I’ve never been into interpreting my dreams. That’s because most of the time they are sheer nonsense – a sequence of confused and bizarre images. First I’m riding bareback on small pony, which actually turns out to be my scooter. I turn to my left and see that my dad is on a scooter next to me, and he’s wearing a sleeveless leather vest and leather chaps. The next thing I know I’m on a walk with my wife, and we’re being chased by wild pigeons with unusually large talons. We run, but the faster we run the slower we move. It’s like we’re in quicksand. The birds begin to attack and…I wake up. You get the point. My dreams are usually a bunch of nonsense, not worthy of a second thought.
Perhaps I should give some of my dreams a second thought. Listen to these words by Ed Welch from the book Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest:
Do you have any fear and anxiety dreams?…The content can be silly and inscrutable, but listen for the emotional tone of your dreams. What do they feel like? Being pursued? Missing deadlines? Spinning endless plates? Being exposed and embarrassed? Keep track of them and in the course of a week you will hear them speak: “I am afraid,” “I am anxious,” “I’m feeling pressure.”
Welch’s words struck a chord with me. I do have fear and anxiety dreams. On a semi-regular basis I have a dream that it’s Sunday morning and I’m supposed to lead worship. Church starts in ten minutes and I’m not even close to being ready. I don’t have songs picked out. I don’t know how I’m going to encourage the church. The band hasn’t even had a chance to practice. Things are spinning hopelessly out of my control, and it’s looking like Sunday morning is going to be a disaster. I usually wake up with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
What does this dream say about me? Is it just my imagination running wild, or does it really say something about the state of my soul?
This dream does in fact say something about the sinful cravings of my heart. It points to my self-sufficiency and desire for the approval of others. The truth is, there are some Sunday mornings where I really do feel anxious about how things will go. I want the band to play well, and I want to share some profound scriptural truth with the congregation that causes them to fall on their faces and cry ‘Holy!’. When things don’t go well in practice before church, I get anxious. I try to pull the band together by sheer determination. I try to exhort the church with extra energy, as if my words can create genuine worship in people. Instead of relying on God to meet his people during worship, I rely on myself to play well and lead well. Instead of caring solely about the glory of God, I want people to think that I’m an incredible worship leader. My Sunday morning dream helps me see what is truly going on in my heart on a real Sunday morning.
This is new stuff for me. I need to give some more thought to my self-sufficiency and anxiety. But I’m grateful for Ed Welch, and grateful to God that he wants to set me free from fear. Just so I’m clear, I don’t think we should analyze every single dream we have, digging deep into our psyche to discover our hidden desires. But I know that I struggle with anxiety and self-sufficiency on a regular basis, and so I at least want to give some thought to dreams that fit this category.
What do your dreams say about you? Do you have any dreams that reveal fears, cravings, or worries?