Dream Within a Dream
What does it mean? Or does it mean anything?
If anything, I suspect it means that maybe I caught a glimpse into a deeper part of how my heart really feels, of some of its true longings for fulfillment and satisfaction and for assurance that I can really perceive God's will for my life.
Just a few minutes ago I awoke from a very intense dream that riveted my attention. Like most dreams I don't really know actually how long it went on, but the emotions that I felt were both so intense and real and rare that I desperately wish I could remember most of the dream. But as is too often the case I can only remember just a few snitches of it, enough to get some of the layout while losing most of the details.
I am trying to collect the few remaining pieces here before it is completely gone. I am sure that this dream was largely influenced by the long discussion we had with our adopted daughter last night and her intense desire to follow God's will in her life, her longings for a husband and her struggles to overcome deep wounds in her own heart. In many respects she has reminded me of my own life though we did not even know her until she was around nine or ten. Her father and I shared many of the same generational problems in religion and life and now God has been using me over the past few years as a surrogate father to continue her healing process after her own father's death.
In my dream I seem to have found myself in a situation not unlike hers, longing to know what God wanted me to do with my life, longing to be involved in something that made a real difference in the world as far as heaven's perspective. This certainly is true in my waking life but seldom comes to the surface in such an intense way. The beginnings of the dream are now so fuzzy in my memory that I really can't recall what transpired there, but somehow I sensed that God was beginning to speak to me about going somewhere specific. Someone came up to me and suggested that I consider traveling a great distance, maybe to the South Pacific region. Others, many whom I did not even know, began to affirm that in various ways and the proposal began to take on more specificity until someone began suggesting that I consider attending a seminary located there as well.
My normal left-brain skepticism began kicking in of course and I kindly accepted these suggestions with a large grain of salt at first. Attending seminary, especially at my age just seems totally bizarre though I am sure there have been a number of people who have done so. There was no suggestion that I attend the one nearest to me but that somehow God had much broader plans for me far away in that part of the world.
As the dream progressed things quickly began to develop more along this track. Somehow as I began to consider more seriously that maybe this idea might indeed be from God, the reinforcing affirmations almost immediately intensified. Some church or some similar entity offered me a paid plane ticket to that region to just check out the possibilities and I decided to take them up on it. Upon arriving in that area local people in a church there, total strangers to me began coming up to me and thanking me profusely for being willing to come there and work for the natives of that region. As dreams go this was all somewhat idealistic and I seemed to have some influence over how the dream was unfolding, I am not sure. But I do remember that the name New Guinea came into the dream and the idea of being a mission pilot began to emerge as part of the plan emerging for me.
Somewhere there along in my dream the reality of what God was offering me became so intense to me that as I was somewhere in a group of these people, possibly in a church hallway or something like that, I became so overwhelmed with emotion and relief and joy at finally being able to have assurance that I was in the center of God's will for my life that I simply melted down onto the floor in gut-wrenching sobs and weeping. I seldom have dreams that take me that far into my deepest emotions and when they do I can't help but wonder what it means to me in real life.
Somewhere also around that time someone came to me or a voice came to my mind declaring that it makes little difference to God what age a person is when they accept the call of God, that what really matters is that they totally surrender themselves to that call and plunge into the will of God with their whole heart, body, soul, mind and spirit. God can take a choice like that and bring amazing results from it that will reverberate for many years after the death of the person thus engaged, but He can also bring such satisfaction and joy to that person even during the short time they have left in life that it can equal or surpass a whole lifetime of similar service.
All of this, the affirmations, the assurance, the peace, the joy, the sense of being in the center of God's will and purpose for my life – all of this was so refreshing and real and present for me that what happened next was very disturbing and alarming to me. I woke up from my dream (I thought) without realizing that I was still in the dream. In other words, I woke up from my dream within my dream. After I woke up in my dream I began to wonder just how valid all that had transpired really was. I certainly wanted it to be true and I longed to stay immersed within that sense of wonder, joy and assurance, but I also wanted a little confirmation that this was not just a dream, that this was really God speaking to me.
So to check out the validity of what I believed I had experienced in my dream, I decided to approach one or two of the people that I had encountered in my dream who had urged me to go and ask them if they had actually said what they said to me in my dream. Maybe I was hoping that maybe it wasn't a dream after all or that at least they would confirm what I had dreamed they had said to me. But to my dismay each person I asked seemed to have no recollection or even shared similar ideas to what I thought they had so openly talked about just minutes previously. Some of them even seemed to almost contradict what I had experienced them saying in my dream.
This was extremely disconcerting for me and my doubts began to multiply rapidly. Was God playing with my mind? Was He teasing me or was my own mind playing tricks on me? What was I supposed to make of all this? Was I supposed to just go on the strength of the dream and move in that direction or would that be an act of presumption?
Not long after that I actually woke up for real from both dreams. Then my confusion became even greater. As I realized that all the above was simply layers of dreams, desires, longings and hopes I wondered even more what, if anything, I was to make of this. Was it some sort of coded message to me from God? Or was it simply my own heart revealing in a very idealistic fabrication of my imagination what it would like to experience based on long suppressed dreams from my youth? Does God still have some grand part for me to play in His work or is that desire itself a selfish distortion of God's real purpose to use me in more effective but humble ways somewhere else?
All of these questions will not easily be answered I am sure and may not even have good answers. I do suspect that my heart took this opportunity to share some of its dreams with me. Maybe it is starting to feel more safe to come into the open a little because I am willing to not discredit its ideas so quickly as previously. I don't know for sure. But what I do notice is that anything that elicits such powerful emotions in a person's life seems to have the ability to rivet that person's attention and gain credibility simply because it resonates so deeply. Never mind that it may or may not be in line with the Word of God, if something taps into a deep reserve of longing for fulfillment and satisfaction in a person's experience they can easily tend to gravitate toward insisting that it must be from God.