is there a lawyer in the house? – a Lenten meditation

judge's gavelEarly this morning, earlier than usual, around 3, I awoke. Stirred from sleep by a troubling dream. The scene. A courtroom. I was on trial for failing to be the best me I could be. I stood alone, anxious, praying for a lawyer.

More than once, I’ve had (I wonder whether others – many? most? – have had) this dream. Always it rouses me. Always in the middle of the night. Always with a memory that I’ve done something I shouldn’t or I’ve left undone something I should. Always making me newly aware of an inner separation between the person I want (or believe I was meant) to be and the person I am. A separation so deeply internal that I can’t fathom how far it runs; only that it cuts through every aspect of my life. A separation so timelessly inherent that I can’t know whence it began; only that, as far as I can remember, it always was. A separation revealed in every disconnection between my good intentions and my less than noble actions. A separation demanding that I condemn myself.

I arose from bed, retired to my study, pulled a Bible from my shelf, and poured over Paul’s words: “Who will bring a charge against us? Christ Jesus intercedes for us” (Romans 8.33, 34). I found renewed comfort in the apostle’s testimony that I have a divine attorney. I continued reading: “I am convinced that…(nothing can) separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8.38-39).

Ah, love. The attorney. How simple and profound, and how real and true to my experience!

I thought about moments when another, in her/his very human being and doing, incarnating Paul’s witness to the work of Christ Jesus, loved me with:

  • Kindness (kinship) that, with no thought or desire for repayment, went out of its way to help me;
  • Patience that did more than tolerate me, but genuinely accepted and celebrated my God-given human dignity (even when I felt sadly odd or different and especially when I acted in less than dignified ways!);
  • Forgiveness that sought to soothe a wrong done and to salvage our shattered relationship.

And I thought about moments when I had shown to, for, and with another this same kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

Dreams, haunting in their power to evoke, provoke guilt and shame, will come. Thank goodness, thank God that love that “bears…believes…hopes…endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13.7) stays.

2 thoughts on “is there a lawyer in the house? – a Lenten meditation

  1. Well you’re right Paul, you’re not alone in having had such a dream. I even have them sometimes when I’m wide awake! Something flashes before my eyes showing me what I should be doing, that I’m not. Or flashing back to something I did that I shouldn’t have. So I feel deeply connected to this post.

    My responses to the dream vary – sometimes I get on the computer, or phone a friend, or (the dumbest choice) grab a snack. What I’ve actually never done is what you did when you awoke from the dream, is to grab my Bible.

    “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”. As I read these words, it was comforting even though I feel no trouble at the moment! I believe I’m pretty good in the categories of love, patience and kindness – both in giving and in receiving… BUT I think that when shame and guilt, ,as if I’m on trial do overwhelm me in the future, I’ll do something different and reach out for my Bible. It’s certainly cheaper than a lawyer, and its words can help to narrow the separation between what we want to be and what we actually are. Thanks! This is the perfect Lenten lesson for me.


  2. Thanks, Loretta, for your customary honesty. As I wondered whether others have had (do have) the same experience, I thought: what if no one has or does? That would leave me feeling more alone than the dream tends to do quite on its own! Thanks for your affirmation. Thanks, too, for delineating the things you do when such dreams occur (I also appreciate your witness to having “waking” dreams!). As I reflect, it’s no surprise that I was driven to read and reflect afresh on Romans 8. Paul’s image is a courtroom. So, it matched what I wanted, needed to hear!

    Liked by 1 person

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