Over the last year (2010) I traveled to Arizona, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Moscow, Rome and Greece. I visited the White House, ran a marathon and met people from Scotland, Italy & South Africa. All this traveling and meeting happened not because I won the lottery but occurred in my dreams, at least 187 of which made an impression on me enough that upon waking I wrote them down. There are those who say that dreams are the static of the brain discharging after day of activity with no meaning – however, I think there are adequate reasons to pay attention to them which includes their importance in the Bible as well as the autobiographies of people, great & small, Christian or not, from the Babylonian ruler King Nebuchadnezzar to the former slave trader, Anglican pastor and hymn writer, John Newton.
I was reminded of all the places I visited in my dreams after watching the movie “Inception,” the dream centered thriller where corporate espionage spies or “extractors” intentionally enter the dream state to plant or steal ideas without their victims knowing it. “Inception” is one of the best of its kind since “The Matrix.” The movie brings out what I have often pondered – where and how does the scene and setting of the dream come from, especially when its not an actual place the dreamer has visited or seen before? Of course the team in the movie employ an “architect” to design a set real enough to convince the dreamer they are where they seem to be and in real-time life. How about one’s own dreams?
John Newton writes in the narrative of his conversion about the divine origins of a dream of Venice and a lost ring which left a powerful effect on his mind before his conversion.
“The consideration of whom I am writing to, renders it needless for me either to enter upon a discussion of the nature of dreams in general, or to make an apology for recording my own. Those who acknowledge Scripture will allow that there have been monitory and supernatural dreams, evident communications from heaven, either directing or foretelling future events: and those who are acquainted with the history and experience of the people of God, are well assured, that such intimations have not been totally withheld in any period down to the present times.”
Reason, far from contradicting this supposition, strongly pleads for it, where the process of reasoning is rightly understood and carefully pursued. So that a late eminent writer, who I presume is not generally charged with enthusiasm, undertakes to prove, that the phenomenon of dreaming is inexplicable at least, if not absolutely impossible, without taking in the agency and intervention of spiritual beings, to us invisible. For my own part, I can say, without scruple, ‘The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.’ I am sure I dreamed to the following effect; and I cannot doubt, from what I have seen since, that it had a direct and easy application to my own circumstances, to the dangers n which I was about to plunge myself, and to the unmerited deliverance and mercy which God would be pleased to afford me in the time of my distress.”
Sad to say many Christians have adopted an anti-supernatural bias and suspicion both to such testimonies even by spiritual giants like Newton or the reasonable consideration and application of scriptural evidence, dismissing them as mystical errors or diabolical deceptions. Yet, in contrast, a few sentences later Newton records there came “a time came when I found myself in circumstances very nearly resembling those suggested by this extraordinary dream” – from the paragraph above he also seems to have recorded his dreams and considered them to be (with due caution and judicious consideration) as “communications from heaven” for the people of God, not having ceased even in his own time. Nor do I believe have they ceased in our own time. With “Inception” Hollywood has done an incredible job of dazzling our minds and eyes with conceptions of time, place, perception and consciousness. Yet, a movie can only mimic the real experience of dreaming – even in the movies the top doesn’t spin forever.
Through the witness of real dreams, lives have been saved from danger, leaders humbled, ideas given birth, direction given and people’s destiny transformed for the glory of God. How scenes, places and settings are created is an amazing, creative, mysterious process that ultimately reflects the greatest architects of all – the triune God. But we get to enjoy the places we go and the people we meet – all because “God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword” (Job 33:14-18).