I don’t believe that we should look to our dreams for inspiraton or insight into how to live our lives most of the time. The one exception, is when it really does seem to be something that lines up with scripture and what a person and the Lord have been working through together. If it emphasizes what He already has given us in His complete and finished, authoritative word (the Bible) then I do believe that God still can and sometimes will speak to us through our dreams.
At the very least, He can use them to teach us something as we are seeking Him and a greater closeness with Him by always looking for lessons He wants to teach us.
He can speak to us through that still, small voice through an impression, through another person, a passage in scripture, or through our dreams and our thought life. God is unlimited in how He can reveal Himself to us. But we do need to be careful and check such things out prayerfully and against the Word of the Lord. Far too many of us in our world look to such things as replacements for God and what He has already given to us in His Word.
With that being said, I do want to share about a particular dream I did have at one time – one in which the Lord really made an impression upon me – one that just confirmed it was time to move in a different direction with Him in my life. The dream, really, was just the solidification of what my Savior had already been nudging me towards in my personal relationship with Him. But it was so neat to receive such a clear confirmation from Him in this special way!
About four years ago, my dream life became quite active. I was in a season of despair for several reasons, but was clinging to the Lord for strength, comfort, and guidance. My mom was on the last leg of her cancer journey, spiraling downward health-wise, while moving closer and closer to the Lord every day and one step further away from us here. My brain was in overdrive and when I finally would go to sleep. I was dreaming a lot!
Along with my mom’s battle with cancer, one of my children was going through an extremely difficult period and it was affecting all of us – that child, my other children, my husband, myself – it was heart-wrenching. We truly didn’t know what was going to happen day-to-day, and just prayed and prayed that the Lord would guide us and tell us what we should do. I found that I would pray in my sleep and in my dreams during that time too.
I had health issues I was dealing with myself as well. Chemical and hormonal changes (but we actually didn’t know what was going on at that time), sleeping problems, a busy schedule as a wife and mother of three children working at night, trips to arrange to be able to go out to Kansas to see mom, and all kinds of unknowns on the horizon.
I was stressed – and as much as I tried to turn it over to the Lord, I just couldn’t seem to shake off the weight of it all. Some of that is just part of the growth process that eventually comes with going through grief and trials and suffering – some of it is the failure to let go of things and focus on what’s most important – to truly surrender – and allow the Lord to carry us through, deepen our faith, and give us that peace and joy that transcends even the grief and fears and unknown.
So, back to dreaming. I had been having pretty regular dreams in which I could hear myself screaming out loud – in fact, often, those screams would wake me up and bring me back to reality. Sometimes upon waking, I still felt like my reality was in and of itself a dream. I was walking through times that seemed pretty surreal to me back then. The presence of my Savior is the only thing that really kept one foot on the ground. I actually stand in awe at the fact, now that I look back, that I was even functioning at work, while driving over and over again to Kansas, and in my day-to-day life at all. Because of this fog and haze, I have lost a lot of memory in relation to specific details at that time in my life too.
These scream dreams – they weren’t all bad. I am actually grateful for them. I truly think they were blessings – ways to get out all the angst and fear and sadness that I was carrying around on a daily basis as things continued to “develop” with all the previously mentioned situations. Each new day was filled with so much more “stuff” to assimilate and deal with – decisions to make – new emotions to process – other people in my life and all that they were going through themselves – and how to adjust to them and help them through it all as well.
Sudden changes in plans was a constant part of life. There was hoop after hoop to jump through only to find that once you were in the air and on your way to reaching ground on the other side, the course you were supposed to be on had been changed mid-stream. How do you continue to jump with confidence in situations like that?
But one day, I had a dream that was so calm, so crystal clear, that I have put off writing about it because I don’t know that words will adequately describe it. Yet for quite some time, I have felt strongly that i need to try, as the Lord is whispering in my ear that I really do need to share this with others.
This dream involves my Savior, a Sharpie, some cardboard boxes, a beach, and a hammock.
Picture a beach with soft and gentle waves coming up and lapping against the sand. Now allow yourself to hear the sound of the ocean…the waves hitting the shore, the gentle sound of the water kissing the land – swishing forward, and then retreating softly….it’s just around time for the sun to start to set.
I can’t believe how relaxed I feel right now. I feel the sun setting but still kissing my skin as i lay here – whoever thought that a hammock could be so comfortable. I squint and look up and am momentarily caught by surprise…I see a small white gazebo is above me, sheltering me. It’s getting darker now that the sun is setting but I still feel warm – there’s plenty of light still – I guess I can stay here a while longer.
