Friday, June 8, 2007

I Traveled Back in Time...

I thought I'd share this story with you about a "dream" I had nearly two years ago. I swear that what I'm about to share with you is true. I realize that, once you read this, you'll be inclined to think that I'm losing it. But I tell you, dream or not, this was a real moment in my life. I was at a point in my life where I was really struggling with being completely unhappy with where I was. I don't know, maybe it's because I was getting older…and hadn't achieved any of the goals I had laid out for myself. I was struggling with depression on a major level. My life just hadn't turned out how I had hoped. And, seemingly at the end of my rope, I started begging God, almost daily, to let me go back in time. "Please, God...let me go back to college and start over. I've screwed up my life in so many ways since then. Can I please have a do-over?" I became so obsessed with the notion that it was all I thought about…at work…as I was lying down in bed to sleep at night, etc. During my drive to work everyday, I would talk out loud to God, pleading my case. "God, you can do anything. You are the one who created time. You can send me back. No one has to know. Just let me go back and start over. I'm just so disappointed with the way things have turned out. I won't tell anyone, I promise!" Then, after several weeks of this pleading, God answered. It was late at night and I had just laid down in bed for the night. I closed my eyes and started praying that prayer again, silently. It was seriously one of the most earnest prayers I had ever prayed. It was a prayer of desperation. Before I knew it, I was sound asleep. But within only a few short minutes, I awoke. Wait...where am I? I wasn't in my big comfy bed at home...I was on a small, hard mattress. I sat up. Wait a minute…I recognize this place. Holy cow! I'm in my dorm room! You did it! God thank you! Thank you! I can't believe you let me do this! Oh this is awesome! I sat there on the edge of the squeaky little bed. Room 210 of Jennings dorm on Howard Payne University campus. The room wreaked of the dirty laundry that was always piled on the floor. The bluish glow of the streetlight outside was peering through the blinds. It was my dorm room…just the way I remembered it. I must have sat there for 20 seconds, eyes and jaw wide open, taking in the entire scene. It was honestly one of the most miraculous and happiest moments of my life. I looked across the room. There was my roommate, Kevin Gradel. He was sound asleep in his bed, curled up facing the cold, white brick wall. It was so bizarre to see him. Kevin died in 1997 from complications due to diabetes. Once I graduated, I lost touch with him. I only found out about his death while trying to track him down online a few years later. I was heartbroken to find out he had died. I didn't even get to go to the funeral.Yet there he was…sound asleep just a few feet away from me. Without hesitation, I jumped out of my bed and ran over to Kevin and started shaking him. "Kevin! Kevin! Wake up! Listen to've got to get some help've got diabetes. If you don't do something about it, it's going to kill you in 1997!" No sooner than I finished the sentence, I found myself waking up back in my bed at home. No! No! I screwed up! I had a chance and I screwed up! Somehow I knew I wasn't supposed to share that information with Kevin, but I did it anyway. I broke the rules...and God brought me back. As I lay there in my bed, I started weeping. I'm not sure if my wife heard me crying in bed or if she just decided to let me cry it out. She had been dealing with my depression for so long that she must've been at wit's end on what to do next. So many emotions came over me. Was that my chance? Did God really give me a chance to start over…only to have me screw it up? Seeing Kevin alive brought so many emotions too. Feeling helpless that I couldn't stop his impending death. To this day, I'm still torn, wondering whether this was a dream or an actual event. I know that sounds odd, but it was so real. The smells, the details. The fact that I immediately knew that God had taken me back in time. He had granted me this desperate wish. I got my do-over…and blew it. For more information on Tim Glenn, go to tim glenn


Andy said...

Take heart, Tim. Are God's plan's perfect?

God's plan's, not ours.

Don't you think the answer is yes? Then surely it's a mistake for us to think that God's plan today is any less perfect than God's plan ten-years-ago.

We tend to think in terms of plan A and plan B. That's because we're finite. When plan A fails, plan B is what we're stuck with. But one of the big mysteries of theology is that God foreknew everything that would happen when he created humanity, and yet he still created us. The implication of this is that the redemption of the fallen world is not God’s plan B. But don’t get confused by this. It’s not God’s plan B, because God does not have plan-B’s. His plan is always perfect.

