Dreams and Visions
Coincidence or miracle, delusional thinking or divine intervention, most people have experienced something they simply cannot explain. Yet it’s often easier to sweep the things that make us uncomfortable under the rug than to give them a closer inspection. Given a popular culture that espouses intellectualism over faith, it can be difficult to not only speak of such matters, let alone reconcile “reason” and “religion.”
This is especially true in the case of prophetic dreams and visions. Some shrug and think such matters nonsense. Others are constantly searching for a sign. There are many false prophets and misguided people who adversely affect others, but there are also many people doing and experiencing miraculous things every day.
Personal Experiences Go A Long Way
When I was a freshman in college, I had a recurring nightmare that my parents would die in a car crash. I’d wake up crying, wondering what was wrong with me. I hadn’t had a traumatic experience, I hadn’t been watching grizzly movies, and I wasn’t that homesick. Not knowing what else to do, I prayed until I fell asleep again. Eventually the dreams stopped.
Flash forward to second semester. I’d been planning an ‘epic’ spring break trip, but as the time drew closer I had this inexplicable feeling I shouldn’t go. I cancelled my tickets and came home, opting to spend the week with my parents instead. Thank God I did.”
Less than a week later, my Father was in a motorcycle accident. He didn’t make it through the night. Only then did I remember the months of dreaming and praying, and I was filled with a strange sense of peace. It was as if God had forewarned me and prepared me for the trauma to come.
In my first year serving as a campus missionary my perspective was altered once again. At the time I didn’t have much experience praying with strangers, and to be honest it made me uncomfortable. I’d prefer get to know someone before sharing something so personal, but I wanted to be open-minded. When asked to pray over students on a retreat I gave it a try.
Paired with a combative, withdrawn guy, I wasn’t sure how he’d react. I could feel the tension radiating off him as I closed my eyes and touched his shoulder. Almost immediately a detailed image of a dirt road and a white clapboard house rose in my mind.
After we finished praying, I struggled with the decision to share what I’d seen. As I’d never experienced anything like it, I feared he’d think me insane. But the insistent pressure in my chest urged me to speak, and I obeyed. He gave me a weird look, said it didn’t mean anything to him, and walked away.
I didn’t see him again until a few months later, at which point I was still so embarrassed I had to fight the urge to hide. Imagine my shock when he ran up to me with a smile on his face. “You’ll never guess what happened!”
A few days after the retreat, he was rushed to the hospital with a burst appendix. Frustrated he hadn’t been able to ‘feel’ God, he’d taken the emergency operation as further proof the Creator didn’t love him. However, upon waking, he saw the exact image I had described for him hanging on a wall opposite his bed.
So were they premonitions or poppycock? I can’t help but believe God wants to give us guidance. If our purpose in life is to learn to love, it only follows that dreams and visions are meant to both help us grow in our personal understanding of the divine and to help others do likewise.