I’ve never had a Jesus dream before. But I had one the other night.

My dreams for the night were winding to an end — all the activity and people who had been in my dreams had departed, and I was left alone at nighttime near the shore of a large body of water doing something task-oriented.

I saw a light on the water, but didn’t think much of it. It slowly, but steadily came closer and closer to me until I could see that it wasn’t a boat or buoy, but a man walking on the water, radiant. I recognized instantly that it was Jesus and ran to meet him.

I threw my arms around him, hugging him and sobbing uncontrollably. “I missed you so much!” I cried. I felt like a wife who was reunited with her true love who had been gone to war for years and with whom she had been unable to have any contact. I desperately wanted Jesus to say something to me, but he didn’t. He just hugged me, so lovingly and so tightly.

Even though the Lord didn’t speak to me in the dream, the message of the dream was unmistakable: I have missed out on an “ever present” intimate relationship with the Lord – one that is promised to me and that I can have. It wasn’t a condemning message, but a hopeful one: my true love never left for war but is standing behind me. Rather than save the letters, photos, and memorabilia for his return and stay true to his memory while he is gone, all I need to do is turn around.

I realized that I have been living my relationship with Jesus in many respects as though I am grieving, separated from him until I pass into eternity. While I have had his word (Bible), other followers, and intermittent promptings and revelations to guide and sustain me, I’ve been lacking the very literal personal relationship with Jesus. He’s not a memory to honor, but a living person to love now.

This insidious deception has sneakily penetrated all aspects of my spiritual journey and robbed me of joy that I am entitled to (a fox in my vineyard!). One of the things I’m focusing on now is cultivating an ever-present, personal relationship with Jesus so that I can experience him “hugging” me every day in the same, powerful way that I experienced it in my dream.