Being known

One of the scariest dreams that I’ve ever had, and I remember it to this day, was about a plane crash. This was during my high school days. I’d dreamed that I was looking up in the sky, and there was a large plane. It suddenly started spiraling down, down, down into the large field that I was standing. There was a large crash and a huge billow of smoke. When the smoke cleared, there was an ugly, monkey-like creature in the middle. His face was dark, and eyes blood-shot. He looked all around and then looked at me intently. “I know about you,” he said, with an evil smile. “I know all about you. EVERYTHING.” That’s when I woke up.

Looking back and remembering this dream, I tried to pinpoint what about this dream had terrified me so. It wasn’t so much about the plane crash, but about the monkey. It was that someone, some entity, knew my details, all of it. Someone who didn’t have my best in mind knew all about me.

When someone knows you, you are vulnerable. This could be something on the surface, like your credit card info, where you live, or who your family is. Or it could be something deeper and more personal, like your habits, greatest fears, most hurtful failures, and hopes.

We live in an age where everything is for show. It’s up for visual attention and discussion. We expose ourselves on media platforms (or at least parts of ourselves), and get easily amused or angered by video snippets and commentary. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what is fact and what is opinion. We are inundated by information and talking points from the left, right, and every angle. There is no more sacredness, privacy, or respect. We talk and argue and fight for respect in disrespectful ways. We point the finger at every group and even ourselves. All this noise, distraction, and confusion gets to us: physically, emotionally, mentally. We do this because we want to know about others. We want others to know us. But is it the real them? Or is it only partially real? Is it the real us? Or is it only partially real, a diluted and corrupted form? As a singer once sang,

All I want is clarity. Clarity. Because all of my heroes are frauds, just like me. Just like me. So let every man be a liar, let only God be truth . . .

We are, when we really look at ourselves, flawed. Deeply flawed. We all fall short. Many times, and it seems more recently, for the people we’ve looked up to and respected, shocking things are discovered. If we’ve based our lives or perceptions around these person(s), our lives and minds get shattered.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe someone you’ve looked up to suddenly got exposed for something. Maybe someone you’ve trusted with the deepest parts of yourself, horrifically betrayed you. Maybe you feel like you’ve failed yourself. Maybe even—maybe you feel like God failed you, betrayed you . . . that because it seemed like he didn’t do anything about your situation . . . you have this resentment. How could you, God? Why did you? I don’t understand. You don’t make sense, God.

And there are no words to comfort such hurt . . . but there is someone who went through and felt that betrayal, by his closest friend, and by people who once adored him but then in a split second turned their backs on him. He was humiliated, spat on, and betrayed . . . finally to die a horrible death, on a cross. For you . . . for me. And I’m not talking about the clichéd, stained-glass Jesus you’ve come to hate, the Jesus that some people, even church-goers, have misrepresented, the Jesus that people try to make over into every possible image, after their own desires.

I’m talking about the real Jesus, who got angry at the money-changers in the temple, went to a party and turned water into wine, spoke truth and love to a broken woman, rebuked his closest followers when they were off track, and raised people who were 4-days dead from the grave. The Jesus who knows everything about you, but won’t betray you. The Jesus who loves you. Who meets you, personally, where you are. Where you can “dwell in the shelter of the Most High, and rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” And rest in His secret hiding place:

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble. You surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

In the famous movie, Ben-hur, there is a scene where a Roman soldier is whipping the main character, Judah Ben-hur. Judah is torn, in rags, and bowing down under the blows. But at that moment, Jesus happens to be walking by. He takes one look at the Roman soldier. You don’t see Jesus’ face, but can see the face of the Roman soldier. The soldier hesitates, and looks ashamed. He can sense through Jesus’ eyes that Jesus knows everything about him. The Roman soldier casts his eyes down, and his face crumples, as he stops whipping Judah and backs away.

Even for my worst fears (like that evil monkey in my dream), one look from Jesus can shrivel them up like nothing less than dead leaves. What evil or difficult circumstance, which in the shadows may seem huge, insurmountable, and overwhelming . . . when the light shines on them, they become like dead gnats, ashes you don’t give a second thought to.

So don’t give up, friend. Stick close to the one who has you in his arms. Stay nourished daily by sticking to the source of strength through prayer, and staying in the Word, the Bible. The days are tough, but we need to buckle up and stay strong. Not only for ourselves but also for our families, loved ones, and a hurting world. God is near us.

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