"When I'm with you I feel like I could die and that would be alright." -"Semi Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind
We all have songs that define moments in our lives. Most of mine involve me picking out a line and applying it to a theological idea that in context would be completely inappropriate but cherry picked works out just fine. When I'm with you I feel like I could die and that would be alright is one of mine. I had a dream once that I was injured by someone I'd been trying to help. He was begging me to kill him and I wouldn't. I got on my knees and begged him to come with me instead. To let me help him with whatever was wrong. He stabbed me with a sword instead. I lay there bleeding, just kind of letting it happen, when an angel came along and found both of us. The person who hurt me ran away, and the angel picked me up and flew straight to God with me in his arms. I felt like I knew him very well in my dream and that I loved him and he loved me. He laid me at God's feet in the middle of a huge gathering and I was held so tenderly I can't begin to explain it. I can't explain what God looked like. Every time I try the words literally won't come out of my mouth, so I'm not even going to try to write it in this blog piece. I do remember thinking....and I was delirious with pain even in this dream, that if I died right there and simply ceased to exist that it would be alright. It would be just fine because I was fully known and fully loved. It was going to be just fine no matter what happened or how bad it hurt.
It would be just fine because I was safe in the arms of God. I have never felt anything like that on earth (when I wasn't "dreaming"). The closest I can come to it is sitting next to someone you know loves you. Like hug from your grandmother multiplied a thousand times. Like falling asleep at the end of a long happy day. It was perfect peace, unspoiled even by extreme suffering.
The kicker? Right there in the midst of heaven, God washed the blood out of my hair and healed my wounds. Not because God was the only one there to do it, no, not by a long shot. I'm sure there were plenty who would have taken on the chore. It felt like he wanted to take care of me. Me. Held my hand until I fell asleep even. I woke up feeling ridiculously good, and a bit like I was in between two worlds for the rest of the day.
What this experience did for me, other than having me wake up feeling ridiculously good and then slightly insane for the rest of the day, is shatter the idea that God doesn't like me. I've always accepted the idea that God loves me. Love and like are sometimes two different things. Every time I start to think the only reason I'm still alive is that he doesn't want to put up with me at home yet the dream creeps back into my mind and I remember that feeling. I still don't understand. I can't tell you what that was about. I just know that the descriptions in scripture of the love of God are not an exaggeration.
It's not a joke or a platitude or something nice to say to get more butts in a pew. God actually loves us. Even irritating ill mannered potty mouthed Leslie from Enid, Oklahoma. The one who sticks her foot in her mouth every chance she gets. The one whose prayers frequently get interrupted by bagels sticking out of her mouth and a cat's butt in her face. The one with the attention span of a five year old hopped up on sugar. If God loves Leslie, God loves you. Really.
Sometimes I think the best lie the devil ever told was convincing mankind that God doesn't love him. That man is unlovable. That there was a way that we could get around that love, and out of its light. I don't think we can.