Does God talk to us while we are asleep? John Buckeridge didn’t think so...
When Andrea, who was leading my small group, announced the theme of the evening I groaned on the inside. I was shattered after a tiring day at work and the temptation to stay at home curled up on the sofa watching football had been strong. But I’d resisted and turned up – only to be told by the usually sane and wise Andrea that tonight we would be learning about…‘dreams and their interpretation’.
For the next 90 minutes I glowered in the corner. Sure, I knew about the Bible stories where God spoke to people in dreams, but come on. I figured the only dreams I’d ever had (and they were rare) were random nonsense. So apart from a few sarcastic comments I maintained a moody silence.
I sighed with relief as Andrea invited us to close our eyes and join in a closing prayer. It was then that I felt God give me a massive dig about my attitude. After saying ‘sorry’ to God, I felt I needed to invite the Holy Spirit to give me a dream that night. I left an open pad of paper and a pen on my bedside table, as a sort of sign of faith. That said, I felt sure nothing would happen.
At 5am, 90 minutes ahead of my alarm, I woke with a start, having just had the most startling and vivid dream of my life. Trying not to wake my wife, I scribbled the details down then laid back down thinking, ‘I’m so awake now…I’ll never get back to sleep.’ But I did. I woke feeling refreshed when the alarm went off.
I prayed and sensed God telling me what the dream meant – I wrote that down too – it was too precious to trust my flaky memory. That night I phoned Andrea to apologise for my attitude and to tell her what happened. She chuckled, accepted my apology, didn’t try to interpret the dream, but instead said she was genuinely pleased that God had spoken to me.
Since that night in April 2008 I am more open to hearing from God in this way. I’m telling you about this part of my faith journey in the hope you will read the feature on dreams (page 22) with a more open mind than I had when I first heard teaching on the topic.
In our frantic culture many people have few, if any, interludes for silence, contemplation, listening or just ‘being’ in the presence of God. Perhaps sleep may become a more significant context for the Holy Spirit to speak to Christians and non-Christian seekers alike. Given the tendency of some of us to jump onto any new ‘spiritual fad’, there is a danger of hunting after dreams and their interpretation to the detriment of core spiritual disciplines like prayer and reading scripture. Meanwhile others will be too cynical or closed off to the ways our
supernatural God may move. For myself I am trying to walk a middle road, and I hope you will too. Some of you may have already heard from God in this way, and others of you maybe never will.
But more than anything, let’s strive to have open hearts and minds, and never stop being open to God speaking to us in ways we don’t expect.