Guys, I’m a pretty prolific dreamer. I dream vividly every night, and often times the wackiest things happen to me in my dreams- and I end up sleep talking, walking, or, as my rommate in college observed one time, eating candy in my sleep (no joke). I’m pretty sure I have my mom to thank for my nighttime antics because she has some crazy stories- like talking to the third grade child she was convinced was sitting in her closet (she’s a 3rd Grade teacher). She and I come from the same high-strung stock, and I’m betting that has something to do with our whacky vivid dreaming- so vivid we think it’s reality sometimes!
Every once in a while, however, I’ll have a dream that stands out from the “last nights pizza still being digested” crowd. The memory of these dreams doesn’t vaporize as I wake up, and I’m not left laughing hysterically about something I did or said in my sleep because of it. There’s something profound in these dreams, something to grab a hold of. Ever have a dream like that?
Well I did just the other night, and it is a pretty powerful illustration to me of why someone would want to sacrifice more and live with less. So here goes:
I was eating dinner outside on the patio with a group of friends and the family next door. We were all enjoying a pretty good meal, and then hanging out. I was talking a little bit about our debt free project and about the struggles Mike and I have had recently. Then, I got up to head back up to my apartment, and I had a snack in my hand I was finishing off. As I was turning to leave, one of my friends said almost under her breath, “At least you have enough. At least you aren’t starving.”
In that moment I was suddenly struck that my friend was literally starving and I had no idea. She literally did not have enough money to put food on her table and meet her basic nutritional needs.
What did I do? First I tossed the rest of my snack over my shoulder for her. Kind of wierd, I know, but when I woke up I realized that I actually do that a lot. You see, my pride was hit in that moment because I realized that I had enough, and yet I had been complaining, while my friend was sitting beside me trying to not scarf down her meal because she was starving. Literally starving from lack of access to enough food. I couldn’t turn to face my friend; I couldn’t look her in the eye because I suddenly knew that I would be unable to avoid the pain there, and I felt guilty for never noticing before. I felt utterly crushed.
The next thing I did was march right up to my apartment and open up my pantry to see what I could give her. In my pantry there wasn’t a whole lot, and everything I had, I had one of. Like- one box of pasta, one jar of salsa, one bag of chips, one can of soup, one box of cereal. I realized that in my pantry I had plenty to feed my family, and in fact I had extra to be given away. I just had never been willing to sacrifice variety. I would have to choose maybe to only eat the cereal and the pasta, and give my friend the soup and the salsa and chips.
Then the dream ended.
The memory, and feelings it brought up, are still bouncing around my mind, and it’s been two days. I don’t know what all of the layers of meaning are in the dream, yet, but I know it’s significant. It challenged me. It made me think- how many times do I complain that I don’t have “enough” when really what I mean is that I don’t have exactly what I want when I want it? How often am I discontent because I want more, I demand more, variety? What does it really mean to sacrifice? What is real sacrifice?
All I am confronted with is the cross. I don’t have an answer yet, but I know the answer is there somewhere, in the Man who not only made a sacrifice, but became sacrifice itself. And if I’m to take on His likeness, I am to take on the personhood of sacrifice and all of it’s external ugliness. It is going to mean some sort of death to my flesh. Unto what? Eternal glory.
How about you? Reflect on that thought. Go get into the gospels and read the account of Jesus’s life and death, and meditate on the idea of sacrifice. That’s where I’ll be. And, just a question: what is in your pantry?