Sunday, October 14, 2018

How God Communicates through Dreams

"For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword." -Job 33:14-18 ESV 

God has spoken to many through dreams, while they were asleep. Some examples include Abimelech, Daniel, Solomon, and Joseph among others. And we can even dare to believe that in these times God will speak to us through dreams (Acts 2:17). 

I remember I had this dream, and I can't stop thinking about it. I was sitting in a chair in this giant church. And all the seats were filled, and I was surrounded by children, and there were other adults, but lots of children. And we were all waiting for Jesus to enter. I knew he was coming soon. And there were no sides to this church, to the left and right it extended beyond my view. The anticipation was amazing. And then I looked up. I saw the most beautiful star filled sky. And I knew the stars were a reflection of what was around me, all the people. I realized that the body of Christ, the billions of people part of the church, were all a massive fulfillment of the promise God gave to Abraham when he said,"Count the stars if you can." And "I will make you a blessing to all nations." It was all connected. Then I woke up. One of the most beautiful dreams I've ever had...

I often have these intoxicating dreams where I'm running joyfully along beautiful golden trails, through the woods, along gorgeous sunny mountain paths.  I see lakes, and rivers, and fluffy golden fields, and patches of trees, and deep luminous forests.  Often I'm jogging along filled with the most inexpressible joy.  And other times it's night time, but I'm not afraid, in fact I'm enchanted by the wonders of the night.  I climb through dense forests, swinging from branch to branch, I climb from house to house, and walk into houses, exploring their rooms and then I walk back into the night.  

I used to do something I called "night walking" in the past.  I'd walk for hours, usually between 11pm and 6 am, walking across the city, through the woods, thinking, listening to music, exploring scenarios in my mind.  It was amazing.  To understand how God communes with us in dreams, is to understand something very special about how God communicates with us.

God meets us where we are.  That's something quite clear about how God communes in our dreams.  God meets me on those journeys through the woods. He speaks to me in ways I can understand.  

Yet God transforms how I see the world.  And God interrupts my own ideas, delusions, and confusions about life, and leads me to the ask the right questions.  Often times we get off course.  Often God will simply come to us and guide us back into the right direction.

It's important to remember in all this that God will never contradict His word.  The word of God is how we know God, understand God, and the primary way we hear from God.  In Christ, we have all things.  God shares Christ with us through His own word, and other ways he speaks to us, like dreams, should be considered secondary, and beneath the scriptures in authority. 

So, if you want to interact with God in this way, then I'd encourage you to pray and ask God to speak to you through dreams and visions. It doesn't necessarily mean that God will do this, but it is good to ask.  Ask, and we open ourselves to receive from God. In fact, it is mentioned by Saul in his request to Samuel that God would answer Saul through prophets, but also through dreams (1 Samuel 28:15). 

Now, perhaps God simply delights to commune with certain people in this way, like Joseph, Daniel, Job, and so on (Matthew 2:19, Genesis 37:19, Daniel 7). Indeed it says in Ecclesiastes 5:7, "Much dreaming and many words are meaningless, therefore fear God."

Perhaps our Lord does not often commune this way with most people. I honestly don't know for certain.  But what I can tell you is, spiritual dreams over my years of life have greatly impacted my life. Dreaming is a natural part of human life. And God works in all parts of our lives, even in dreams.

Let's look at some various kinds of dreams, and what they can mean:

A Reflection of the Present - People also calls these "stress dreams" but I think there's quite a bit more to it than that.  It's a dream that reflects our thoughts, emotions, and our current position in life. My mom often tells me she dreams of being at work as a nurse, and not being able to keep up with the work.  That's a typical stress dream.

Things of the Past - I dream regularly of three places from my very early life... from about ages 5-10.  I dream of my grandma's house, my aunt's house, and my parents old house.  Many, many dreams will bring up things from our past, and reflect them back to us. I'm not sure why, honestly.  Perhaps nostalgia, or a sincere love for those times that draws us back there.  I had a great childhood. 

