The Good Friday Dream I’ll Never Forget

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43

The year was 1973, and I was at college in Virginia. It was a small women’s college that had a club called the Religious Life Association (RLA). It was there that I had participated in my first ever “Stations of the Cross” during Holy Week. Having grown up in a Presbyterian church, I found the concept of reenacting the events of Good Friday unfamiliar but interesting. I must have still been thinking about the event the night I had that vivid dream, one that I still remember, fifty years later.

I was in the balcony of the dimly lit chapel, watching a group of students walking through the Stations of the Cross. From that vantage point I started to notice two things happening simultaneously. One was that others were joining the ritual. At the same time, as if to accommodate the growing crowd, the sanctuary itself was gradually expanding. Moments later, the ceiling had disappeared, and what had been the sanctuary was now a courtyard under a night sky. At some point the lights morphed into flickering torches. As I strained to see what was going on below me, it seemed that the “reenactment” was disturbingly realistic. The Man at the center of attention seemed to be the victim of a real beating. I heard voices shouting viciously. If this was an act, they were very good at it!

At some point I realized this was no reenactment of the Stations of the Cross – this was the real thing! And if that were true, that meant the One at the center of it, getting beaten bloody was – Jesus!

I couldn’t just stand there watching it happen. Determined to help Him, I tore down the stairs, although I had no idea what I would or could do to help, once I got to Him – if that were even possible.

Once in the courtyard, I pushed my way through the mass of people for what seemed like hours, desperate to reach my Lord and dearest Friend. Finally, I broke through and was alarmed to see that He was already being nailed to the cross! I screamed, “NO!” and grabbed at His hand but only succeeded in tearing His flesh even more. He winced in pain. As He continued to suffer the torture, I was horrified to find that the more I tried to “fix” what was happening, the worse I made it. I began sobbing hysterically, “I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry!”

He turned His head, and as our eyes met, He said through the pain, “It’s OK.”

And I woke up, strangely at peace.

Of course, Jesus wasn’t “OK.” And what I did to Him was certainly not “OK.” But even as a baby Christian, I knew what He meant. I was forgiven because of what He went through for me. Yes, my sin had helped nail Him to that cross, whatever good intentions I might have professed. I was a fallen, flawed, foolish woman! But I wasn’t going to get the punishment I deserve, because He took it for me. I only had to come to Him, see His suffering, believe it, and repent, and I would be forgiven.

And now, fifty years later, I am still a fallen, flawed, foolish, forgiven woman.

Prayer: Jesus, I can never thank You enough for what You did for me, even when I was in my sin and ignorance. Today I pray for those who don’t know what they have done to You through their sin – intentional or not. May they see their guilt, repent, and be forgiven as I have been. I pray, too, for those who do know the depth of their sin and how their sins and the sin of all humanity have hurt You, but who don’t know they can be forgiven. Please bring them also to the foot of the Cross, to repent and receive the assurance of Your forgiveness and promise of eternal life. Finally, I pray for those who have, as I have, received the gospel and been saved from the power of sin. May our faith grow ever stronger, especially during this time when Your suffering, death and resurrection are commemorated all over the world. In Your precious name, Amen.

30 thoughts on “The Good Friday Dream I’ll Never Forget

  1. Wow! what a dream Annie. It is really humbling the part where you were trying to help and only made it worse, gosh it cuts deep that it is my sin too that nailed him to the cross. Yesterday we had the Tenebrae service and it was overwhelming to go through the events of the day realising the weight of the sacrifice and the magnitude of his love for us.


  2. Annie, as I read your dream, I was watching along with you—two fallen, flawed, foolish women trying to fix and making it worse, but then miraculously, passionately forgiven. You have been blessed with such a powerful gift to see and reenact Grace and Truth. For some reason I recalled that scene from one of your books (Vision?) in the music room when your teacher was sick. I was there with you then, too. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention that scene, Deb. I was just recording that chapter of “Vision” yesterday! In fact, we finished recording the book! Next comes some editing, and soon it’ll be available in audio, along with “Counselor.” 😀


  3. What a powerful dream! My heart is with you there. Peter is one of my favorite disciples for that very reason, because he is a pragmatist who wants to fix things, too. I have a hard time letting go, letting things play out as they should, as God wills. That often requires a lot of wisdom and discernment, so we have to really lean into the Lord and know His voice.


  4. I wish my dreams made as much sense as some of yours! That’s a good one, Ann. Our church had a blessed service last night; there was a wooden cross at the front, and eventually, we were asked to write down our sins and then nail (thumb-tack) them to that cross. When everyone was done, only the top of the vertical beam was not covered with paper. I found it to be a powerful image of the forgiveness that you wrote about. I’m looking forward to being with my spiritual siblings again tomorrow morning. May you also (continue to) have the most blessed of weekends.


    1. You too, Keith
      I love illustrations like that. I sometimes picture the Lord reaching into my heart, ripping all the “crud” out by the roots, and nailing it to the cross.
      Our pastor in Michigan was giving a sermon on forgiveness, and at the end he had everyone write down their sins – or maybe it was sins done against them. Anyway, he had us all being the slips of paper to the front and throw them into a metal container. When he had collected all of them, he lit a match and tossed it in, and we watched them all burn.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Moving. If we ever see in Heaven some kind of recording of actual Jesus being hurt I don’t know if I can watch it….
    Tangent: What college is it in Virginia? Been fascinated with Virginia lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! Very dramatic dream. I think some try to remove the nails because they feel as if their sins are beyond his forgiveness but the truth is, they’re not! Or some may be so deceived they don’t want or think they need His forgiveness but the truth is, they do. So do I and I am so grateful that God gave his only Son that who so ever believes may be saved.


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