Tag Archives: visions

A tale of two young women

Today is my little girl’s birthday. Only, she’s not a little girl any more. She’s a young woman, a year away from university graduation. Two days ago a young man asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

Bethany’s birthday is one day before mine, and I remember thinking when she was born that by the time she was grown up I would be sixty. At the time, that seemed an impossibly long time in the future, but here we are. I turn sixty-one tomorrow, and Bethany is now twenty-two years old, and looking forward to a wedding.

The engagement was not a surprise; Marion and I have known for months that this day would be coming soon, and we are delighted. Still, Bethany’s engagement is a sign of the shifting of the seasons. She is the youngest of my children, my only daughter, the only one of our children who still lives with us, and the last to get married. Soon the transition to the next generation will be complete.

A few weeks ago, my oldest granddaughter turned five. Although Marion and I weren’t able to make the trip to Kansas City for her birthday, we Skyped as she was opening some of her presents. She had been excited about her birthday for weeks in advance, and as young children tend to do, she was fully enjoying the moment.

A couple of days after Sophie’s birthday, I had a very significant dream. I had been reading Song of Songs every day for several weeks, seeking to appropriate the rich Biblical metaphor of the love relationship between Jesus and his bride. As a male, I used to find this image hard to relate to, but having a daughter who loves weddings has helped to change my perspective. God used a dream to open up this profound truth for me in a fresh way.

The dream featured two young women – my five year old granddaughter and my twenty-one year old daughter. I knew that God was using them to speak to me about my own life, and the life of every believer in Jesus.

In Scene One, I saw an image of Sophie on her birthday. She was fully occupied with her gifts and was delighting in the pleasures of a happy childhood. The scene then shifted to an image of Bethany. At the time that I had this dream, she was not yet engaged, but somehow I knew that she was thinking about her upcoming wedding.

As I considered the fact that Bethany would soon be married, I began thinking about my own marriage, and about Jesus’ teaching that there would be no marriage at the resurrection. This has always seemed odd to me. I have been married to the same woman for almost thirty-eight years now. What will it be like to meet her at the resurrection and no longer be married to her?

Then I woke up. When I asked the Spirit about the dream, this is what He showed me.

Sophie is going to grow up and become an adult, but at the moment she could not even begin to comprehend the various issues and realities that she will deal with as an adult. She is fully occupied with being a child. She may believe that she will become an adult, but she has almost no conception of what this will be like. Although she may imagine it at times, and imitate her Mom, her imaginary games are far from the reality.

Bethany has been coming to understand some of the realities of adulthood over the past few years. She loves little children, she enjoys playing with Sophie, and she can still enjoy the memory of being five, but she has no desire to go back. She is looking forward to a wedding and the life of a bride that will follow, and that is her focus now, not her former life as a five year old.

In the same way, it seems strange to you now to think that in the age to come, there will be no marriage as we know it now. You know you are the bride of Christ but it is hard for you to imagine what this will be like. The present reality of marriage is only an analogy for what is to come – a dim image, a shadow. It is important now, just as Sophie’s five year old life is important to her now, but in the future it will be only a memory. Right now you cannot really imagine the marriage supper of the Lamb, or life in the age to come, though you believe these things are coming. But when you get there, you will look back and remember what it was like in this age, but you will have absolutely no regrets. Press on for the hope of your calling.

This dream has had a powerful motivating impact on me over the last few weeks. It has helped me keep my focus on what God has in store, not only in this age but in the age to come. If our horizon is limited to this life, it is hard to stay motivated as we grow older because pain and death are all we have to look forward to. But God has made us for eternity. What we see now is only a shadow of what is to come. Our hope is not that we are going to heaven. Of course if we die before Jesus returns, we will be with Him while we are waiting, but our hope is far better than that. Our hope is that He will return to restore all things, and that we will live with Him on a fully renewed earth.

These things are hard for us to grasp fully. Like five-year-old Sophie pretending to be a grownup and imagining her own wedding, we have only glimpses of what it will be like. It is natural that our life in this age is important to us now, as Sophie’s five-year-old life is important to her now. God wants us to live that life to the full, but it is not all there is. He has much bigger and more glorious things in store for us in the age to come.


St Patrick and the Holy Spirit

Tomorrow, of course, is St Patrick’s Day. It’s a day of partying for people of Irish extraction and those who wish they were.

But how many of the people celebrating their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s day have any idea what kind of man he was?

Patrick was a great leader, a man of influence. Having been carried off by a raiding party to Ireland in his youth and forced into slavery, Patrick eventually learned to love and forgive his captors. In the course of time, God prepared him as an instrument of His mercy and sent Patrick back to the land where he had been carried off into slavery. His purpose in returning to the land of his captivity was to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he pursued this mission with great energy, creativity and perseverance.

Patrick was also a man of prayer, who had many powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit. He believed that God speaks through dreams and visions, and experienced many such encounters in his own life.

I mention this last factoid because of my own recent experience with the Holy Spirit, and in particular with dreams and visions.

I was raised in a skeptical, rational environment in which I was taught to believe that whatever cannot be proven or explained rationally is not real. I am grateful to God for giving me the capacity for analytical and rational thought. Among other things, it is responsible for my success in my current line of work as an information technology professional. I have an inquiring mind and derive satisfaction from understanding the mysteries of life.

