Last week, I had a vivid dream. When I awoke, I remembered it. That’s rare for me, but I think God wanted me to remember it…
I’m on a group tour, in an unfamiliar, metropolitan area. We head to some sea ports, and our tour leader announces that we’ll be docking some ferry boats. Each person is responsible for purchasing his or her own ticket. This news makes me panic slightly: Do I have enough money?
I approach the ticket counter and ask for a ticket. I’m told that I cannot purchase an individual ticket. Tickets must be purchased in groups of six. SIX?!? I don’t know anyone else in the group very well. Hmm…Maybe I can find someone with six tickets and offer to pay them for my single ticket. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.
I open my wallet and — Oh no! I don’t even have enough to pay my own way! Embarrassed, I look up at the ticket booth attendant and stare at the large total. What am I going to do?
But when I look down at my wallet again, suddenly I see loads of cash. What?? Where did all these bills come from? This is more than enough to buy an entire group of tickets!! Gleefully, I purchase a group of tickets and turn to the large crowd of my fellow tourists. I eagerly search the crowd for someone who needs a ticket; they don’t even have to pay me for it.
So, after having this dream I woke up and understood its meaning. (I’ll get to that soon.) The meaning gave me consolation and peace. Then, I read the day’s Gospel reading, and understood my dream even more:
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27-33)
Jesus here teaches that we should count the cost of following him. Is it worth it? Will what we ‘pay’ (give up) in suffering and sacrifices be worth what Jesus has to offer us?
In my dream, I was told that I had to board a boat, which is a common metaphor for the Church. What’s more, the image of a boat sailing across water to a mysterious place has been used to describe our journey to eternal life. I was told that I could not get on this boat, however, by myself. This, too, is true of our spiritual journey; we can’t go it alone.
After I had counted the cost of group tickets, I realized that I didn’t have enough to even pay my own way. Then, miraculously, I had more than enough to pay for a group of people. This speaks to me about God’s grace. Yes, God calls us to ‘carry our cross’ and follow Him, but at some point in our lives, we realize that is impossible to achieve this on our own. The solution? God generously gives us grace — an abundant gift. When we receive God’s grace, we joyfully share it with others. That’s the only way we will reach Heaven.
Why This Dream Means So Much to Me
For some reason, I’ve always had trouble asking others for help or advice. I’ve always wanted to do things by myself. (No joke: Only after months of counseling did I begin feeling comfortable enough to ask others to pray for me!)
I believe that God gave me this dream because He knows I’m a visual learner. He helped me visualize the truth: I can’t earn my own way into Heaven. I can’t carry my cross alone. Heaven will only be within my grasp when I humble myself enough to accept God’s grace and the companionship of my fellow pilgrims.
So, Lord Jesus: Yes, the cost of following you will mean humbling myself. It will mean allowing others to help me carry my cross. I’ll need to accept that I am not strong enough or equipped enough to continue this journey on my own. But that cost is worth the reward.