C.S. Lewis resonates with many of history's great Christian thinkers when he suggests that the world we live in is the only possible world God could have created. In other words, a world where the potential for abandoning God is actually realized is the only world where love, mercy, grace, justice, judgment, and holiness can be real. Arguing that God could have made it otherwise because God can do anything is like arguing that He could have created a square circle; the problem is not with God's ability, but with our understanding.

Let me use my son as an example. I want Ryan to make good choices. In order for my desire to be realized, Ryan must make choices. If I take choice away from him, I take away the possibility of him making a good choice. And in order for there to be a choice there must be an option other than the one I’d like him to make; there must be a bad option to choose. (I’m sure you’re familiar with this argument, but I’ll delineate it just in case it’s new to one of your readers reading this comment.) In order for my will to be done, Ryan must be allowed to choose. In other words, my desire for Ryan to choose right from wrong actually necessitates that Ryan has the option and potential to choose to do wrong. My will, then, actually allows Ryan choosing wrong. That's how C.S. Lewis views the philosophical problem of evil.

My point, though, is that God does not have a plan B. The God of all eternity is not under the gun to have your life make a difference (quite apart from the fact that the greatest significance of your life, to God, is you). Redemption is as much a part of His perfect plan for your life as sanctification is. Consequently, it does not matter how much you have screwed up, God's plan for your life continues to be perfect. As far as God’s plan for your life goes, as long as you have accepted the gift of salvation, you will never, ever, ever have missed the boat. In fact, even in the case of those going to hell, God’s will is still done and is still perfect because there is no external standard to measure God against. He is the standard.

Now, let's assume that your time-traveling was a real event (this is God we're talking about, after all). Your concern is that you blew your chance to start over, so he brought you back to today. Why would he do that? To punish you? If the present is ruined by the past, and if God knows the plans he has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future, why would he put you back here if he had taken you back to the past because it provided you with more potential?

No, Tim, I don't think God took you there (whether in the flesh or in the Spirit, I do not know) to give you a go-over. I think he took you back there to show you that His calling on your life is not dependent on your ability or success rate. The you of today is the Tim God has a perfect plan for. You have not missed the boat, nor will that ever be the case. When tomorrow becomes today, it will still be true that the you of today is the Tim God has a perfect plan for. The God of redemption has called you, and His plan is one of redemption. He is fully able to redeem it today, tomorrow, and every day after that (or before it). And not just in terms of your salvation, but in terms of the impact He can have on the earth for His kingdom through you.

God’s plan for your life is still perfect.

Even so, it’s okay to feel like a failure. A feeling is just a feeling. I had a headache a few days ago and felt like someone had shoved a brick into the space between my eyes. The fact that this was not true did not make the feeling go away. But it was just a feeling. As I once heard a wise preacher say, “It’s okay to have doubts. Just remember to doubt your doubts.”

God’s plan for your life is perfect. Still.

Andy said...

By the way, feel free to remind me of all the above the next time you find me down on myself because of where or how life is going. I go there with annoying frequency, so I hope I didn't sound preachy. I just wanted to encourage you. Besides, it's the truth.

Tim Glenn said...

Great comments, Andy!
This is very interesting theological logic. (Does that make sense? I suppose I could have just said "theology.")

Yeah, I'm still struggling with the whole "God has no plan B" thing. Mostly because I look back on my life and think, "Surely this isn't what you had planned!" But that's not taking into consideration the concept of "free will."

You wrote: "I think he took you back there to show you that His calling on your life is not dependent on your ability or success rate."
Man, how easy it is to get caught up in that though. To believe that God's keeping a scorecard and after so many failures says "Okay, you're obviously not going to accomplish all I wanted you too. Let's dumb-down the objectives." Ha!

Lisa Tawn Bergren said...

Fascinating. Dreams can be so intense and amazing--and illuminating and horrifying and disturbing...

I'd be curious to know what you think God's purpose in that "time travel" dream was, now years later. Have you gained greater perspective on it through the years?

Based on your comments, I wondered if he was using your roommate as a symbol for you--he's asleep, you're trying to wake him, warn him his life-clock is ticking--which maybe, God was trying to do for you? Not in looking backward and wanting the do-over, but in looking forward? Making the most of the time you have left?

No one can interpret a dream but the dreamer. Just a thought to ponder. Thanks for sharing your story with me, fellow time traveler!