“How did I get here?”, I thought.
I close my eyes again and decide to enjoy this quiet and restful moment. I really love the sound of the water…it’s so soothing. I wish we could just live here…it is so nice. What ever in the world possessed me to live in Colorado? I could have gotten my husband to move to a beach back then if I really had pushed him for it. Actually, I feel kind of guilty thinking about this right now when my mom is so sick and all this other stuff is going on.
“I wonder how I even got here…do I have somewhere else I am supposed to be?”
Then I heard the sound….
Squeeeeeshhhhh. Squeeeeeshhhh. Squeeesh.
“What is that sound?”
The water broke the sound apart and brought me back to where I was before.
“Must have been in my imagination.”
More time passed by as I rocked gently on the hammock.
Squeeeeshhhh. Squeeeeeshhh. Squeeeesh.
I opened my eyes knowing that I definitely heard it again – it was unmistakable. Someone was definitely behind me near the shore and they were the one making this sound.
I sat up in the hammock and looked over to my left and behind me a little. I saw several cardboard boxes – like the kind that you use when you pack up your belongings because you are moving? Yah,those.
Two, three, four…..
“Wow, where did those come from?”, I thought.
“Who brought boxes here? I thought I was alone out here. This is too weird!”
As I continued to scan the beach and follow the squeeshy sound, I saw Him.
I cannot begin to articulate the feeling I had in this moment. All I can say is that my heart stopped, not in fear, but in some feeling of euphoria and peace that I cannot explain. I was SO happy!
His tunic was breezy and flowing behind Him…I wanted to touch it. He was barefoot. So simple….no adornments at all. But just absolutely glorious! He was not intimidating, yet I had never looked upon such beauty. And it seemed to emanate from Him all the way over to me – it felt like being enveloped in a warm, soft hug just by looking at Him.
He looked at me and smiled. He didn’t open His mouth, but He did talk to me with His eyes – kind of like telepathically. He said hello to me. He was so assumptive too – He acted like I fully knew what He was doing there, what I was doing there and what all the boxes were for – like it was just another day.
When I looked at Him questioningly, He told me…..
“You know why we are doing this today, dear one – I know that you know.”
And then he laughed softly.
I looked down at the three boxes that were in front of Him. He had a Sharpie in His hand, and had almost finished writing on the box that was on the top of the other two. He smiled, turned back to the box, and finished writing. Then He turned it to me….
“See? Don’t you remember?”
He was looking at me the way one gazes upon a cute little toddler who is playing dumb…not patronizing at all, but just the way adults feel when little kids are in their own little world and forgetting something they definitely already knew about. I felt loved and adored although I felt kind of confused – like “why don’t I remember?” kind of confused.
It felt as though I awoke out of a dream within the dream at this point. All of a sudden, box after box that was scattered in front of Him along the water line – all of the writing on each of them just popped out for me to read.
Reality hit quite suddenly.
- Mom’s Cancer
- Child’s Difficulties
- Sleeping Problems
- Old Boyfriends
- Self Reliance
- Weight Problems
The list went on and on. There must have been 100 boxes!
I expressed concern to Him that I was laying on the hammock resting while He was doing all the work. He looked at me and just smiled. He said I didn’t need to do anything – that I was right where He needed me to be so He could get His work done.
“But what will become of them?” I asked, concerned about the stuff He was “packing away.”
“Why are you worried about them, dear one?”
“Uh…I just….I don’t know, really. I just feel uncertain….guilty that we are leaving them here for some reason. Who is going to deal with this stuff?”
“Would I put them in the boxes if it was bad to do so?” He said, gently smiling.
“No….I guess not.”
I wasn’t sure why it was still bothering me a bit – the idea of leaving them behind. And I felt badly that I was concerned too. I was concerned about being concerned. Sheesh.
He walked over to me. You see, my friends, He knows me and loves me so well.
He knows that in the face of all of this, something that is disturbing to me is that the boxes – well, the tops of them are still open. I am worried that the contents are going to spill out into the ocean and wash back up on shore and make an even bigger mess than we started out with.
After all the work that He has done, they are just going to spill and make a mess everywhere!
He reached me, and placed the Sharpie by the table next to me. He pulled me up out of the hammock and hugged me. Then He put out his hand in expectation of something. I looked at him with questions in my eyes.
“What am I supposed to do here?” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to let you down.”
