Do you love movies? I do. I love being swept away into an imaginary world, even if it is just for a few hours.
In this series, we are discovering some good reasons to pay attention to our night dreams.
This article explores how dreams, just like movies, can take us beyond our natural life to a place filled with adventure, intrigue, and a wealth of heavenly insight!
The wonders of imagination
I have a vivid imagination. As a child I used to sit for hours, daydreaming, making up stories and acting them out in my mind.
We all know that children tend to have a vivid imagination. This is encouraged through imaginary play, through drawing, craft, building blocks, dolls and action figures… the list goes on. But as adults, having a vivid imagination is sometimes frowned upon by western culture, as though we should somehow have just ‘gotten over it’ by now!
But I suggest that we would be much poorer without it! Visual images, stories and illustrations are very much part of our lives – you just have to look at social media to see that! Without the imagination of artists and creative types, we would not have all the wonderful books, films, music, pictures, etc. that we can enjoy today.
Dreams are like movies!
This brings me to this second reason that I love dreams. I love the fact that dreams are not just pictures, they are movies, and ones that we are personally involved in. They take us to new places beyond the realm of our natural lives. They allow us to fully engage the scenes with our mind and emotions.
If, like me, you have ever woken up in a sweat in the middle of the night because of a scary dream, or conversely, not wanted to leave behind a beautiful scene because it felt so peaceful, then you know what I mean!
I humbly suggest that our imagination is a gift from God, and that He loves to fill it with pictures and thoughts to communicate with us; moreover, when we are asleep, He fills our imagination with wonderful scenes and images to help us navigate life. This has been my experience anyway.
Has God always used visual images?
Abram (better known as Abraham) is one of the well-known characters in the bible, and also one of the early ones, living around 2000BC.
In Genesis 15:5, God wanted to communicate to Abram how much he was going to be blessed, and how many descendants he would have in the future (even though he didn’t have any children at that time).
In order to make this point, God told Abram to look up at the stars. Of course there were far too many to count! The point was, that neither would it be possible to count Abram’s descendants, as God was going to give him so many.
And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:5-6
Can you picture the scene? I bet that when you read that verse, you saw in your mind’s eye Abram going outside and looking at the stars! That’s the power of imagination!
What a wonderful image it would have been for Abram. Whenever he felt discouraged, he could remember the stars (or look at them if it was a clear night) and be encouraged. No wonder he was able to become one of the great heroes of faith. What an incredible gift God gave Him! When God speaks to in a vivid way like that, it surely does inspire faith.
So how did God speak to Abram?
Do you sometimes wonder how God spoke to Abram? The bible tells us that God appeared to Abram in a vision. God still speaks through visions today – I personally know people who have encountered God like that.
In this chapter we read that in the evening of that same day, God spoke to Abram again and gave him a prophecy about his own life and his descendants:
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. Then God said to Abram… Genesis 15:12
Did you notice it? God spoke to Abram while he was asleep! It doesn’t actually say that he was dreaming, but if Abram was asleep, it sounds pretty much like a God-encounter within a dream to me!
Can we encounter God like Abram did?
Well, the good news is, that even if we’re not used to having visions, we DO all dream! (I covered that in the previous article: Everybody dreams). Therefore, we can all potentially have the same experience as Abram did! The opportunity is open to all who will take their dreams seriously.
I have found that God doesn’t require more of us than we can manage. He understands our humanity and our weaknesses. So He loves to encourage us like He did for Abram. He loves to help us by giving us promises to hold on to and illustrations that will cause our faith to grow.
Some reasons why dreams are so powerful
1. They engage our emotions
I bet that you have sometimes been relieved upon waking, to realise that a dream was… well… just a dream! They can feel so very real. The 3D-emotional experience catches our attention and communicates at a very deep level.
2. They produce faith
I have found that God doesn’t require more of us than we can manage. He understands our humanity and our weaknesses. So He loves to encourage us like He did for Abram. When we have a vivid dream (and understand the meaning) it inspires faith.
3. They quickly communicate complex messages
Sometimes in a dream we can understand the message in an instant, with no need for complicated explanations.
Dreams provide a wealth of insight as we pray over the images and ponder the messages they contain, so much more than a few words could ever convey. For example, seeing an open door in front of us speaks of an opportunity to enter into something new. But what kind of doorway is it? What can you see beyond? Is it inviting or scary? How do you feel about going through it?
A real dream example
I had this dream when I had just started learning to interpret dreams.
Dream: Danielle Street
I dreamed I went to a conference where John Paul Jackson was speaking. Afterwards I came out of the front of the building.
I was walking along a road with a sign saying ‘Danielle Street’. There was a river, and also a canal running along the road: I was walking between them.
I could also see a hill with a castle on it in the distance. The dream was lovely, sunny and bright.
Some of the symbols explained
John Paul Jackson: I took his training course in Understanding Dreams and Visions, so this conference represented me learning to understand dreams. The front of a building represents the future, so as I came out of the front of the conference, it was telling me what would happen as a result of my training.
Danielle Street: I immediately understood this to me a female form of the name Daniel: a reference to one of the great dream interpreters in the bible! So this dream was about me walking in a similar path to Daniel, with respect to dreams.
The river and the canal: A river is usually the flow of the Holy Spirit. In contrast, a canal is a man-made channel. So understanding dreams would help me walk a path between heaven and earth: bridging the natural and the supernatural realms.
The castle on the hill: It is only now, years later, that I have understood this. A castle represents a stronghold: a big challenge to overcome. A hill is a place where you can be seen. (Jesus said that a city on a hill cannot be hidden in Matthew 5:14). So I would have to face my biggest fear: being seen by other people. And this is what I have overcome this year, as I have started writing this blog!
Learning to understand my dreams would lead me on a path similar to Daniel in the bible. This would help me bridge the gap between the spiritual realm and the natural life. Ultimately I would be called to overcome my fear of being seen on social media, to share what I had learned with other people.
As you can imagine, this wonderful, bright, encouraging dream gave me the motivation I needed to persevere with my dreams, even during the frustrating and difficult times.
Dreams provide a wealth of insight: as we pray over the images, and ponder the messages they contain, we glean so much more than a few words could ever convey.
I encourage you to think of your imagination as a gift. Why not dedicate it to God, for Him to use to communicate to you right now?
Prepare to receive wonderful truths – from His heart to yours – as you sleep. Expect heavenly encounters, answer to problems, guidance and promises to hold onto… plus much more!
And most of all, enjoy the fun of those Technicolor-dream-coat style night-time movies!
“I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain,Lyrics from ‘Any Dream Will Do.’ Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
To see for certain what I thought I knew”
- Where do I start when I have lots of dreams to interpret?
- Dream interpretation and the bible: Greek and Hebrew thinking
- Dream symbols: Rivers, seas, lakes and water – and what they mean
- Meeting Jesus in your dreams
- Engaging heaven in your dreams