by Gloria Coffin

“You should be a movie producer.”

“Must have been something you ate.”

“Stop reading those novels.”

These are comments we often hear when sharing our dreams with others, but I never discount the content of my dreams simply because of their relationship to the external.coffin-author Sure, the baseline for a dream may stem from late night pizza, a science fiction giant anaconda movie or a painful interaction with a friend, but my dreams have always centered my mind, providing direction and wisdom.

Please do not misunderstand. If a dream was about soaring through the air, I didn’t assume it meant I could fly; however, I have been reminded there are ways to rise above what, on the surface, seems impossible terrain.

We are a people of comfort in the certainty of material content. Eventually the juxtaposition of directional thought and related experiences teaches us to respond to God’s messages wafting on the breeze during our waking hours.

“Maybe I should clean the kitchen now,” prepares us for an unexpected visitor later.

“Call Sally,” leads us to discover Sally’s battery died and she needs a ride to an appointment.

“Buy that extra pair of gloves,” becomes providential on our way home from shopping when we pass a homeless person shivering in the cold.

The song on the radio speaking to our pain, the sign on the fence reminding us to call the insurance agent and a phrase repeated three times in one day should not order our lives as if God is in control, directing our every move; however, the transfer of wisdom will inform our options. We begin to pay closer attention to these messages, accepting them as coming from the God of love.

Why couldn’t the same God also use the hours we sleep as an avenue for information to help us cooperate with God’s efforts for good? After all, once we finally lay to rest the responsibilities and concerns of the day, our sleep hours are the most relaxed times our minds have. Perhaps we are most receptive as we sleep.

In Windows of the Soul, Paul Meier, MD and Robert L. Wise, PhD, remove the common fear of opening ourselves to something evil in dream studies. With simple illustrations and advice for recording dreams as soon as we awaken, they include stories from our spiritual ancestors noting biblical truth intentionally revealed, insights God sent for personal guidance, encouragement, protection and motivation.

My father, a logically thinking civil engineer, was my first dream therapist. One night I woke up sobbing and frantically described the dreaded children’s nightmare. I was running as fast as I could with family up ahead and Daddy right behind but too close to the bad guys fiendishly waving their weapons.

“Don’t worry,” my all-time, favorite hero reassured me, “I’m going to outlive all the rest of you!”

On a more recent night, bemused by thoughts of this essay and an unexpected dead end in my ministry journey, I hoped for insight to come in the next eight hours of peaceful slumber. I’m not sure why I am frequently surprised when it happens, but it happened and I was surprised.

In this dream a mother and daughter jogged past our cabin in the woods. They lived so far away I was curious. There had to be a reason they were there. No one simply passes through on their way somewhere else. If you are on “my road,” you either live nearby or you have a specific reason for coming. With a friendly wave, the mom said she’d be back and we would chat about why she was there.

On my list of things to do were errands taking me through several towns, including the one where my jogging friends lived. Their street was a mess. Construction made it impassable. Pulling over and backing up to turn around I began spinning my wheels in a rut. That’s when I saw my friend’s hubby on foot. He told me the family was staying with folks out of town. Grinning, I told him I thought I knew the place!

Half awake I squeezed my eyes shut to recall the musical segue moving me from subconscious to wide awake. Quickly documenting the memory and rereading it, I experienced an epiphany. While I know my dream stories often reflect personal concerns and the musical phrases usually provide insightful direction, I had missed the obvious for decades. Transcribed, the written words were messages I could see, direct communication in print from the God of uncontrolling love.

As the day continued, scattered phrases from the song, Through it All by Andre Crouch, continued to play nonstop in my subconscious, telling me I was not alone.

“I’ve had lots of tears and sorrow,
There’ve been questions for tomorrow,
But I’ve learned to trust in Jesus;
I’ve learned to depend upon God’s Word.”

The verse reminded me of past valleys and storms I had survived just fine. Here was God working for good through a dream which contained words about my life in language I could read and understand.

Over the years, many of my dreams revealed hidden anxieties, relieved unknown tensions and resolved conflicts. If you look closely at the dream about the joggers, road construction, turning around and spinning wheels, you see pieces of my situation. Laugh if you will, but I was convinced there would be more answers the next time I dreamt. After all, the joggers were there for a reason and the mom was coming back to reflect with me later.

We read our Bibles. We pray. We seek out good preaching and educated theologians for many of our questions. Why not also open the window to that peaceful darkened room in our minds where we have designated space and undistracted time to listen to the message God wants to send?

A public speaker, writer/editor, minister and Facebook devotee, Gloria is convinced self-worth, healthy boundaries and universal respect can change the world. She has become an advocate for the marginalized using her voice for the voiceless, offering hope for the hopeless and encouragement for the discouraged.

6 thoughts on “Are Dreams Regular Appointments with the Source of All Wisdom?

  1. Thanks for your provocative post, Gloria! I’ve pondered dreams and God’s role in relation to them. And I’ve found it to be complex and intriguing thought process. If God acts influentially but never controllingly in all events, our dreams can be a way God communicates. Of course, there will also be creaturely factors involved too. So interpretation and discernment are essential. Thanks!

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  2. Thanks, Tom. I agree. In the same way daily reminders are not literal messages from a controlling God, dream content should not be our horoscope for living. In the context of all the other material available to us, it can add information we might not have otherwise considered.

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  3. The article was excellent! I agreed wholeheartedly except the statement he wrote in his book about the spiritual ancestor. On countless days the Lord wakes me up with a song. For awhile I was recording what I heard. Many of my dreams have meaning which I generally will figure out in the upcoming days. I love also how I am awakened to hear at 3 or 4 o’clock. Those times when I am obedient reveal deep truth often speaking into my life or will pertain to someone I come into contact with.

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    • Thank you, Janice.
      Do you actually remember something if you don’t write it down? Usually if I wake up with a thought, however unique, I cannot bring it back unless i make a note at the time.
      The spiritual ancestor comment was in my explanation of the Dreams book.
      Maybe I misled. How did you understand it?
      Blessings,
      Gloria

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  4. Thanks for your thoughtful reflections, Gloria. As a process theologian myself, I am convinced (like you) that God’s living presence is perpetually present, and omni-adaptive, in that peaceful darkened room we call “sleep.” Perhaps you might be interested in two essays in Jesus, Jazz, and Buddhism.

    One is called the The Joy of Sleeping: Sleep as Communion with God: http://www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org/the-joy-of-sleeping-sleep-as-communion-with-god.html. It resonates with your thinking in a deep way.

    As you know, dreaming can also reveal aspects of our lives we otherwise hide from ourselves, some kindly and some less so. From a process perspective, the guiding, yet non-coercive God may well beckon us to own our Shadow side, which likewise surfaces in dreams. Toward that end you may find this article helpful:

    “No, the Demons are not Banished: Whitehead, Jung, and Farao:
    http://www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org/no-the-demons-are-not-banished-jung-whitehead-and-farao-on-the-shadow.html

    Thanks again for inviting us to look beneath the surface.

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    • Thank you for your comments and links.

      I’m especially taken by this Shadow thought, “We can hide from our gifts as well as our sins.” In my opinion we tend to think of ourselves less kindly than we ought to think, but it is not a commonly accepted notion. In that regard I have heard, but not studied, Shadow theories, always understanding them to direct us to seek out our darker sides. I appreciate the insight into a balance of shadow sides.

      Sleep as communion, not petition, reminds me of a friend’s belief about sleep as a time when our souls travel with God.

      Blessings,
      Gloria

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