He just stretched His hand out further.
And then I knew. He was planning to seal them up all along – He was just waiting for me to do my part.
I looked behind me and on the hammock, right where I had just been sleeping, and there it was. The roll of duct tape.
It was that thing that I had been hiding from Him. It was that one “right” I had reserved to do part of this alone – without Him in the picture. Without Him in control.
He knew it was there. He had known all along. And He showed me compassion even though I had been hiding it.
I picked it up and handed it to Him. He told me to pray while He went back over to the boxes as we would be leaving soon.
Graaaaaappppp. Graaaaaapppppp. Graaaaaapp.
“Father in heaven, thank you for helping me to turn over my pain to you and leave it in these boxes. Thank you for not making them disappear entirely and for knowing that I am not ready to forget about them all just yet. Thank you for helping me to know that you are here to help me – that I won’t be facing any of this alone. And thank you for loving me in spite of the fact that I tried to cut you out of the picture here.”
Graaapapppp. Graaaaappppp. Graaaaaaaap.
“Thank you for taking them off my shoulders and allowing me to lay them down, only to return to them as you see fit and deal with all the contents. They were so heavy.”
“I don’t know where we are going, but I know I get to go with You, and I am so grateful for you, Father. Thank you for the past that is in those boxes because it reminds me of your grace and all that You have done for me. And thank you for allowing me to lay down the ones that contain the trials of the present too….I know they are still there, but at least I can lay them down.”
I looked over and could see that He had heard my prayer. He knew I was speaking to Him.
I felt the soft hand on my shoulder. “Are you ready, dear child that I love?”
“Yes. I am so sorry that it took me so long. I am sorry for disobeying you.”
“My child, you had a lot of boxes. You are tired. I’d like to carry you for a while.”
I didn’t want for this dream to end. But in essence, it never really did. From that point on, He has shown me time and time again that He will never be placed in a box!
Jesus revealed more of Himself to me through hard experiences and through my disobedient past, through my grief, and my shortcomings…through my trials, my tears, and my pain, than through anything else. And He did so in ways that cannot be compartmentalized. And my pain, my past sins, my regrets that I cannot change, the fear of the unknown, the grief and heartache, they aren’t weighing me down any more.
The contents of those boxes – most of them are things that I have been able, with the power and love of Jesus, to place in the trash now. But some aren’t in the trash just yet. Those, I just needed to stop carrying around with me all the time.
My testimony is in those boxes. My faith grew out of what He did with the contents inside of them. The full realization of all that He’s done for me can be seen through how He moved me away from the box and into a new place that is lighter, more joyful, and full of HIM. It’s a place where I am free. And it’s a place that’s full of HE.
Sometimes when new trials ensue, He still has to remind me to get out the duct tape and hand it over. But He is faithful to do so. And His compassion and love never fail.
I don’t know where all we are going to go in this life as we travel through it, but I do know that we are walking everywhere together, hand in hand with Jesus if we truly turn it all over to Him and follow after Him with all that we have.
Sometimes, He picks me up again and carries me for a while -that’s my favorite part of this life. And when it comes time to return to a box now and then, to do some work there and decide what can be discarded and what should be kept in order to tell our story, I don’t have to worry about the labels on the boxes will have been worn out or even erased.
Because see…. Jesus knows everything! He is perfect. He is perfectly Holy, and He is perfectly accurate.
And He used a Sharpie and a roll of duct tape to show me that.
He meets us where we need to be met without compromising any of His perfection or the truth that He is. He can deal with complexity in the simplest of ways, speaking volumes to us in the entire process. Isn’t Jesus Christ just AWESOME?
Nothing can separate me from Him now. Not the boxes, not the suffering, not the regrets I have, the sins I commit…not even death.
Like I said, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in “just” dreams.
But my God and my Savior? I believe in Him. I hang all my hope upon Him. He can bear my weight -it’s not hard for Him to do so. He bore all the sin of the world – past, present – future – on that cross.
He can speak to us anytime, anywhere. And He doesn’t need a Sharpie – He just used one once for my benefit.
I’m so glad He knows how to meet me right where I am at in ways that speak to me and make sense to me.
And my God, my God? He doesn’t live inside a box. He lives inside of me.
Roughly four years ago, it was my moving day. A Mighty Mover showed up and took care of it all with grace and ease. All I had to do was give up a roll of duct tape I had hidden away.
And when we were finished – He even carried me away on His shoulders.
Make no mistake about it – He can do the same for YOU.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30