It was late. I was dog tired. Still sleep evaded me. It had been a long day, in a whole week of long days and the thoughts of it just didn’t want to be put to bed. So, I tossed and turned. I turned on the light and read; first part of a mindless novel, then a bit of Scripture. Neither reading seemed to chase away the thoughts that still ran like a high speed slide show, in my mind. I shut off the light and tried, once again, to get comfortable. But the comfort which I needed couldn’t start at the physical level. I turned again to God, this time in prayer. By now, I was less in a thankful mood, than in one of being tired, worn out and borderline desperate for sleep. I knew that tomorrow would come soon and I needed rest. Thank God that He is forgiving. My “prayer” should probably be closer described as the whining plea of a tired child. You know the tone; certainly not one that you should feel comfortable approaching the God of Creation with. But, God knows your heart even before you do. So, I proceeded to “tell” God just what I needed. I don’t honestly recall the entire monologue, which is what it was. Prayer should be a dialogue. But, I wasn’t much in the mood for listening; not even to the Answer. I do remember ending with a frustrated thought of; “Oh, Lord, I just need You”. In retrospect, I would have to say that was the only real prayer and that it wasn’t mine. I believe the Spirit of God opened me to His insight to my need.
With that thought, I drifted off into a kind of twilight dream state. Pain shot up my back, as I saw myself thrown down upon a hard, rough wooden cross. Odd that I felt the impact, yet I was seeing myself from the perspective of an onlooker. Then, in the blink of an eye, I was lying there looking into the face of a man dressed in Roman armor. He had a knee on my chest, pinning me down and making it hard to breathe. He was gripping my left wrist, with a hand which also held a long spike and dragging my arm outwards. His other hand held a large wooden mallet, the head of which was marred and curled back at the edges from use. He was going to crucify me! I was powerless to do anything but stare at his uncaring face. This scene was so vivid that I would be readily able to identify that face in an instant. Then, I saw a hand appear on his shoulder. Without force, the hand stopped the man, who released his grip and drew away from me. It was as if he understood a greater authority in that gentle touch. Looking up, I saw a man’s figure standing over me. He was wearing a robe. Yet, I couldn’t see His face. It was bright, like looking into the sun. Bending, He reached down to me and took my hand in His. I hadn’t even realized that I had been reaching out to Him. With what seemed to be incredible strength and no effort on my part, He lifted me up. Then, without hesitation, He laid down on the cross and stretched out his own arms. He was taking my place. Jesus was taking my place.
I don’t remember anything more, until I woke up the next morning, feeling more refreshed than I had in weeks. The memory of the “dream” was still fresh in my mind. Yet, in spite of the incredible reality, the sense of horror at being there; I felt at peace. I felt like the accumulated burdens, which I had been carrying, had been lifted from me.
Whether this was a dream, a vision, or God’s Way of answering a prayer, I can’t say. It doesn’t matter. The Truth was there and remains with me, in both heart and mind. That night, I found peace and rest in knowing that Jesus died in my place. Today and every day, I can walk in peace and rest knowing that Jesus also rose again. He still holds my hand. He still lifts me up and He continues to save me from the fate I deserve, by standing with me before the Father and stating that He paid my debt; in full. I’ve placed my trust in Him and in Him found peace.