“I had a dream once.” ~ Hook-Handed Thug, Tangled
When I was eleven, I had the following dream. I dreamt that, for whatever reason, we were living in a time when the kidnapping of babies was rampant and everyone had to be on the alert for intruders. How I knew this factoid within the dream, I do not know, for I don’t think there was any sort of exposition on the subject. I was, by the way, my age – eleven – in this dream and my then-baby sister was her appropriate age of half a year old.
At any rate, in this dream, my mom told me to sit downstairs on the couch by the front door in the event that a kidnapper would try to enter. I obeyed and presently heard her shower running. I decided then to take a quick peek upstairs just to check on my sleeping sister. There she was, sound asleep in her crib. But there also, beside the rocking chair just a few feet away, was a man. A man most certainly not my dad. He didn’t see me in the doorway, just squatted beside the chair, staring intently at my baby sister. I noticed that he wore all black, a mask over his eyes, and black riding boots.
Fear, of course, assailed me. How did he get in? When did he get in? Why hadn’t he taken my sister yet? And what in the blue blazes was he waiting for?! I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I crept quietly back downstairs and sat on the couch. Maybe I was too scared to do anything about it on my own. Maybe I was trying to create a sense of normalcy to lull him into carelessness. I do remember thinking that I didn’t dare call the police for fear he’d hear the dialling phone and grab my sister and go. So I waited on the couch.
My mom came out of the shower and I hear her take my sister and get her ready for a sponge bath. Nothing sounded at all out of the ordinary. I went back upstairs to check on them.
If my heart had stopped before, it practically died this second time.
How my mom didn’t see the stranger in the room is beyond me, for he wasn’t hidden in the least when I first saw him. No, she was just giving my sister a sponge bath on the change table per the usual. The man had, at some point, gotten up and silently come up behind my mom, hands poised over her shoulders as though to grab her and shove her aside.
Something in me snapped. I felt my blood boil and I found my voice. I yelled at him. Probably half of it was incoherent gibberish, but I yelled with all my might, finger pointed at him. Then I marched in, grabbed him by the collar (not sure how, for he must have been a little over six feet and I wasn’t particularly tall), and dragged him down the stairs, out the door, and onto the driveway. This whole time, I was yelling at my mom to lock the door behind us and call the police. Once outside, I proceeded to pummel him on my driveway (as much as an eleven-year-old can do, anyway) till the police arrived a minute later and took him away.
I woke up in a muck sweat and with my heart racing.
“Tell me what you dreamt, and I will tell you what it meant.” ~ Golde, The Fiddler on the Roof
Though it took eight years after I’d had this terrifying dream, I now know that God was communicating an important message to me at the time.
Whoa, whoa, where is this going? I promise you’ll want to hear me out on this!
That black-garbed kidnapper, see, is the Devil. My sister represents this generation of children. Satan is out to ensnare our kids, folks. And the younger he nabs them, the sooner he nurtures his darkness in them and turns them away from God. And the more he grabs of them, the greater his influence in this present world.
And I, the protective and avenging sister? Well, one of the rarer meanings of my first name is “light” while the meaning of my middle name is “supplanter”. I represent the vigilant Christian. One who, though at first fearful and uncertain, came through with the power of the Living Light of the World to thwart the plans of the Prince of Darkness and save a little soul from his clutches!
Good Christian, I implore you, be strong, be vigilant, for your adversary the Devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Guard over the little ones especially. Teach them well in the ways of the Lord and defend their souls from the prowling Devil.
“Tell me of your dreams my friends
And I will tell you what they show,
Though I cannot guarantee to get it right,
I’ll have a go.” ~ Joseph, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
For those of you who got really concerned about my theology in the previous section, you can breathe now.
