One morning, my 11-year-old daughter came downstairs visibly upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me about her bad dream.
“A cat with a long neck was pushing me around.”
Although I sympathized with her, the cartoonist in me immediately imagined a pushy, long-necked cat, and it struck me funny. Elisabeth was not amused, however, until I drew a picture of what she described.
Have you ever wondered why we dream? I don’t know all the reasons, and I haven’t done any research on the subject. But, drawing from my own personal experience, I think we can trace many of our dreams back to three different sources.
- Our own spirits are talking to us
- An enemy spirit is whispering to us
- God’s Spirit is speaking to us
Source 1: Our spirits
I’ve had this recurring dream. It’s dark, and I am in the back seat of a car going 60 miles an hour down the center lane of a crowded highway. The dream always begins in the same place–the moment I realize that no one is behind the wheel.
In a panic, I struggle to climb over the seat back, but I never make it into the driver’s seat. As I desperately grasp for the wheel, the car begins to veer, and I anticipate that I will soon hear the sound of a collision. Then I wake up.
I told my wife about the dream, adding that I don’t know what it means. She replied with a smirk, “Jesus, take the wheel.”
OK, it might apply.
One thing is clear, my spirit is afraid of something, and that fear is being communicated as I keep reliving the same frightening experience.
Source 2: The enemy
In a very dark season of my life, I played host to some unwelcome visitors that I called “the specters.” (If you are saying to yourself,. ‘This guy is unhinged,’ you don’t know the half of it.)
These weren’t ghosts but images representing people I knew. The figures I “saw” in my mind were always still and speechless. But they communicated condemnation. They formed a silent jury with a settled “guilty” verdict.
And hiding behind the cover of these images was none other than the accuser himself, hissing his own false condemnation.
Source 3: God’s Spirit
In another post (Up in Flames), I describe a vision I had of a raging wall of flames that I immediately understood to be the consuming fire of God’s holy love for me. This vision was an utter surprise to me. In response to my own private thoughts, the Spirit intruded into my imagination, flooded my spirit with warmth, and communicated to my mind a rational explanation for the vision.
For most of my life, I didn’t even have a category for God’s direct, personal communication to me. But God has been teaching me that He says a lot more to me than I hear, and reveals a lot more than I see.
I am learning to pay better attention–even in my sleep.
How have your dreams spoken to you?