So I had this dream. Actually, it was more of a nightmare. While most of my dreams are easily forgotten by the time I shower and shave in the morning, this dream has stuck with me.
I dreamed that I was asleep in bed, which in and of itself is kinda weird. Dreaming about being in bed sleeping is like having an out-of-body experience. What was even weirder, the bed was in the middle of a church sanctuary filled with people singing.
Realizing where I was, I quickly pulled the covers over my head and tried to appear invisible to the congregation. The next thing I knew, an angry usher walked up and pulled back the covers, revealing me in all my humiliation. The congregation gasped while the parent’s covered their children’s eyes, protecting them from the scene of an underwear-clad man slinking out of the top bunk bed in the middle of church.
I quickly ran down the aisle, through the foyer and on to the parking lot to find my car. Everyone followed me out the door, yelling at me to leave, as I frantically searched for my car keys. Mercifully, I woke up just at the moment I realized underwear don’t have pockets.
When I came back to reality and realized it had only been a dream, I sighed in relief. As the cobwebs dissolved in my foggy brain, I began to process my dream and see if I could come up with an interpretation of what I had just experienced.
I cannot tell you how frightened I felt being exposed like that in the middle of church. It’s bad enough for anyone to get caught falling asleep in church, but it’s really bad for me as a worship leader, to be asleep during the one hour when I’m supposed to be on the platform leading. To top it off, I was in my underwear, exposed in front of the entire congregation.
Nothing makes me feel more vulnerable than exposing my inner-self to other people, to strip naked emotionally and admit I have broken bones underneath my thick hide. So imagine what it must be like for someone to come to church thinking it’s a safe place to be real, but instead once they reveal their struggle only to experience condemnation or indifference from everyone.
All of us need a safe place to be real. We all need to be encouraged to take off the mask, and yes, at times to even strip naked. We are all broken people seeking freedom from our hurts, habits and hang ups, but that will never happen if we can’t even admit to one another that we have them.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
‘Wake up sleeper;
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’” Ephesians 5:13-14
Imagine a day when the church becomes a safe place where we can expose our brokenness to the Light, and in turn, God then uses our brokenness as a light for others. That’s my dream.