Do nightmares have meaning?

20 Jul

 As a child I had recurring nightmares — and they terrified me.

 I remember one frightening experience that came back to haunt me time and again.

We lived in Bridge City, Texas. We had a milk cow, Susie, and I was with my older brother as he stacked fence posts in the pasture. I began teasing Susie and eventually she began chasing me. I ran and ran all around the area in which my brother was working and screaming, “Brother! Brother!” Eventually, Brother took a fence post and clobbered Susie right in the face. That stopped her — but not in my dreams.

• As a family we used to go to Joe Bailey’s fish camp on Lake Sabine between Orange City and Port Arthur, Texas. There was this long wooden wharf reaching out into the lake andat on point it was far above the sand. Susie was chasing me down the beach and I jumped up and grabbed the wharf, managing to hang on by my finger tips. Susie was below glaring up at me and shaking her head menacingly. I kept screaming for help as I lost purchase one finger at a time. Then I fell – and landed in my father’s arms.

 • There was this dragon or monster or some horrible creature that chased me down the road in front of my grandparents’ home. The fastest I ran the slower I went with this monstrosity roaring and trying to catch me. Finally, I would awaken, trembling and sobbing.

I’ve never before thought of these nightmares as having any kind of relevance or meaning.

 Now, as I look back to the 1930s from 2012 and with a mature perspective of faith, I see a spiritual message:

 • Susie and the dragon are one and the same – whatever threatens my sense of security and Satan himself.

 • My brother is first of all Jesus who saves me from eternal death; second, my brother is my community of faith, my wife, the men in Bible study, my fellow ministers and all people of faith.

 • And my father? Who else but the Father of us all? The Father who sent Jesus to save us.
Of course back when I was a child those recurring nightmares meant nothing to me but terror – and the ultimate comfort found in my parents’ arms.

 And, since I’m still growing, I can’t help but wonder whether there is still another message that will eventually emerge from the depths of my subconscious and the light of logic.

Could it be that the monster is still after me, that I need my Father and Brother more than ever before?
Is God still speaking to me in those terrible dreams?

 Speak, Lord, your servant is listening (See 1 Sm 3:1-10).


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