Have you ever had one of those dreams that you thought was so real that when you wake up you begin to question reality and whether or not you actually did the things you dreamed about. It is a very unsettling feeling especially when the dream you just awoke from was less than pleasant. God speaks to us in so many wonderful ways and one of those ways in our sleep through what we call dreams. In today's reading we read about one such instance where Jeremiah, at the end of chapter 31 says this: "At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me."
All that we have read to this point in this chapter is his retelling of the dream he had been given from the Lord. Personally, I have only had this happen one time. It was a powerful experience. I have never had a dream be so real and so crystal clear upon awaking. It was a powerful revelation of the fact that people will be living life, enjoying the things of this world, hanging out at the lake on a perfect summer day, and without any thought toward Christ or his coming again he will return and people will be clamoring to be received by him only to be left behind in despair knowing what it was that they missed.
The dream that Jeremiah has is really a retelling of our own story as followers of Christ. when we make the decision to follow Christ and to ask him to be Lord of our lives and to forgive us of our sins, we in effect are released from captivity (or exile) and are given freedom. He tells them that they will return from the land of their enemy and that there is a hope for their future.
We have been given a hope beyond measure in the grace we have received from Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean that we are a perfect people but we are a people who have been restored to relationship with the God who created us.
As we read further into chapter 31 the story sounds more and more like our own as he quotes what the people of Ephraim say.
Jeremiah 31:18-20 - ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
When we come to the realization that we are hopelessly lost without the Lord we begin to see the truth of the reality we live in. We begin to see that we have strayed from the one who loves us more deeply than we could ever know, and it causes us (or at least it should) to come before him in repentance. The more that we understand how far we have strayed the more we "beat our breast" knowing that we have brought dishonor and shame to ourselves and have separated ourselves from the savior of our souls.
But as Jeremiah states here, and as we read in the New Testament as well, we have a hope and a future when we put our lives in the hands of the Lord. There is nothing to fear when we trust in Him. No matter what nightmare may be playing out before us we know that Our God is mighty to save and that the hope and future we have been given is so much more than a dream. It's reality.