I was sitting on the beach near the edge of the ocean. Garth, my husband, was off in the distance, walking just past where the tide was rolling in. It was late at night, the sky was dark and the only light was from the glow of the moon radiating off the tumbling water. I remember sitting still, watching each wave glisten and roll, as I ran my fingers through the cool sand. Suddenly I heard a warning that a hurricane was headed our way and I watched as the winds started picking up speed and clouds rolled by at a quicker pace. I glanced behind me and saw a few of my friends running frantically, having heard the same warning, searching for safety within the walls of a building. I turned my head from the chaotic scene and looked up to see Garth coming toward me. And in the next instant, he was kissing me passionately on the lips. I remember feeling something I had never felt before. A piercing, deep intense love. The kind that penetrates your soul. The kind that touches every fiber of your being and sends peace and warmth coursing through your veins. A love I knew I had never felt before and never wanted to lose. I realized I wasn't a bit fearful of the storm that was beginning to rage around me. There was only peace. I knew I didn't need to run and so I sat and looked out into the ocean, watching as Garth walked out into the water.
And then I woke up.
As I always do, when I have a dream or vision, I wrote it down. God doesn't always give me an immediate interpretation, so I want to make sure I have it recorded for when He does. So for this dream, like all the others, I got my phone out and began to type it into my notes. When I got to the part where Garth kissed me, I wrote out the words "He kissed me"....and it spell checked it to "Janaé died." What?!?! What on earth did that mean?! Was something going to happen? Was it my day to go? What was the message in that?!? Those were all the thoughts that flooded my head when I saw what my phone had done. I feel pretty confident that "He kissed me" doesn't normally spell check to "Janaé died." So now God had my attention and I began to ask Him questions...what was He trying to tell me and what was I supposed to do with that information?
Then it struck me and God began to lay it all out for me. Garth represented Jesus in my dream, I was the bride. And the moment that I, the bride, was kissed by the Lord, I died to myself, laying it all down. The moment I was kissed, was the moment I truly felt the depth of the love of my Lord. That measure of love comes from knowing who God is. From spending time with Him, trusting Him and feeling that love deep within our core. And it's that place that brings total peace. While the rest of the world is running around searching for security - we are still and resting, eyes on the Lord as He walks out into the stormy waters to calm the sea. When that kind of love is experienced, we may just be willing to lay it all down. It's a theme God has been showing me all week...the moment that we truly understand why on earth we would want to die to ourselves.
I woke up one morning this week, before this dream and heard God say "Lay it down." I wrote it in my notes and then looked it up. To lay it down means to sacrifice one's life for something. And then I looked up sacrifice. To sacrifice is an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy than our own life. So when God says to me, lay it down, I believe He's saying "give Me your life, give Me your time, give Me your family, give Me..." and fill in the blank with whatever you value. When you do, that's where God will meet you. That's your beach moment when the love of Christ penetrates your soul. And for me, that's when I died to myself. When I decided that God's love was of more value than my time or any of my own plans.
I'm going to be blunt and I really hope it doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. But I really do hope it stirs something inside of us. I think most people in the church haven't truly experienced that love. I think they know Jesus, have asked Him to be Lord of their lives and love Him, but then leave Him in the church building. And I wonder if it's because we know that if we take Him into our everyday lives, we might just have to give up something, lay it down and never pick it back up? Like our time, or just maybe ourselves. Maybe that's why we are so comfortable in the church, inside the building? Because that's where we know He is and where He'll stay, nice and neat? But what if we take Him outside the building? What if Jesus becomes a part of our every day lives? What if we give Him the time He is desiring? The moments on the beach, running our fingers through the sand...sitting still with Him long enough so that He can kiss us and pierce our hearts with His love?
I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I do know one thing - the love I felt when I gave my entire life to God, was like nothing I've ever felt before. I'm not talking about when I became a believer, I'm talking about when I became a lover. A person who desires to sit with God, soak in His word, listen to what He has to say and then walks with Him out into the light and dark places of this world. I never want to lose sight of that love. So, I'll die to myself. I'll give Him my time and I'll sit with Him on the beach. My life might not look like I thought it would, but it sure is turning out a whole lot better than I could have ever thought up on my own. It's not easy living with Jesus in the world, but when we do, we get in return something even more worthy than our own life. And maybe, just maybe, someone else might get to experience that love. All because we took Jesus outside of the building, smack dab in the middle of the storm. Winds and water raging around us, but a peace and love inside that is unshakeable.
That's where I want to be living.
"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17-19