Like many other people, I dream each night but am rarely able to remember them all. Strangely enough, this Langstaff letter came out of a time I was half asleep, and I started to map out a letter on dreaming. So let us look at dreams.
FACTS ABOUT DREAMS
Here are some interesting facts about dreams.
- Most people spend an average of 25 years sleeping unless they have problems sleeping.
- Most dreams are soon forgotten, half of them within 5mins of waking.
- Men and women dream differently. Men generally have more violent and aggressive dreams.
- We only dream about people we have seen or who we have met.
- Fear is not the most common emotion aroused by dreaming. Instead, it is usually sadness, anxiety, or guilt.
- Most of our dreams include events over the last day or two.
- Google was invented in a dream.
- Cats spend two-thirds of their lives asleep.
DREAMS IN THE BIBLE
Dreams were quite common in the Bible, and it was considered one of the ways that God communicated with people. Here are some examples.
Dreams in the Old Testament
- Joseph and his dreams of greatness, including the sheaves of wheat and the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 37).
- Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dreams regarding the coming famine (Genesis 41).
- King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and Daniel’s interpretation of them (Daniel 2&4).
- Solomon’s dreams (1 Kings 3:5-7).
Dreams in the New Testament
- Joseph’s dream about marrying Mary and the coming of the Christ child (Matthew 1:20-29).
- Joseph’s dream about going to Egypt (Matthew 2:13) and then returning from Egypt (Matthew 2:19).
- Paul’s vision in the night (probably a dream) and the Macedonia call (Acts 16:9).
- Acts 2 (NKJV) declares, “Your old men shall dream dreams.”
However, it does not seem that dreams were the primary or regular way God spoke to most people in Biblical days.
There are many theories about interpreting dreams, but there are several key ways to keep in mind. Let me set it in the context of a story about a famous author. Catherine Marshall (the author of “A Man Called Peter” and many other books) had some vivid dreams. She sought out the help of Reverend Morton Kelsey, a professor at Notre Dame University, who was well known for his interpretation of dreams. This was some of his advice.
“The first thing to be done,” Kelsey told her, “is to ask Jesus Christ for His power, direction, and protection.” Then he gave her some general guidelines for interpreting dreams:
- Most dream material refers to the dreamer, not the one being dreamed about.
- The process of dreaming is in itself therapeutic.
- One of the greatest dangers in dream interpretation is thinking you’re getting guidance for someone else.
- When one dreams about a mate, it usually means what one is “married to” emotionally and spiritually.
Also, the general procedure for interpreting dreams:
- Write down your dreams as soon as you awaken.
- Write down any major events going on in your life at the time, including any fears or worries.
- The more you take your dreams seriously, the more you will remember them.
- Talk about your dreams with a trusted friend.
- Study symbolism, analogies, and images in the Bible.
- Pray about the dreams and ask God for the interpretation (McReynolds 116).
This is all good advice regarding understanding and interpreting dreams. As for me, I have always felt that two of the most important keys to interpreting dreams are:
- The dream is most likely about the one dreaming.
- It is most likely symbolic and not literal.
For example, a long time ago, I had a dream about being in a rowing boat on the Pacific Ocean and landing on the shore of California. From California, I began a journey across the nation until I arrived at the Atlantic Ocean. Without going into all this means, let me note that it was about me and not someone else and that it was symbolic, not literal. If I had taken the dream literally, bearing in mind I was living in Australia at the time, I would have gone out, obtained a rowboat, and began rowing across the Pacific Ocean to California. If I had done that, I would not be able to write this letter. So, The dream was symbolic, not literal.
Dreams may be one of the ways God speaks to us but do not rush off too quickly to discover the interpretation of a dream.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
Here is a short report from the missionary organization Aims
“Weeks before our team of missionaries visited a neighboring village a Muslim convert from the village saw Christ in a vision. In his dream, he was instructed to host us and “make his premises available for all visits. After our very first visit, a church was planted in the Muslim convert’s home” (aims.org).
One of the exciting things happening today in terms of evangelism is taking place in Muslim Middle Eastern countries. In many recorded cases, it involved people having dreams about Jesus and then seeking to find out what it was all about. Consequently, they came to saving faith in Jesus. So, God is still using dreams to bring people to Himself today.
McReynolds, K. (1999). In Catherine Marshall. Bethany House Publishers.