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It was 4:00 a.m. and I was shaken. It was just a dream, but it was a bad dream. Monica and I were at my class reunion. I went to get her something, and, when I returned to our table, she was gone. My reaction was anger – I was sure that she had left with someone else (how is that for a ridiculous, bad dream thought!). Then I noticed that everyone was gone from our table, and the only items remaining were Monica’s phone, purse and shoes! She had left with someone else, but probably not of her own will – She had been snatched!

At that moment I woke up. It was 4:00 a.m. and I was shaken. I was still angry at Monica for leaving. I was ashamed of myself for being angry. And I feared for her wellbeing. It was just a dream, but a very bad dream … and I was shaken.

I was relieved when Monica turned on the TV a moment later – it meant she was still around. I managed to fall asleep again. However, when I awoke an hour later, I started my day on edge … just because of that short-lived bad dream!

I wonder how Joseph felt the morning after his first dream of that angel talking to him (Matthew 1.20-24). All the Bible tells us is that “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” (1.24) Personally, I think he was more shook up after angel-dream II. In that dream the angel said, “Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Joseph’s reaction was to take “the child and his mother by night and depart for Egypt.” (2.13-14) I wonder if it was around 4:00 a.m. when he awoke? And then I wonder how long it took Joseph to realize that neither one of these were bad dreams?

What about you – what have your dreams been like of late? Can you recall them? Do you wish to? They say we all dream; it is just a matter of whether we can remember them or not.

After my bad dream I used Psalm 121 to help calm me down. “I lift my eyes toward the hills. Where will my help come from?” (lying in bed, my eyes are naturally turned up). “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (no help found in that bad dream) “He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.” (He was keeping me safe in the middle of the bad dream and coming out of it) “The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night.” (Even if I feel shaken at 4:00 a.m.) “The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming (into bad dreams) and going (back into reality) both now and forever.”

This morning I awoke at 4:13 a.m. – not from any sort of dream, but with recollections of the many things from the day before that needed prayers … a couple struggling in their marriage, some young men stepping forward to serve Jesus, a woman who needs a new roof … The list went on and on. Half an hour later as I looked at my cell, I saw that another prayer issue had come as I slept. None of these were mere bad dreams (though perhaps the individuals may wish they were). All are part of the reality in which we live. So, awake or asleep … in the midst of good dreams and bad … we lift up our eyes in prayer and ask, “Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121.1-2) “Therefore I will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and mountains topple into the depths of the seas.” (Psalm 46.2) I may have been shaken by that bad dream … and you may be shaking in your boots at this very moment … but you are not alone, for “The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect YOUR life.” (Psalm 121.7)

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