"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you." 1 Timothy 4:12-14
Our Pastor shared verse 14 here with us yesterday at church, and as soon as I read it, I knew that I was guilty of doing the very thing Timothy warned against. He says do not neglect your gift, and I think I've been doing just that. Last year, for the first time that I know of, I really discovered that God talks to me through dreams. I think he talks to many people through their dreams, they just don't realize it. But in my case, it became very obvious to me that God was telling me something in my dreams. I will never forget the very first dream I had, nor the second for that matter. But the first dream was interesting, specifically because it wasn't about me. I had a dream on a Saturday night, about a young man at our church at the time. I won't share the specific dream, but when I walked into church on Sunday, I went right up to that young man and told him how happy I was to see him, and then I proceeded to tell him about my dream. He kind of laughed it off, but the next week, his mother came up to me and told me that my dream really had an affect on him. What I had dreamed about, this young man's actions, was exactly how he was feeling, and he was able to re-think his situation, and find himself in a better position mentally.
I have to admit, that kind of creeped me out at first, that I would have a dream about someone and it would be important to them. And I also didn't think that this dream was anything from God, silly me, at the time I just thought it was a great coincidence. But then a few months later, I was intrigued by a book about dreams, so I picked it up. I learned so much about how God can and does talk to us in our dreams- but there was one constant, that most often, our dreams are really about us. If we have a dream about a neighbor committing murder, that's not necessarily a dream about the neighbor where we need to intervene or talk to them. The biggest thing I learned about dreams is that when you think you've had a dream from God, you need to think about all the pieces and parts, and what they mean to you. Many times, God will also give you a meaning right away, as was the case with the dream I linked to above. Mostly, anyways.
I was excited about learning more about dreams, but the more I tried to pay attention to what I was dreaming, the more frustrated I became. I'd have a dream about a specific place, and that place would hold no meaning or importance. And for a while, I wrote down some of my dreams and possible interpretations. But then, I started thinking that not all of my dreams mean something. That when I have a dream about going to the beach with my family, it was just that, a dream about going to the beach with my family. I have had some dreams about other people that struck me as important, and almost always, in those cases, I wake up praying seriously for that person. I still pray often for a pastor I vaguely know, because I had a dream about snakes in his church. But overall, I think I've become discouraged with the idea of dreaming. Even though I know that God talks to me through dreams, the fact that I was having so many with no idea what they meant was discouraging. And honestly, over the past few months, I've changed up my routine a little bit. Where before I would crawl into bed, talk to God a little, and ask him to show me some dreams, instead I've been crawling into bed tired, talking to God a little, but neglecting to ask for the dreams.
Last night though, I had another dream. I had a dream that I was walking in our backyard, where there was a lovely garden with lots of foliage. I was walking with Zander and Andy's parents, we were talking nicely, enjoying the garden, when suddenly, in the bushes there was a cougar. And the cougar started growling and eyeing us up. I saw him through the bushes, and the second I saw him, he leaped out, aiming for Zander. I placed myself between the cougar and my son, and the cougar jumped on me instead. He kind of gnawed on my arm, but didn't draw blood. He pulled back, and then went for my chest instead. I remember Andy's parents just watching in horror, not knowing what to do, and my determination that no matter what, this cougar was not going to get my son. At that moment, I felt the presence of God on me in my dream, and I commanded the cougar to sit in the name of Jesus. And it did. And then I commanded it to lie down, walk, sit again, much like talking to a dog, and it did all those things. Then we walked away from the cougar like nothing had happened.
It was strange, and I'm still not sure what it means, if much of anything. But I do know this. I am guilty of neglecting my gift. Yesterday at church someone shared with Andy a dream they'd had about our family. And while the dream was encouraging and exciting for us, when Andy shared that with me, I guess I felt a little chagrined. Why had I let the dreaming slide? Why have I stopped asking God for dreams? Maybe I'm a little afraid of what he might tell me, to be honest. But when I hear that someone else had a dream about us, and it really gave us a boost... well, what if I could provide the same boost for other people? I already had one dream one time about someone else- and by sharing it with him, it could have very well made an eternal difference to him. And so I apologize to God. If he wants to talk to me through dreams, I will listen, and I will follow His direction and share them if I need to share them, or treasure them in my heart if they need to be treasured.