Dreams are intriguing events. There is a lot of speculation about how and why we dream, have nightmares, experience night terrors, and feel the strong emotions we do, when we dream. Some people, like my wife, dream often – almost nightly. Others, like myself, rarely recall any dreams at all. And perhaps that is why when I dream, the dreams seem more vivid and tend to stay with me throughout the day.
Southeast Asia Nightmares
As we wrapped up 2013 and entered 2014 ministering in Cambodia, I began to experience horrific, terrifying nightmares. The images were hideous and awful, my physical reactions were strong: hyperventilating, increased heart-rate, sweating and awaking with a start, sometimes crying out verbally. There were themes to the nightmares. These nightmares returned with us to the States, except in our case, they transferred to my wife. Awful dreams, reactions filled with terror and then: sleepless nights. We are positive that these were / are some sort of demonic oppression and attack. Our reactions, even days after the event, tended to be centered on fear, discouragement and trepidation. Sometimes the dreams were focused on us, other times on our friends who also are working hard for the Kingdom around the world.
Dreams of Another Sort
Two nights ago I, again, had a frightening dream. The scenes were filled with chaos, danger, and would lead to eventual death. These dreams seemed to focus on my wife & I, and I cannot recall if anyone else was with us. These scenarios repeated about 6-8 times total, each with a different means to the end: death. And, yet, the dream did not end with death itself. After each scenario, we would be “on the other side” of the horrific event, and there was a tremendous sense of peace and tranquility. As we faced each scenario, each one inescapable and fright-filled, I recall thinking, “This is going to hurt”, “I’m going to die here”, etc. Each and every time, for the entirety of the dream, same thoughts, same reactions, same ending: peace.
What Do I Do With It All?
I don’t know how to interpret dreams. I can’t say if the dreams “mean anything” because the next dream I recall was about Bella, our Australian Shepherd, that we had to give up when we left for SEA. I do know this: the dreams were real, and just like any other event or experience, they can be examined and thought through. Both this recent dream and the nightmares we shared had their moments of terror. One yielded emotions of fear, dread and discouragement, and the latest resulted with peace, tranquility and an overwhelming sense of “it’s going to be okay”.
Satan thrives on fear and doubt. Fear and doubt will be hidden in the recesses of whatever it is that gets you to quit on whatever it is that God has for you. It’s been that way since the beginning of human existence: (see Adam & Eve). The God I follow is described by such words as “God of peace”, and “hope”, and giving his children “joy”, and “contentment”. It is not hard for me to distinguish between the two. Even though both, this most recent dream and our series of nightmares, contained frightening images, one left us fearful and filled with dread – the other a sense of peace in the middle of turmoil and certain hardship and death.
I don’t need a dream to reinforce my heart and soul that we will face hardship in this life. And I don’t need a dream to inform me that “it will be okay” and that we’ll make it through to “the other side”. But I will take from my Creator, the fashion designer of every cell and molecule within me, the realization from these dreams (all under the control of his sovereign hand), that he is with me, will never leave me, nor will he forsake me. If oppressed, it is only upon his granting Satan the ability to do so. (See Job, Peter, etc). If to encourage and motivate, it is always for his glory and my good.
I do believe that we may be facing extreme hardship. I have seen opposition in and from sources that I wouldn’t have imagined before. I see around me: brothers and sisters in Christ, around the world, facing incredible difficulties, persecution and death. And I confidently take into today…and every day…this peace he has granted, a quietness of heart and a boldness that comes from knowing that I am a child of The King, an heir to his eternal promise, and nothing will ever separate me from his love.
Postscript: A Passage from a Recent Day’s Devotion:
From the prophet, Isaiah:
“Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.”