How God uses dreams like a mirror to change our thinking, transform our character, and work around our blind spots.
The bible has often been compared to a mirror, which God uses to reflect our lives and transform us into the people we were created to be.
But did you know that God uses dreams in the same way?
This article draws on a bible story plus a real dream example to illustrate how this works in practice.
I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.
If you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and my 3 step dream interpretation method to give you a foundation.
- Life is a transformation process
- The example of Nathan and King David
- An example of a real dream
Life is a transformation process
The bible tells us that our life is a work in progress and, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to constantly allow God to renew our character and thinking as we grow in maturity. Our goal is to become conformed to Christ – and the image He had in mind when He created us!
- Romans 12:3, NASB And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
- Ephesians 4:15, NASB …we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ.
A big part of that process is correcting any faulty thinking that we have adopted from our upbringing, culture, and life experiences. But the trouble is, it’s virtually impossible to see these things in ourselves. Neither can we see all our character flaws – they just seem normal to us.
I have so often thought I was right and turned out to be wrong. I have been convinced my ideas were correct, only to find I was way off-track. The harsh truth is this: I am often my own worst enemy when it comes to understanding life, and this can hinder me from hearing God’s voice. I have a blind side!
Jesus referred to this when he likened it to having a plank or log in our eye:
- Matthew 7:5, NASB You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye!
How can we overcome this challenge? The answer is simple: We need someone who is kind enough to lovingly point these things out!
We need someone kind enough to lovingly point out our blind spots!
The good news is that our God and Creator is kind enough! He has our best interests at heart – and He loves us enough to help us in this process. As well as using the people around us, He has provided some other tools to reveal these things to us.
The bible is like a mirror
Those of you, like me, who have been a Christian for some time, will know that the bible is a great tool for revealing wrong thinking and character flaws.
James, in his letter, compares the word of God to a mirror; he says that when we look in it, we can see what kind of person we are! His point is that we should take appropriate action – and not immediately forget what we see!
This reflection of us can happen through the direct teaching and revelation that the bible contains, or through the many good and bad examples. God has a way of bringing the right passage to our attention just when we need a nudge to change!
- James 1:23-24, NASB For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory
Dreams are like a mirror
You are probably already familiar with the bible as a mirror, but did you know that dreams can achieve the same result – and at a deeply personal and specific level?
Dreams can also act like a mirror and reveal our blind spots.
Have you ever wondered why God speaks to us though dreams which need interpreting, rather than by more direct methods? One reason is that God is using them to work around our blind spots!
Sometimes I puzzle over dreams for days before I understand what He is trying to say. At times I get weary and wish things could be a little easier! However, I have gradually come to appreciate this process, because God uses it to help me see past myself and show me His perspective.
The reason interpreting dreams can be a struggle and takes time is because God is shifting our thinking! It can take a while for us to see ourselves in the illustration and make that shift!
The example of Nathan and King David
One of my favourite biblical illustrations of how God addresses our blind spots can be found in 2 Samuel 12. For those who don’t know the story, this is my summary of the background:
One spring, while his men went off to war, King David remained in Jerusalem. While he was there, he looked out from his palace and saw a beautiful woman called Bathsheba bathing, and he ended up sleeping with her.
Bathsheba then found out that she was pregnant. So, after various plans to get her husband to come back home – and failing, David then sent him to the front line to be killed in battle – and he was. After that David took Bathsheba to be his wife and she gave birth to a son.
In response to this, God gave Nathan the prophet a word for David, which came in the form of a parable. A parable is a short story or illustration which reflects a real-life situation.
The parable of the man with a lamb
Here is the parable that Nathan told David. It is important to remember that, at this stage, David didn’t know it was an illustration. Nathan presented it to David as though it was a real situation that needed David’s response. David thought it was about someone else.
Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said,2 Samuel 12:1-3. NASB
“There were two men in a city, the one wealthy and the other poor. The wealthy man had a great many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nurtured; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat scraps from him and drink from his cup and lie in his lap, and was like a daughter to him.
Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
When David heard this story, we learn that he was indignant. The bible says that he ‘burned with anger’ and demanded restitution for the man who had been wronged.
He replied to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this certainly deserves to die! So he must make restitution for the lamb four times over, since he did this thing and had no compassion.” (1 Samuel 12:5-6. NASB).
The interpretation of the parable
Now comes the punchline: Nathan reveals that King David himself is the rich man in the story! This parable is really a reflection of David’s own life, and David has judged himself and found himself wanting. Here is the explanation and interpretation of the parable:
Nathan then said to David, “You yourself are the man!“
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘It is I who anointed you as king over Israel, and it is I who rescued you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and put your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!’“2 Samuel 12:7-10, NASB
“Why have you despised the word of the Lord, by doing evil in His sight? You have struck and killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, you have taken his wife as your wife, and you have slaughtered him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.”
Ouch! I can only imagine how horror-stricken David must have been when he understood the message. It’s hard to comprehend how he hadn’t realised what he had done until that moment, but, somehow, he had managed to turn a blind eye to his own sin and did not see it.
