I had a nightmare a few days ago. I was on my way to church, when I suddenly realized that I had forgotten that I was supposed to preach that day. I panicked. Then I remembered that I left a sermon on my office computer for occasions like this. But then I realized that I didn’t know what street I was on. Every effort to find my way to church failed. I could feel my blood pressure shoot up. When I looked at my watch, I found that I was already 15 minutes late for service. At the height of my anxiety, I woke up.

It felt so real to me that it took me several minutes to realize that it was just a dream.

When I was a child, common nightmares were being chased by someone bad and not being able to run. Or a monster coming after me and me shooting a pistol at it in defense but no bullets coming out. Later in my youth, I frequently dreamed that I was flying. Sometimes I soared like a bird, but often I’d fall no matter how hard I flapped my arms and legs, or I’d get tangled up in power lines.

As an adult, most of my nightmares involve school – either graduate school or seminary. Almost all of them are related to exams, but in different situations. Sometimes I’m on my way to school and suddenly realize that I have a test that day that I haven’t prepared for. Sometimes I’m looking for the classroom where I’m supposed to take my test and I can’t find it anywhere. Sometimes it’s the last day of the semester, the day of the final exam, and I realize that I haven’t attended a single class that semester, and I panic because I won’t be able to graduate.

When I wake up from these nightmares, realize that they’re only dreams, and remind myself that I’m not a student anymore and that I have no tests to take, I feel immeasurable relief and happiness.

I think that we may have similar feelings when we die and go to heaven. We’ll be relieved and happy and feel as if all the pain, sufferings, and grief we experienced on earth were just bad dreams.

We may also feel a little ashamed and feel sorry to God when we realize how shortsighted and childish we were on earth when we complained about being alone when in fact God was with us, or how we whined about God not answering our prayers when He was actually answering them all the time.

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