I’ve never really written about this but thought it was sort of a good thing to bandy about…
I’ve always been interested in dreams. Even before I ever really thought they were something that God might communicate through, even before I ever had lots of personal contact with God at all, I was very affected and directed by my dreams. I acted on them all the time. I wrote them down in painstaking detail. I always felt that my dream life seemed more real than my real life, because they seemed to happen on such full blast—every part of me felt in and surrounded by the dream—mind, body, heart. The ability to watch something and yet participate in it at the same time, as if both a transcendant narrator and also the principal character, never happens in real life but often happens in dream. This always felt to me like a more holistic experience of who we are—in dreams my mind’s ability to synthesize and understand things seem to happen faster than in real life as a result of this sort of being in two or three places at the same time.
However, because they seemed so real, I would act on the slightest feeling I encountered in dream. Later, I started to understand that dreams have lots of ways of processing our experiences, good and bad. Over time, I’ve applied a lot more discernment to my dreams, especially in the last year. If I ever have a dream that feels like it is a message or communication from God, I always ask Him first, ‘Is this from you?” before I go off and explore it emotionally, and then I ask for an interpretation.
I think the interpretation part is important. Lots of times I think we go for revelations–whether it’s just a straight-up word of knowledge, prophecy, or we speak in tongues or have a strange dream—and we think that we have to be in the dark around the interpretation of these things. I always thought this, that it was good to just wait around… maybe it was because I didn’t want to put God in a box, didn’t want to wash off the mystery, didn’t want to ask Him for interpretation.
My friend Walt once handed down a teaching on prophecy to me when I was first asking for more of a supernatural relationship with God, and I think it’s an important teaching. In prophecy there is always revelation, interpretation, and application. They are all important in the gathering of His voice into our lives. It’s not only okay, it’s needed that we ask for all three. Sometimes He will give the revelation to us and the interpretation to someone else, so that we can find him together… we all need each other and He made it that way. But it’s certainly okay to wrestle Him for your own interpretation. He digs it when we ask.
Anyway, so back to dreams. Ask for interpretations… dreams are a mystery, but not some cosmic unknowable thing. I constantly hear people in public talking about their dreams—lots of times horrifying dreams where nightmarish things are happening to them—as an art form. We actually crave to know the meaning of these things… otherwise we might get caught up in the more horrifying ones without realizing that we are nothing like the things that happen in our dreams.
For example—and the thing that sort of prompted me to write this—two nights ago I had a really frightening dream where I watched someone I love very very much have a seizure from a heroin overdose. It was a slow and painful thing, and no one seemed to know what what happening… or know what to do about it. Because this person in particular has a very special place in my heart, and because the dream seemed so real, I woke up crying. In fact, it took me about a half an hour to convince myself that I had been dreaming.
Now I won’t go into the details of the dream, because I knew immediately when I “came to” that the dream was dark and not only not a “God dream” but not even something I had for dinner the night before. It was just like a page from the “book of amy’s fears.” I have learned that whenever I have dreams like this—dreams that are fear-based—they are never, never God’s. He does not communicate to us through fear or guilt–ever. Although there may be an element of truth to the dream–as in my case, I have often feared over this person’s well-being–such a kind of omen is not the way my Papa works. I know this. So I think that if we have a dream where there is a heavy fear element, we should first examine if the fear does not live in us first and so darkness is having a place to magnetize itself.
The other untrustworthy place in dreams is sexuality. Often times in dreams sexual desire towards or sexual feelings have something to do with our desires for intimacy, but if the dream has an element of darkness in it, we might wake up feeling guilty. God is never the source of guilt, either. We should be careful if we wake up feeling scared of horrible about something—if a dream has convinced us that something is amiss. Sometimes the best way to wash off the slime is just to soak in reading Scripture—cuz as we all know sometimes our feelings might be so loud we are having a hard time listening to His fresh goodwill toward us. Sometimes it’s from a film. Sometimes it’s from the city we’re in. Sometimes it’s from something we are dealing with… and sometimes, someone said, it’s the pizza you had the night before.
Now the best part is when dreams come from Him. They are something else! Sometimes he is showing us something that needs to clear, or something that is going to happen… oh, there are so many ways he communicates in dreams… and that’s a whole book or two. The current place we are living was first revealed to us in a dream. I had never thought of it before, or visited it, but in the dream I felt as if I knew it so closely, and loved it and all the people who dwelled in it… I also heard a clear and loving voice in the dream telling us that we would visit this city at some point… I woke up with such a tangible feeling of His presence I knew it was His dream. But I have to say that, personally, dreams are by far my favorite way of receiving truth and love and revelation from Him. Go for it, ask Him for dreams. They are a gift and He likes when we ask for His gifts. He promised us that dreams would be one of the Spirit-pourings on His people.