Expression of your larger journey - I've noticed at times I will have dreams that reflect my larger journey through life.  I see myself on forest trails (I grew up in the woods) and I see myself walking along roads in the wilderness, or walking along water, and often these dreams are reflecting aspects of my life's progression.

Expression of Faith - A dream that expresses faith will often take place in ornate church buildings.  These dreams tend to express our spiritual explorations. I've at times seen myself in dreams, exploring beautiful catholic basilicas. 

Nightmare - Nightmares are of course terrifying imagery, from tornadoes to falling dreams, and other things as well. Can nightmares come from God?  Hard to say.  They are certainly disturbing though. 

Night terror - A night terror is when you can't be woken up. Often it means that you'll be screaming while your asleep.  And people can't wake you, like family and friends.  This is a scary experience for the family, but for the dreamer, they won't remember what they were dreaming usually.  Sometimes this can be connected to repressed memories. 

Demonic dreams - It's important to discern between a nightmare and a spiritually influenced dream.  I can tell the difference between a simple nightmare and a demonic dream from discerning the emotion of the dream.  If I'm seeing decidedly dark imagery that feels excessive, and it feels "evil" then I know I'm in a demonic dream.  The best thing to do is realize that your dreaming, and drop to your knees in the dream, close your eyes, and start praying, using the name of Jesus, to wake up. 

If that sounds spooky to you, I don't care. I've had dreams like this many, many times, and I've always found refuge in Christ during those times.  

God given prophecy - God will give you this sort of dream if He chooses to. We can ask for these gifts from God, but ultimately it is up to Him.  God delights in us, and we ought to delight in Him as well. I've experienced this phenomenon in my life, before and after becoming a Christian.  It's always a powerful experience.  Usually it's quite easy to tell that it was a special dream.  But one way to discern it further, is to pray, and to talk about it with a fellow Christian.  If they have the gift of discernment, they'll be able to tell you about it, or give you an interpretation.  

Are God-given dreams biblical? Yes they are. We see many examples of them in the scriptures, from Abimelek to Joseph the father of Jesus. Additionally, great Christian leaders throughout history attest to experiencing dreams and visions. To name a few: William Booth founder of the Salvation Army, Augustine and Justin Martyr leaders of the early church, John Newton the writer of "Amazing Grace" and many others.

Quickly, here are four things you should do to grow in this area of communications with God in the realm of dreams...

Write down your dreams - That is very important.  You'll want to write them down, and then reflect on them.  Usually right when you wake up, you'll want to write it down, so keep a notebook or journal by your bed, and simply write down your dreams. Pray as you write, and ask the Lord for clarity about the dream's meaning.

Learn to distinguish symbolism - Let's take an example from my dreams... I dreamt I was walking down a dark road, and I came to a bridge that was broken down. I knew I had to get across. But the water was deep, and there were broken power lines dipping into the water.  What are the symbols to distinguish?  

The road could represent the progression of my life.  The water could represent a perceived danger. The fallen bridge could symbolize what had seemed to be a clear path, now being more treacherous after a serious problem.  Unfortunately much of dream interpretation is guess work.  But when uncertain, request help from God.  

Breaching into the real world - Something rather interesting will happen as you examine your dreams more and more.  First of all, you'll begin to remember more of your dreams.  Second, you'll begin to see dream imagery in the real world.  You'll see something, and realize you've seen it prior in a dream.  Most experience this as deja' vu.  

Meditate on your dreams - I often think about my dreams.  They're often beautiful, mysterious, and emotionally mysterious.  I enjoy reflecting on them, and trying to understand them.  Often I will go for walks and simply think about things I've dreamed about.  The more you reflect on your dreams, the more you'll understand them. 

In conclusion, dreams are just another part of the beautiful universe God has created. Enjoy them, and explore them. And maybe someday soon you'll experience the power and glory of prophetic dreams.  God is good. Amen. 

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