A believing little child becomes the victim of divorce. And on and on it goes. Oh, how we need the Good Shepherd to hold us close to His bosom. How we need Jesus to assure us that according to His unlimited power He will make everything turn out for the good of His blood-bought children.
We also observe with helplessness as our nation appears to be spinning out of control: school violence, abortion, disregard for authority, apathy toward the immoral behavior of our elected leaders. These all can cause us to wonder if society is unraveling at the seams. We need Jesus to come to us in His Word and show us that He’s got a handle on all societal events. We need His promise wrapped around our hearts: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
Without Jesus everything is scary. But with Him I know everything is going to be okay. With Him I know that even when things don’t seem okay, they really are. Jesus is my ascended Lord Who rules over all things for my personal benefit and yours!
Relax. Breathe easy. Wake up to the truth that everything is under control.
–Pastor Michael Wilke