I struggle to get off the ground, but finally I lift off and soar above my little town. I see my home below me, and I head toward school. Some of my friends look up and wave frantically. I know they are jealous, and I relish my superiority—until my lack of focus causes a rapid drop in altitude. I know what will happen next: I will hit the ground in humiliation, or I will wake myself up before I land in shame.
All my life I’ve been plagued by recurring dreams. Sometimes I know the moment I wake up that it wasn’t real. Other times I awaken devastated by horrific images in my brain, and for several minutes I mourn and try to plan what to do next, until finally reason kicks in, bringing relief.
One of my earliest recurring dreams from my childhood makes no sense at all. I am in the attic of my house. A martini glass fills itself with a Silly Putty-like semi-solid liquid. Then the substance overflows and fills the attic, trapping me under its weight. When it reaches a certain level, the glass rings like a bell, and I wake up. Why? Does it mean something? Why did I dream it over and over for years, until it became my most vivid childhood memory?
A dream from my adult life involves getting up early in the morning. I run in semi-darkness through my childhood hometown, several miles to the church and school I attended, and home again. It’s hard to begin running—my feet won’t move without great effort, but suddenly I lunge forward, light on my feet. I ran regularly in my early 30s, but only a daily mile. I tried running again in my 50s, but had to stop due to arthritis. I don’t know why I’ve been dreaming this the last few years, but for a while I believed it was actually happening, and I felt virtuous about running all those miles.
The worst recurring dream I ever had was before I resigned from my last job. I was on the freeway, and my car was going very fast—in reverse. The brake wouldn’t respond to my pressure on the pedal. I tried to turn the ignition off—but I couldn’t find the key, because I was watching the traffic over my shoulder, wrenching the steering wheel from side to side to evade the other cars I was hurtling toward. I woke up with my heart pounding, but it would take time for my panic to dissipate. Sometimes I could not get back to sleep.
Until I finally interpreted the dream.
My last few years teaching were incredibly stressful. Education is undergoing a paradigm shift. Concerns of teachers are ignored in favor of the accountability proposals of legislators. In Arizona, already with the lowest per-pupil funding in the nation, demands for better results coincided with further funding cuts. I vowed I wouldn’t use this blog to rant about lawmakers ruining education. Suffice it to say, I was trying so hard to do a good job at work, but it was never enough. Too many obstacles stood in my way–mandated changes in what I taught and how I taught, and a lack of supplies. My life was out of my control, and there was nothing I could do about it. When I recognized what my subconscious (or God) was trying to tell me, the terrifying speeding backward dreams stopped.
So, was my dream orchestrated my subconscious, that mysteriously perceptive functioning of the brain? Or was it truly a message from God?
The Bible is full of stories about God speaking to individuals in dreams. Joseph in the Old Testament had vivid dreams, and the gift of dream interpretation. Joseph in the New Testament also heard from God in dreams. When God describes the Day of the Lord, he says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (See Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17.) Clearly, dreams merit attention.
Not that all dreams come from God. I think that most, like the first three I mentioned, are just random images that the brain plays with while we’re sleeping. But certainly God can use dreams as an avenue of communication.
Have you ever had a disturbing dream? Have you ever had insight into one of your dreams? Have you ever felt that God was telling you something with a dream? Please share by commenting below.