How Should a Christian Interpret Them?

"Even at the age of 16, I knew that the dream meant that the Lord was calling me to be His and that His call was irresistible!"

A consideration of a Christian's world of dreams

We all experience dreams; some of us appear to experience them on a regular basis, others feel that they only have dreams on quite rare occasions. However, 'sleep experts' tell us that such people actually do have regular dreams but probably fail to retain them. Unless, that is, something prompts remembrance quite soon afterwards.

I had a dream like that very recently! I completely forgot about it until literally just hours later, I happened to notice an office paper shredder in a shop window. "Hey! Thats broken my dream," I shouted to my wife. Just a few hours earlier I had dreamed that I was working in an office and given the task of shredding some papers, but upon putting them through the shredding machine, I found that it wasn't working correctly and the papers were coming out unscathed!! Just a silly, meaningless dream? Probably, and most dreams are quite meaningless. Dreams often appear to be some sort of 'mish-mash' of our various subconscious thoughts and fears.

Recently, I was reading the story of Joseph and his dreams to Sammy, our little eight year old fostered girl. Not surprisingly, upon hearing that Joseph's dreams had real meaning and were prophetic, Sammy asked if all dreams are like that. It was this incident, plus my 'paper-shredding' dream and a rather odd article on dreams which I read in an evangelical paper, which convinced me that it was time to write about a Christian approach to dreams.

An overall biblical approach to the world of dreams is probably found in Ecclesiastes 5. We are told this:
'For a dream comes through much activity..'

(Ecc 5:3a NKJV).
The NIV has this,
'As a dream comes when there are many cares..'
The meaning appears to be that if we have many cares, or, perhaps, decisions to make, or if we are feeling fretful, we will dream rather more than if we are at complete peace. The 'activity' in the NKJV rendition should probably be seen as mental activity. So our cares and concerns and subconscious fears are going to lead to dreams - but this is more or less normal. However Verse 7 of Ecclesiastes 5 adds a warning:
'For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God' (NKJV)
So here we have a warning not to fret too much about dreams, nor to discuss them too much; they are just dreams!!

The Bible also warns us about those who 'dream dreams' that is: those who may continually try to suggest to us that their dreams are especially meaningful and perhaps prophetic! (Deuteronomy 13, for instance).
We should always bear the following in mind;
'God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds'

(Hebrews 1:1-2).
In general terms, God now only speaks to His people through the pages of the Holy Bible, and we should be just a little suspicious of those who claim extra-biblical revelations to themselves! Indeed, we might reflect that several of the cults and sects were started by people who claimed angelic revelations, and sometimes 'dream revelations'!

Any one of us has probably experienced countless thousands - if not millions - of dreams during our lives and, for most of the time, we really should not pay too much attention to them!
So am I saying that a Christian will never experience a dream which has real or even prophetic meaning?
No. I am not! But such occasions can be expected to be rare.

Out of the, probably, millions of dreams which I have had, three have never left me and I believe that God was indeed showing me something through those dreams! Why do I say this? Because I have never forgotten these dreams and because they made such a powerful impact upon me. But only as, I believe, the Lord has granted me spiritual discernment and indeed, only after many years of life experience, am I prepared to make such a claim - it remains the case that more than 99.9% of dreams are confused and meaningless!

For those who might be interested, here are those three dreams:

1. At the age of 16 (42 years ago as I write this), I had a powerful dream which shook me. In the dream, I was, with many others, walking through one of those old fashioned English hedge mazes - we were all trying to find our way out, but it was hopeless! Confusion reigned! Then - literally 'out of the blue' I had the sensation of being lifted up. When lifted quite high, and being able to perceive the continued confusion of those still within the maze, I saw a beautiful white temple in the distance; suddenly, I was rushing towards it. After all these many years, I still recall the dream vividly and in great detail, so it was no ordinary dream for sure!
Even at the age of 16, I knew that the dream meant that the Lord was calling me to be His and that His call was irresistible! The 'maze' was this world and society which He was lifting me out of. I may say that about a year before this my interest in the Bible had been stirred by a Jehovah's Witness and by the 'Plain Truth' magazine. I recall going through the Bible and realising that it was impossible for me to understand it so I distinctly recollect kneeling by my bed and beseeching the Lord to give me an understanding of His Word. The powerful dream seemed to come about a year later.

2. No more special and powerful dreams for many years, then between 1995 and 2000 I had two (I didn't record the exact dates). The first of these was just after leaving the WCG organisation. In the dream, I was still in a WCG meeting, but I was sitting on the floor in a state of disappointment and sadness. A few others sat on the floor with me. But all the WCG people were milling around us going about their usual business; they appeared to be unaware of those of us sitting on the floor!
Suddenly a beautiful young woman entered the meeting hall and made straight for those of us who were sitting on the floor. She lifted us up in a warm spirit of love, concern and encouragement. Then she led us out of the WCG meeting place. She had a message for me, and it was vivid and clear (even though, oddly, spoken without any words at all): 'Your work is now elsewhere - take encouragement and comfort, and come follow me!' The woman walked out of the typical WCG meeting hall and two or three of us followed. We passed a typical WCG minister giving a sermon but he was blind to us. As we passed him I thought, 'Yes, I used to give sermonettes in the WCG, but never again, for my work is now elsewhere.'
I came to believe that this lovely young woman represented the Church (The Mother of us all). It should go without saying that I was tremendously encouraged by this powerful and very stirring dream! I recall that I awoke immediately after this dream (as in the case of the two others which I relate here), which may be why I recall them with such clarity.

3. The final dream which I felt to be of significance (unlike the 99.9+ per cent which appear to fairly meaningless, even if sometimes quite amusing), occurred when, after successfully completing my theology degree, I sought a baptist or independent evangelical pastorate. I had become somewhat discouraged that doors appeared to be closing to me rather than opening. The dream appeared to directly address my dilemma: In my dream, I came upon a building site, but the builders had all left - where were they? Why were they not building? In my dream, I was concerned at the inaction. I decided to get some cement mixed and tried to do some work, but a man came to my side and appeared to clearly speak, yet without using words. In effect, he said, 'You don't have the necessary skills for this. Stop trying to build. Leave it, and leave the building site. Others will eventually get this finished, and then you can start your work. Your work will start later' Meaning? I am still not completely sure!! But I do know that the Lord was saying, 'I am not going to let you pastor a congregation, but there is work for you to do, and it will come later.' Was the 'later' work which the Lord would have me do, this internet ministry? I don't know but it could be since the Lord has greatly blessed this ministry. Is it a reference to something yet future? Again, I cannot be sure, and yet, of course, all Christians have a work in the future, in the New Heavens and New Earth!

I would not like this article to encourage an outburst of people attempting to 'interpret dreams' - let me again stress that the three dreams which have occurred in my life which I am pretty sure were meaningful were just three out of...millions!! I remain convinced that most dreams are just a mish-mash of often confused and contradictory things emanating from the subconscious mind. As the Bible says, 'a dream comes through much (mental/subconscious) activity'.
Robin A. Brace