Somehow, David had managed to turn a blind eye to his own sin and did not see it.
But isn’t that what we do ourselves? Don’t we often turn a blind eye to our own faults? Sometimes we genuinely can’t see them – and we need someone else to enlighten us.
David was able to repent and change
The moment of change came in verse 13, when David responded to Nathan saying, “I have sinned against the Lord”.
Psalm 51 was written at this time, and is a beautiful expression of David’s repentance. Here are the first few lines:
- Psalm 51:1-2. NIV “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
And this, I think, is the whole point! Once David realised what God was showing him, he was able to make a better response – rather than continuing in his own failings. He was able to repent and shift his thinking.
Sadly, the child went on to die, but David and Bathsheba had another son called Solomon who became King, and Jesus was eventually born from their generational line. I love this – because this shows redemption in operation.
Moreover, in the same way, when God reveals things to us through His word, we are also able to change our thinking, repent, and and submit to God; then He sets us free from the past, gives us a clean start, and brings transformation in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
An example of a real dream
I mentioned that God can use dreams in a similar way, to reveal our blind spots. The reason this works so well is that dreams are like parables; they are illustrations that reflect areas of our life – just like the one that Nathan told King David.
Dreams are symbolic – just like the parable Nathan told King David.
I will illustrate this process with an example of how God used a dream to show me one of my blind spots:
The dream: An alligator escapes
I dreamed that I was visiting my cousin Danny’s house. He had an alligator locked up in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It escaped and attacked a deer that was in the garden. I had to call Danny to help me get it back into confinement – and felt cross that he shouldn’t have let it escape.
At first glance, this dream might appear to be about my cousin Danny – because it was his alligator that escaped. On waking, I felt justified in feeling cross with him in the dream; he should have been more careful after all! I felt cross with Danny, just like David felt cross with that man.
But let us consider a couple of symbols in the dream:
- Danny’s house: Danny comes from the name Daniel, who was a well-known prophet in the bible, and that’s what he normally represents in my dreams. So, this dream was set in the context of its intended purpose of speaking out words of encouragement.
- The alligator: An alligator has a big mouth with lots of teeth, so in dreams it usually represents being attacked through words, for example with criticism or gossip. In fact, it is the exact opposite of the intended purpose of prophecy!
The interpretation of the dream
And then, just as the truth hit David, so the hard truth hit me: Cousin Danny was reflecting my own actions. I thought the dream was about someone else, but in fact I was the one who was letting my words get out of control and being critical of others, instead of building them up
My interpretation was something like this (written as though from God):
“Your words have a big impact on others, more than you realise, and you have been carelessly using them in a critical way recently. Let’s get them back under control and start using your words for good as I intended.”
Of course, just like King David, I repented. I started being more careful about what I was saying to people around me! That dream has always stayed with me, and whenever I dream about alligators, I always check to see how I am using my words. I don’t want to have to face correction like that again, even I know that God is kind!
There is a similar message in James 3:1-12 regarding ‘taming the tongue’ and keeping our words under control. This is encouraging, as it is good to check out dream interpretations against biblical principles. God could have used that passage to speak to me – but He chose to use a dream. There is nothing quite like a personal correction from God!
There is nothing quite like a personal correction from God.
We can see from this illustration how God used my dream to help me see something I wasn’t aware I was doing. He did this in the same way that He used a parable to overcome King David’s blind spot.
Dreams can help us repent and change
I have been interpreting dreams for more than 15 years in the light of my relationship with God – and have had many similar experiences to the one I just described.
I find my mind gets in the way of me hearing God’s voice: I jump to conclusions. I rationalise away what my spirit is trying to tell me, and I am very good at overlooking my own stumbling blocks.
I have found that dreams are God’s way of getting around those things. I settle down for a sleep, my mind switches off, and then God gives me a dream that changes everything! God is sneaky like that – but it is so helpful! Blessings come from understanding the message and taking appropriate action.
- James 1:25, TPT But those who… respond to the truth they hear… experience blessing in all they do.
As a result, I have learnt that it is always worth considering whether a dream could be reflecting an area of our own life – even when it initially appears to be about someone else. Let’s not miss out on the potential for personal insight and transformation.
We have seen that transformation of our character and thoughts is an ongoing process – and a normal part of following Jesus Christ.
However, this process is not possible unless someone is able to show us our blind spots! We have seen how God can use other people to do this, but He can also do it directly Himself through the bible and dreams.
We have seen from a real example how dreams are a powerful tool that He can use for this purpose if we are prepared to take notice of them. He uses them like a mirror – in the same way that He used a story with King David.
I have learnt that even when a dream appears to be about someone else, it is always worth considering whether it could be reflecting an area of our own life – and then responding with action!
And finally… I love the fact that God uses dreams in this way; I love how our Heavenly Father cares enough to intervene. He doesn’t leave us in our own mess; He lovingly corrects us and helps us become increasingly more like the people we were created to be.
So, let’s make sure we pay attention to those nightly illustrations from heaven, and take action according to what we see!
I hope you have found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to my emails below to receive regular dream interpretation tips.
The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey with God. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.
It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.
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