Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Thoughts on Dream Interpretation

I always loved the story of Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolour Dream-coat).  Ever since I first heard it, you could almost say I was enamoured.  My six-year-old brain couldn't quite understand why Moses got "more press" (shall we say).  Sure, God used Moses to save the his people from the tyrannical pharaoh, and yes that is important, but in my mind, Joseph was cooler because (1) he had cool dreams and he could interpret dreams for others, (2) he was a poster child for family problems and survived some pretty rough situations--I mean, his own brothers sold him as a slave and then while a slave he was thrown in jail because the wife of his master framed him for sexual harassment!  Talk about rough. And (3) I must admit that I really liked this story because Joseph's mother was named Rachel. Hehe...

In any case, I would read his story, learn about it in Sunday School, watch different cinematic representations, and pray that God would let me have the same gift as Joseph: dreams.  As a kid, dream interpretation seemed like an amazing super-power because I saw dreams as a way of hearing a message more directly from God.  My young rational was that God, being so holy and us being so not-holy, would make our head explode if he spoke to us directly all the time, but if he speaks to us more indirectly (e.g. through dreams), we'll be okay.  As an adult, I can still see the sense in what past, kid-me thought.  But I digress.  Point being: I prayed a lot asking for this gift.

Where am I going with this?  Have I been having prophetic-type dreams?  Nope.  Only the déjà vu kind with the occasional feeling that what is happening in a current situation happened at one point in a dream.


In the past week, I have been reading the book of Daniel which is another one of my favourites--well, at least the first few chapters are.  When you get to Chapter 7, things start to get a bit more heavy and confusing.  You see, Daniel, like Joseph, was a dreamer.  And Daniel, like Joseph, received wisdom from God so that he could interpret the dreams of others.  As I was reading this through the book this past week, I found myself noticing more Daniel's prophetic dreams.  These were not simple dreams and their content greatly stressed Daniel.  So much so that his "spirit within [him] was anxious, and the visions of [his] head alarmed [him]" (Daniel 7:15).  Later, Daniel says, "I was overcome and lay sick for some days.  Then I rose and went about the king's business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it." (8:27)

What I first thought would be a really cool gift also seems to be a burden.  Not only were the dreams hard to understand, but the visions caused Daniel great distress.  I can't imagine being sick because of a dream.  After reading that, I also rethought Joseph's story.  When he first had his prophetic dreams at home with his family, he did not know what they meant--only that he will be lifted above his brothers.  What kind of thoughts went through his head as he contemplated its meaning?  Did it gnaw away at him?  An annoyance like an itch that can't be reached?  Or what about the time when Joseph was in prison and two other prisoners asked for help interpreting their dreams.  How would it feel to tell someone that their dream foretells their death in three days time?  As a kid, I was so caught up in the miracle of the truth that Joseph and Daniel spoke that I never really noticed the weight of this gift.

I still think that Dreaming is a cool spiritual gift, but my perspective has changed.  I think now of having a dream that is so vivid that I can't forget it.  A dream from which I wake in a cold sweat, shocked, confused and afraid because of content that later leads to sleep loss as I replay the images through my head.  I imagine having to tell someone what their dream foretells unfortunate events--Could I do that?  Would they hate me for telling the truth?

Some heavy food for thought.

Salut et bonne semaine !

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