That’s what my friend GeorgiaAna calls them. Maybe if we’re lucky we have a half-dozen of these dreams in a lifetime. They’re the dreams in which the Holy Spirit clearly speaks to us in the symbols and metaphors of Heaven–announcing changes for our life or showing us what’s missing in our life. Dreams which show us a path to take. Dreams parting the veil between earth and Heaven for an instant.
However, we know from the very prosaic dream research of the past 50 years that dreaming is mostly like a computer defragging our mental files. We are reprocessing stuff left over from the day. Sometimes its a type of problem solving and sometimes we’re trying to make sense out of our past. I mostly dream about a mobile home that I lived in when I was married. How depressing is that? It’s been many years since I read the great psychologist Carl Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections but I believe he felt that every dream was pregnant with meaning and worthy of interpretation. Today, most dream researchers would dispute that. I wish Jung could tell me about my crazy mobile home dreams. I can interpret other people’s dreams but not my own.
In the Bible dreams are usually about God warning people or providing a prophecy. In Joel 2:28 it says that in the last days the Lord will pour out his Spirit on all people, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
It certainly feels like we’re in the last days and I qualify in the “old men” dept. So let me tell you about a golden dream I had:
It was the Spring of 2002. My mother had been dead a little over a year and the grief was subsiding. But an emptiness remained. I felt despondent (my default setting) and like my life was going nowhere in a spiritual sense. I had taught a class on coping with depression at my church a few times and that brought me some satisfaction. But still there was a deep emptiness inside and a sense of my life being incomplete and in shambles. One evening in March I was sitting in my family room staring at the wall and I noticed a collage of family pictures that my mother had put together a decade earlier. I was studying the faces and suddenly I realized that other than myself and my mother’s cousin Margie (my Godmother) that every single person in the pictures were dead. Well, that set me off into a major pity party.
A couple weeks later I had this dream: I was on my morning walk and I was walking along very slowly. There were tears running down my cheek. After a while I started to walk a bit faster. I often start slow and gradually pick up the pace. I kept walking faster and faster. Eventually, I began a slow trot. The pace kept quickening. Soon, I was sprinting. I noticed that events from my life were whizzing past me in the periphery of my visual field–sort of like one’s life passing before them in a near-death experience. But I was having a near-life experience. I felt like I was outrunning every emotional problem, loss, or barrier that had ever held me back. They were all receding into the distance and my tears had stopped. I suddenly felt free. It seemed like I was running toward some golden light at the end of a path thru deep woods.
That dream gave me hope when I felt none. Unfortunately, about a month later I developed an infatuation for a lady that was doomed from the beginning. And I knew that. After two dinner dates and couple dozen emails she sent me a one word email “Goodbye” and stopped answering my emails. Nevertheless, I was crushed and the old emptiness returned–“Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to be with you again.” I slogged thru June and into July.
My step-son lives in California and for several years he had been urging me to come visit. The problem was I hadn’t been on an airplane in 33 years. It was not so much a fear of flying as a fear of loss of control. I said I believed in God, but obviously I didn’t much trust God. Nevertheless, I felt convicted in my brokeness to finally face my fear. After considerable agonizing and prayer I booked a flight for Aug. 5 to LAX.
As soon as I had made my decision the Holy Spirit began ministering to me. I received a letter from an old friend and mentor who told me of his fear of flying. I could scarcely believe that he had any phobias. He was someone I had always looked up to. He’s also a Christian psychologist, two years older than me and someone I had viewed as a paragon of strength. After all, he had flown to Australia a half-dozen times ministering to the Aborigines in the Outback. His letter helped– especially his admission that he finally accepted his powerlessness and handed his life over to God. Then a couple days before the flight, with my anxiety mounting, the H.S. did it again. I was in Books-A-Million browsing before going to the theater next door. My eye was captured by a book with an odd title: Ruthless Trust. It was by Brennan Manning, a Christian author unfamiliar to me at that time. I knew that book was meant especially for me and that night I began reading it. Within just a few pages I realized that my so-called “faith” was quite hollow. I had lived my life avoiding risks, and situations where I had no control terrified me.
Two points that Manning made that really stuck with me were; (1) Jesus died for our trust and trust is the only gift we can give back to Him, and (2) the equation: Faith + Hope = Trust. I didn’t trust God because with my chronic depression I really felt no Hope.
Long story short: The flight worked out wonderfully well. I had about 5 min of anxiety each way. I listened to Gospel music and Rachmaninoff on my Walkman–and I enjoyed flying above the clouds for the first time in many years. Well, in the ensuing 10 years I have flown to Europe four times, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Five of those trips were mission trips. I also flew to Texas for two weeks in Oct., 2005, volunteering for the Red Cross post Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I’ve been back to California six or seven times plus several flights to the midwest–somewhere around 18-20 flights total I would guess. I now look forward to flights–especially the rush on take-off; and when we hit a little turbulence I say, “Thank you God, here I come.” That usually freaks the person out in the seat next to me.
Well, the change in my self-confidence has allowed me to publish four books and has given me a ministry of sorts. The transformation all started when the Holy Spirit came crashing into my life in a golden dream. I didn’t know what it was about at the time, but it’s clear to me now. It just seemed like a dream that felt nice, but what it was was prophetic and restorative. The Holy Spirit was beginning to repair a lifetime of damage–giving me a hope that it could all be behind me some day. Ten years ago I never could have dreamed where the Lord has taken me.
And it seems to be happening again. After a prolonged spell of darkness in my life I have recently become convicted of what a negative, worldly, and cynical person I’ve become–backslider extraordinaire. A recent mission trip to Scotland and a book by Eugene Peterson on the parables of Jesus and a few Graham Cooke CDs have given me new golden dreams–but now they are waking dreams– Rhema, words from the Lord, my friend Pam calls them. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to come to me by night any longer.