The bridge is real, or at least it was when I was a child. It has since been replaced with a strong concrete bridge but when I was little, the Thrower Drive bridge across Currumbin Creek was a wooden bridge that rattled as cars passed through. During my early school years my class walked across the bridge to get to the local pool center during the weeks of swimming season. I still can feel the fear that surged through my younger-me as we stepped carefully to avoid the cracks between the wood planks. Seeing the water dance below was scary. I didn’t have much faith in that bridge.
In my dream it’s night and my dad is driving us across the bridge. It gives way and we are instantly submerged. The car disappears and I am huddled behind a rock in the depths of the water. “Shhh!” Dad says and he too disappears. I am left alone in the cold darkness trying to stay still and quiet to avoid being seen. Along comes a creature that is evil and hungry. In my mind his name is Jabberwocky. He seems to be pieced together from many stories about evil creatures. Sometimes he floats by and doesn’t see me. Other times he catches my scent and starts to hunt. Other times I move and he turns his green eyes and looks into my soul. The dream never had an ending. I would wake up without conclusion. Every time I came back to reality with a gasp and a racing heart.
This nightmare and one other with similar tones were regular parts of my childhood and even continued into adulthood. But I haven’t had dreamed either one for years and today as I read in Psalm 33 I realized why the nightmares are gone.
But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. (Psalm 33:18-22)
I don’t have the nightmares anymore because I’m no longer afraid. The bridge collapse, my dad floating away, and the evil creature were all about my fear of separation from life, light and love.
I grew up knowing God. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Him. I grew up talking with Him and walking with Him. For me there is know question of whether He exists or not. I know Him and hear Him so I have no doubt God is real. Instead, my wrestle was about my standing with Him. Even though I was confident that my identity was as His daughter, I doubted that I was good enough to hold that role. I was living as though my salvation was the fruit of my own powers.
The words of Psalm 33 jumped out at me today: “rely on his unfailing love.” The nightmares stopped when I came to understand God’s Grace. Relying on my own efforts to please Him is fruitless. The Truth is that our relationship with God is all about relying on His unfailing love. Nothing I do alters my identity as God’s daughter.
God saved you by his special favor [grace] when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Today at our study group on “The Forgotten God” we talked about our relationship with our “Abba” Father God and what keeps us from that relationship. For me there is really only one thing that keeps me from that relationship: fear and lies. They used to be strong in my life but now they seem mere shadows. And having this security in relationship with God my Father brings such deep peace to my heart.
Francis Chan says it this way:
The incredible truth is that in Christ we have been adopted by God. Whether or not we feel like children of God, this is reality. But God wasn’t satisfied with simply adopting us; He wanted to be sure that we would feel like children of God. Paul says that God gave us the Holy Spirit for that very reason; “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Gal 4:6). That term “Abba” was the most endearing way to address a father. The modern equivalent would be the word “Daddy.” Let the significance of this hit you. It’s incredible enough that we can call almighty God our Father. But then He sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts and prompts us to cry out to Him, “Daddy!” Chan, Francis (2010). Remembering The Forgotten God: An Interactive Workbook for Individual or Small-Group Study. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook.
Knowing about God is not enough. We were made to know Him and be known by Him. I don’t use empty or merely symbolic words when I talk about God being my Father. I really do relate with Him that way and He with me. Today I’m reminded that this is an incredible gift from God. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit enabling me to call Him Abba and to stand confidently in that relationship. It is so beautiful and wonderful. I have been set free from my nightmares and also from a life of striving to be good enough. Ahhhh it’s so good!
How about you? What is your story of relationship with God as your Father and Daddy? What barriers pop up in your walk with Him? What brings freedom and truth and peace in your relationship with Him? I would love to hear about your journey.
Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s readings are Psalm 33; Luke 19:1-27