For a moment, everything went dark. I wasn’t unconscious, but there was nothing for me to see or hear or feel. Then I was gripped from both sides by impossibly strong arms and I felt a sensation of going upward, though there was no visual context for me to see this happening. The speed I seemed to be carried was unfathomable, it didn’t seem real or possible to be moving at that velocity.
As I was carried upward, I heard a loud and terrible sound begin to engulf me. It was as if a thousand trumpets were blasting through one instrument. Increasing with the sound of the trumpet, light filled my view. It grew brighter and brighter, far surpassing what could be called “blinding.” It was as if the light had a substance, solid and all encompassing. It was warm and comforting, yet brighter and wilder than the sun. My surroundings were untamed. The sound of the trumpets and the density of the light overwhelmed me and I was both afraid and excited. Then, in a moment, I didn’t feel as if I were moving and whatever had been carrying me let go. I opened my eyes.
I stood there before Him.
I had nothing in my hands, no words on my lips. He looked toward me from His throne. His presence filled the room, yet, despite the bigness of His being, I felt as though He and I were the only people who existed. There was no one else there except for him and me, and everything I ever did. I knew for certain, without the slightest trace of a doubt that He knew everything there was to know about me. Every second of my life had led to this moment and I could not add, remove, or change a single thing I had ever done. The entirety of my earthly life was sealed, and I knew it would always be this way.
Before this moment I casually fantasized and daydreamed about how interesting it would be to see all of the statistics of my life in a list. How many steps did I ever take? How many times have I ever smiled? How did I impact the people around me? This was no longer a fantasy, and it was not the interesting and fun experience I used to enjoy imagining. He knew. He knew everything. It was as if I was finally able to understand, for certain, that His omniscience extended around every moment of my life, reaching down into my mind and heart for every moment I have existed. There was nothing about my life He did not know. It was no longer a funny idea to wonder about how many steps I ever took, or how many smiles I ever gave, or how I impacted the people around me. The reality of all of that information was exposed now, and even if I wanted to hide or ignore or lie about anything in my life, it was not possible.
He knew everything.
I stood before Him for what seemed like forever, though it might have only been for a moment. He seemed kindly toward me, but I understood the seriousness of what was happening.
This was my judgement.
Everything I have ever done was exposed and laid bare in light of who He is. Every thought, every desire, every concern or anxiety. Everything. Even my thoughts were in judgement. Secret desires of my heart were as visible to him as if I had premiered a 4D movie. My mind raced through the events of my life, from childhood to adulthood to that very moment. I knew so much of it was wasteful. There had been so much time I had simply done nothing with what I understood about Him. I had known and tasted real truth, a real understanding of what was really real, and there had been so much waste. The regret I felt at this realization was suffocating because I knew there would be no more years, days, or even seconds to do anything further. All of this within a single moment.
Parable of the talents…
Everything was judged and cataloged, from the biggest moments to the minutiae of day-to-day life: good and fruitful, or useless and evil. Not the things I had done as an unbeliever. Somehow I knew, not with the faith I expressed in my earthly life, but I knew with certainty that the things I had done before I knew Him were already dealt with. The life of sin and death I had lived before I knew Him was destroyed upon His cross. He was not judging me innocent or guilty. He had atoned for me in the fullness of time through His own shed blood. No, now He was looking into the things I had done as His ambassador upon the earth.
He was judging my deeds as His servant.
It was as if every deed and thought became a 3-dimensional object in front of me, either burning up in the radiance of His holiness or transforming into some sort of treasure at His feet. I experienced true shame for this, though He never ceased His kindly demeanor toward me. The purity of the treasure became so much more enticing to me in that moment than the burning remains of what was now so clearly rubbish. The things I had clung to in my earthly life which was not consumed with His fame and glory seemed so petty and small and disgusting now. Even things which I had at one time felt were important, now seemed as vulgar to me as any filth I had ever witnessed on the earth. The important moments which were only important in the moment burned away so completely it made me feel sick to my stomach. So I tried to stop looking at the burning and to focus on the treasures; the precious few treasured moments where I had turned my gaze toward Him. Truly turned my gaze toward His worth and glory. Such precious few treasures in light of a life lived with the knowledge of Him.
There was pain in looking at either side. Joy intertwined with sadness in the treasure for what was there and what was not there, pain like lashes upon my back for what was burning away. I realized what I had loved from the earth now had no value. It was like a slap to my face which I knew I deserved. I did not protest. I could not. I was wrong. I was wrong so many times. This was a light beating in comparison to what I truly deserved.
In His mercy toward me, this ended. Everything had been taken into account. My precious few treasures lay at His feet. Such a paltry offering to the Lord of all. I could not bring myself to even look Him in the eye, so deep was the shame I felt. How do you honor God with treasure, especially such a meager offering?
I heard a sound and looked up to see Him walking toward me. I lost any strength I thought I had left and lay prostrate before Him. I could not even look at His feet. I could tell He was near, and my eyes filled with the hot tears of shame and understanding. It was at this moment where I truly understood the full breadth and width and depth of His love and what He had done for me. He lowered Himself toward me and place His hand on my shoulder raising me to my knees, my eyes still closed and still full of tears. I felt His finger under my eyes, taking away my tears. And He spoke to me.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I opened my eyes and saw His smile. Laughter filled my soul and I understood that I was faithful with little. I had been faithful with a little. For the years I knew Him in my earthly life, I had indeed been faithful with a little, though I yearned to be faithful with much. I looked at the treasure of my life and saw Jesus Christ, my Savior, reflected in each moment of faithfulness. I saw His glory on display and His infinite worth respected and desired and adored within that small treasure. I looked into His eyes and He welcomed me into His kingdom.
The dream seemed so vivid, so real. I knew I had to change my life. I knew I wanted to bring an offering of service to my Lord when I finally did meet Him face to face. My dreams remind me of the small treasures I offered Him through my life. Was He not worthy of more? What sin or foolishness was not worth sacrificing to bring the Savior all He deserves? What obedience could I render which would ever come near to the richness of His mercy and grace and love? If I lived a thousand years I could not hope to present an offering of sacrifice to Him worthy of Him. Yet, in my waking mind, I finally understood.
The Lamb that was slain is worthy of the rewards of His suffering.
I only want to live a life that agrees with that statement. Though the clarity of my dream seemed so final and fixed, I knew upon waking that I still had time on this earth to serve my Master, the Lord Jesus. May He grant me the mercy and grace I need to bring an offering of service to Him worthy of His sacrifice for me. I often pray for His return, but maybe now I will also pray that He tarries a little longer that I may serve Him more intentionally and more passionately on this earth, in this life.