Let me be the first to say that I do not deny that God can speak through dreams. Joseph (both Josephs, actually) and Daniel are prime examples. The Wise Men. A couple different pharaohs. Nebuchadnezzar. Paul. Peter. I do not discount any of these and I believe every word the Bible has to say about them. I also don’t necessarily think that God has stopped communicating via dreams. It’s possible He has, it’s possible He hasn’t. I’m not here to say it either way.
Now that I have that established, let me state what I truly think of the topic: I am at best wary of apparently God-given interpretations of dreams today. I’ve heard from a church stage several different dreams and their interpretations. And I wonder. How many of these are actually God-given interpretations?
Yes, dreams can be weird. And some weird dreams (Nebuchadnezzar’s statue or Pharoah’s cows eating each other, anyone?) have been loaded with meaning. Anybody can dream weird dreams — sisters-in-law becoming pregnant, pitch-black platypuses creeping about your house and running up to you, scary guys who have an even scarier purpose for making you want to kill them (I personally know people who’ve had the former two; the latter is my own…).
Anybody can also attribute meaning to dreams. (Hello, all those books and websites about the supposed meanings of elements in your dreams?) For any who might have happened to believe that I meant what I said when I “interpreted” my dream, I’ll let you in on a secret: I made it up. Impromptu, in fact, a year or two ago over lunch with my parents.
Admittedly, my impromptu “interpretation” was, at the time, formed from my incredulity at a couple dreams and interpretations I’d heard just that day. Admittedly, it was done in a spirit of mockery, sarcasm, and disrespect, for which I am sorry.
I do not, however, apologize for posting it all the same.
There is a complacent spirit in both our society and our churches to simply take what is fed to us as-is and so often without adequate mulling over and discerning of what we just digested. I’ve heard dreams and their apparent interpretations be “wow”ed and “amen”ed and “awesome”d many times and I’m tired of just letting it go. It’s possible that I’m just a critical skeptic who is too stubborn to see that these are “words from The Lord”. It’s also possible that (at least some of) the interpretations are just the imaginings of men, like the one I gave above.
But what if it makes sense? For an example, let’s look at my “interpretation”. We know that Satan wants his conquests and we know that children are so easily, effortlessly led astray (faith of a child and all). We know that we need to keep our eyes peeled for the wiles of the Devil: the Bible says so (and I even quoted that verse in my interpretation!). But just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean that the dream itself is a “word from the Lord”. I could probably twist the dream in which I shot a guy in the face to mean something that sounds like a spiritual truth (maybe just play Carmen’s “Satan, Bite the Dust”?). I might even figure out something to say about the dream in which I went to Narnia and met each and every one of the good characters. Point is, to make up an interpretation of a dream is just as easy as the false prophet Hananiah proclaiming the peace and freedom of Jerusalem when the true prophet Jeremiah preached otherwise.
Another thing to consider is the doctrine of the dreams. Some of this goes back to what I said about the general problem of people simply taking what’s fed to them without searching it out for themselves. I agree with the points of my “interpretation” except for one or two things. For example, according to my “interpretation”, I, the vigilant Christian, directly confront the Devil and beat him on my driveway. The Bible says that not even the archangel Michael does that for that is solely God’s place and authority. Yes, God promises that Satan will be under our feet, but it is not we that put him there. My dream does not jive with that and so is not totally sound.
As for the interpretations that don’t make much sense even logically? Well, come on, a little logic doesn’t hurt anybody and a little thought can go a long way in the direction of discernment.
This is not meant to bash the idea of dreams and interpretations in the modern church or those who accept it. I don’t pretend to be an expert or a theologian. I don’t pretend to be a prophet giving you what God says about this. All I want to say is please, please, please be a discerning listener. Whatever your conclusions on the matters are are your own affair, but please at least give instances like these (or instances of any other kind or even simply speech, be it from a pulpit or casual conversation) careful consideration. Search the Scriptures. Check to see if something said harmonizes with the Bible. Check it even to see if what is said makes sense with itself! Do whatever it takes to chew the cud over before digesting it.