On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? (Romans 9:20)
Last night I dreamed a dream so real it startled me awake. I couldn’t go back to sleep.
I saw myself waiting at a traffic light on a street I didn’t recognize. Through the open window I heard strangers on the corner call to each other: “Roger is dead.”
Somehow I knew who they were talking about, and the news stunned me. I couldn’t believe it.
I wouldn’t believe it.
I pushed the gas pedal and raced toward the funeral home. In moments I burst into the viewing room and stood by my friend's open casket.
He was lying on his left side, curled almost in a fetal position. And the blood. It was everywhere. On his chest. At the bottom of the casket. It covered his abdomen. His hands. His clothing.
I fell across him and wept – a deep, visceral sobbing.
I rarely have dreams in which I weep.
“Roger!” I shouted. “What are you doing here? What happened?”
My groans knew no balm as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and pressed him to myself.
Then, in the corner of my eye I saw a man beside me. Late thirties. Five-ten, or so. Clean-shaved. Light colored short-sleeved shirt. Dark, thick hair.
I knew it was Jesus.
I stood and turned to Him, “You can’t let him die!”
It was not a request. It was an order.
“You just can’t.”
I didn’t try to choke down my grief.
Jesus looked into my eyes. I can still see his gaze hours later as I write this. His expression unmistakable. It said: “Who are you to tell Me what to do?”
And then, as suddenly as His expression rebuked, it softened. And again, without a word His eyes said:
Then I awakened. The image of my friend and the coffin stayed with me. But so, too, did the Lord’s words.
When I realized I had only dreamed it, I prayed a while for Roger. And then I sought to understand if the dream might mean something more. Perhaps a message for me.
After a time, I concluded: In the grip of even the deepest tragedy, or grief, despair, or heartache, Jesus always asks: “Who are you to tell Me what to do?”
And then He says: