From time to time a student will ask me about dreams…..does God speak to us through them. My response is, “Sometimes.” Well, how do you know? I tell them that, in my experience, if a dream seems particularly clear and memorable, that is the first clue. If the meaning is not just abundantly clear in the moment based on one’s own understanding, but it seems to persist and invite examination, then one should consider that God has given the dream and ask God for the meaning. And even if you think you know the meaning, ask God to confirm that your understanding is correct. My experience is that we don’t generally have to ponder and mull and talk it out with others, but that God will indeed give the interpretation if one is simply thoughtful and asks for the meaning or the confirmation of what she believes the meaning to be.
I had such a dream in the split second before I awoke this morning. When I awakened, with the image of that dream firmly in my mind, I was alert and in a good mood. As I got up to go to the bathroom, I chuckled because the dream seemed somewhat obtuse and old fashioned. The word that came to mind about the image was “tool”, but it was a somewhat out of date tool, technologically speaking. It was nothing more than a moment’s image, but the image was new, bright and shiny and almost seemed to glow. It was a little like an image out of a child’s book of word games….where an image represents a word or a short phrase as part of larger word puzzle that one has to decipher. I thought about it for a few seconds and then said, “Lord, this seems sort of humorous and odd. I know what to do with this tool, but not what it means in the context of what you might be saying to me. Please show me its relevance.” As I laid back down on the bed, not intending to sleep but to pray, the Lord showed me the meaning of the image. It was more sobering than humorous when He presented the meaning from His perspective. In fact, it was a little scary. I wasn’t to use the tool, I was the tool. And I had already been used.. I cried briefly and thanked God for using me, even when I didn’t realize it. The reason it was scary was because I suddenly did understand when, how, and with whom I had been used.
God had asked me many years ago in another context if I felt “abused” . I have never been abused, physically, sexually, or in any other way that was particularly hurtful and I didn’t carry any such baggage of having felt like a victim of “abuse”. But the implication of God’s question to me then seemed to be that I might be “used” without my permission or awareness. At that time I recall simply replying that I was His, a vessel to be used as He wished. And I would never object to however He wished to use me. I recall realizing in that moment, too, that being used by God could mean being fashioned as a vessel for honor or for dishonor, as is clear in Scripture.
As I prayed this morning, I was reminded of that brief exchange in prayer years ago. And again, I cried briefly and was humbled that God would use me, for whatever purpose He pleased. I have said for years to discipleship students that God has a purpose for each of us and, depending upon the kind of life we choose to live, how we respond to His call to obedience, that purpose may be as a good example or as a horrible warning. I am His and I still am firm in my desire to be used by God, no matter what the consequence to myself may be.
My hymn this morning: (Methodist Hymnal #419, by Fanny Crosby)
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
and it told thy love to me;
but I long to rise in the arms of faith
and be closer drawn to thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to thy precious, bleeding side.
2. Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord,
by the power of grace divine;
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
and my will be lost in thine.
3. O the pure delight of a single hour
that before thy throne I spend,
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
4. There are depths of love that I cannot know
till I cross the narrow sea;
there are heights of joy that I may not reach
till I rest in peace with thee.