Resource Sheet 11 - Dreams - Are they God's Messengers?
Carol, a friend of ours, sent us a transcript of a beautiful dream that God gave her one night. Carol is serving a life sentence and despite having become a Christian in prison was still unable to forgive herself and let go of her past. On this particular day she felt desperate for some quiet, but the endless prison noises hounded her. In the end she fell asleep as she sat on her bed, and began to dream.
In the dream she was on a mountain top in a violent storm. As she cried out to God to help her she saw a light in a hut. She was about to enter when she realised someone was inside and as she gazed became aware that it was Jesus. She turned away knowing she could not possibly be with him.
To quote her own words:
I heard a voice so full of love say, 'Carol, come in out of the rain, can't you see the door is open?' I turned back and all the fear disappeared as He smiled just for me and beckoned me in. Inside it was so calm and peaceful, nothing but the gentle crackling of logs on the fire. I couldn't look at Him but I sat in front of the fire and just kept my eyes on the floor. 'Look at me, Carol,' He said. Then I lifted my head and looked into His eyes. They searched the deepest corners of my heart, they could see everything I had ever done and also the very thing I had been asking Him to forgive. I found they were not only searching, but shining, not because my sins did not matter but shining with compassion that went beyond what I had done and saw the desire I had to serve Him.
The storm over, Jesus accompanied Carol down the mountain then turned back. At first Carol was devastated at the thought of losing Him then came to the realisation that:
I can never really be parted from Him. Something wonderful has happened . . . He is right here inside of me. It is as though my heart is that building and I have gained Him forever. There are no words to describe how I feel. I am not just me any more. I am free. I feel so full of joy, all I want is to show everyone my love for Jesus. Inside my heart is a peace I have never had and a strength that can push away the worst storm. Nothing can destroy them.
On waking and returning to the reality of prison life, Carol wrote: 'Just a dream maybe it was but not the Presence that is so real still here as I write.'
Marilyn and I both wept as we read this. We had been corresponding with Carol for a long time trying to show her that she was forgiven. But God knew, in His mercy, that Carol needed more than words. This dream, full of such powerful pictorial images of the love of Jesus, destroyed the tormenting images of her past and released her to know the joy of her forgiveness.
Dreams and visions are similar in that they are moving pictures expressing truths about our lives or the things of God or something that is about to happen. The difference between them is that we have a vision when we are awake and conscious, but when we have a dream we are asleep. I used to feel that because we are asleep it would be impossible to know if it is from God, or just a normal dream, or even from the devil?
Although I am not very experienced in this area I have come to believe that, even though in many ways dreams are out of our control, there are things we can do to help influence our dreams for the good. I remember once, I was about to go to bed at the end of a tiring day. I had had a bad argument with a friend that afternoon and as I went to sleep I was still going over and over what had happened. Suddenly a thought seemed to break into the turmoil: 'Don't go to sleep angry because it will affect your dreams and make you vulnerable to the evil one. You will wake up heavy and tired but if you forgive your friend and allow me to forgive you then you will goto sleep at peace, your dreams will be blessed and you will wake up refreshed.'
I was amazed by this thought and suddenly realised that it tallied with the verse in Ephesians, 'Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry' (Eph. 4:26).
I asked God to forgive me and handed over to Him everything that had happened. I did sleep well that night and although my dreams weren't anything out of the ordinary, neither were they oppressive and distressing like they usually were after a difficult day. When I woke up I felt refreshed and much more on top spiritually.
I told Marilyn and she too began to notice a difference in her quality of sleep. Since that time I have experienced more dreams that I believe come from God and have had more of a clear sense when the devil has been trying to attack me through a dream. I have also found that there are many passages in the psalms that refer to God watching over us as we sleep and I now try to consciously thank the Lord for that and rest anything that is worrying me in His hands before I go to sleep.