Last week, my friend Luis had a dream he shared with me that has left a mark in my heart as well. Here’s how he recounted it to me:
Luis was in the mountains engaged with a hoard of wicked beasts who were trying to devour people around him. These were not animals, but terrifying monsters, and Luis had a gun to defend against them.
Then, in the snow, he noticed a trail of blood heading up the mountain. He knew it wasn’t from the animals, but from someone in trouble. As he followed it up the mountain the drops of blood kept increasing until it became a small rivulet and then a flow of blood. Rushing to the top, he was shocked to see that the blood was flowing from Jesus as he hung on the cross.
Jesus looked right at him and his eyes of love held Luis for a moment, touching him deeply. But the beasts were coming, so Luis rushed up to the cross and turned around to protect Jesus.
Luis was overwhelmed. There were too many for him to fight off. And then, Jesus spoke to him. “Luis, why don’t you trust me?”
Luis was confused and hurt by his words. As he continued to battle, he shouted out, “Trust you? Don’t you see I’m trying to protect you?”
“But you turned your back on me.”
“I am trying to protect you. If I turn around, I’ll be devoured?”
Jesus answered, “Don’t you trust me to deal with them?”
Despite his fear, Luis turned away from the wild beasts and was surprised to discover Jesus standing right in front of him, no longer on the cross.
Jesus spoke again, “Where are your enemies now?”
Luis realized it had grown quiet behind him. He turned his head and saw all the monsters were lying dead on the hillside.
As he turned back to Jesus, Jesus embraced him tenderly. “Luis, when will you learn that I am the only weapon you need?”
That’s when he woke up.
Some dreams are difficult to interpret or understand. This is not one of them. Laying down his weapons is a lesson Jesus has been teaching Luis for over a year. Growing up in a cartel-riddled section of Mexico with an army Captain who took him under his wing, Luis was trained for mountain combat. But life in this kingdom works very different from the ways of the world.
Could it be true that as well-intentioned as we might be as we take on Jesus’s enemies, we are only turning our back on him to engage a fruitless fight we cannot win? Isn’t that Peter cutting off the ear of the high priest, or Israel making an alliance with Egypt against the Assyrians. If we’re not careful, our best intentions for Jesus can have the opposite effect of what we are trying to accomplish. The Scriptures are full of such examples, as is are own lives if we look carefully. This kingdom works backwards in almost every way our natural inclinations will lead us, which is why Jesus invites us to be led by the Spirit and not our “best wisdom” or “good intentions.”
Jesus has already disarmed the powers of darkness on the cross. As we find our rest in him, we will discover just how defeated they are.
And only by keeping him before us can we see what he wants of us in the world.