To some extent, this thirst for understanding can be pursued by human reason. And yet, at an early age I was introduced to realities that cannot be understood or explained by human reason alone. As a child, growing up in a small town in Northern Quebec, I spent many hours outdoors in God’s creation and was in awe of the hills, the rocks, the great blue sky, the trees, the snow in winter and the heat in summer, the great Gulf of St Lawrence that was not far from my door, and all the other wonders of the created world that was so much bigger than I was.

I was also introduced to the message of Jesus, and there came a point in my life where I became convinced that this Jesus was not just a historical figure but the Lord of the universe, who came to earth to save lost humanity. I now know Jesus as the One who died for me, who rose for me, who reigns now from His heavenly throne and who is coming again as King to reign openly on earth.

I also know Him as the One who pours out His Holy Spirit on those who seek Him. It was a struggle for me to yield to the Holy Spirit. I was afraid of losing control. However, a wise friend reassured me by pointing me to the words of Jesus that God only gives good gifts, and that the Holy Spirit is the best gift of all – and so I yielded my life to Jesus and welcomed the power of the Holy Spirit, although there was much I did not understand.

Among the things I know to be true, but cannot explain rationally, is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This comes in many forms, but one of those forms is dreams and visions. In an article that I read recently by Will Graham on St Patrick, I was struck by the prominence of this aspect of St. Patrick’s experience with the Holy Spirit.

The belief that God guides his people through dreams and visions is entirely Biblical. There are hundreds of examples of this in both Old and New Testaments. Guidance and revelation by means of dreams and visions featured prominently in the lives of the apostles and have been part of the experience of God’s people down through the ages. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, the Apostle Peter explained the event by quoting a prophecy from the Book of Joel which specifically mentioned that in the last days, when God poured out the Holy Spirit, dreams and visions would become common. 

In my own life, although I have never stopped being a rational and analytical thinker, I have come a long way from my earlier skepticism about supernatural experiences, so much so that I now consider such experiences to be a normal part of my daily life. This does not mean that I have stopped reading or studying my Bible. On the contrary, I find that my study of the Scriptures has been greatly enriched by my experiences with the Holy Spirit, and I have an increasing desire to know God by all possible means – among which His written word will always be primary.

In recent months God has been speaking to me quite frequently and powerfully through dreams. Some of the dreams contain guidance for my own life, but others have a much wider application. One of my recent dreams gave significant insight about a major Biblical theme – the meaning of the Bride of Christ and the relationship between this present age and the Age to Come. I plan to share this dream and its meaning in a future post. For now, if the idea that God speaks through dreams and visions is new to you, I would simply encourage you to open yourself to this refreshing possibility. Ask the Lord to speak to you, and trust Him to interpret what He shows you. To those who approach Him with humility and an expectant heart, God is always faithful and true to His promise. Jesus is preparing His bride, and dreams and visions are one of His chosen instruments, as our brother St Patrick also discovered so many centuries ago.




The man in white

From Iran, with all its turmoil, unrest and repression, comes this amazing story. The story is not unique – there are many like it – but it is so wonderful that it’s well worth repeating. Joel Richardson of Kansas City, who has been involved in ministry to Muslims for many years, heard this account from a friend of his – we’ll call him Ali – who is an underground church planter in Iran.

Ali had learned that in a remote Iranian village, a man had become a believer in Jesus even though there were no other known Christ followers in his village. Wanting to find out how this man had come to believe in Jesus, Ali travelled to the village to meet with the man. The villager related how he had been visited by a figure wearing a white robe, with shoulder-length hair and a very commanding presence. The unknown man in white spoke at length to the villager and told him to write down his words. The villager agreed. The message spoken by the man in white convinced this villager to become a believer in Jesus, even though there were no other Christians in his village.

After hearing the villager’s story, Ali asked him if he could see the words that had convinced him to become a Christian. The villager showed Ali a large journal in which he had written down all the words spoken by the man in white.  It was written in Farsi, but the English translation of the first line began with these words :

In the beginning was the word. The word was with God, and the word was God

The villager who had become a Christian was holding in his hands a hand written copy of the entire Gospel of John which he had transcribed into his journal. He told Ali that the man in white had related these words to him, verbatim.

How amazing is that? Even a tyrannical Islamic regime cannot prevent the good news of Jesus from being revealed to hungry hearts. Stories like this one motivate me to pray, for surely it is the prayers of God’s people that move His heart to send messengers to the lost.

Joel Richardson comments that such stories are actually quite common in Iran, where many new believers are coming to faith through divine encounters, dreams and visions.



My little girl – all grown up

My daughter – the baby of our family – turned eighteen last week.  She was born the day before my thirty-ninth birthday.  I remember thinking, shortly after she was born, that by the time she turned twenty I would be almost sixty years old.  I found that hard to imagine at the time, but here we are, eighteen years later, and my little girl is legally an adult, almost done high school and ready to enter university.  She plans to become a social worker. She also senses (because of several words of prophecy and a dream God has put in her heart) that someday she may travel to Spain, possibly in the context of some form of missionary work. In addition, she wants to marry young, have at least four and possibly as many as six children, and live in a large house in the country where she and her husband-to-be can offer hospitality and welcome people in need of love and community. We are praying for a husband with a large capacity for faith and a generous spirit 🙂

My four children are very different from one another in gifting and personality, but they all have dreams. I hope they always do. Life without dreams and visions is hardly not worth living. Bethany has a generous and sensitive heart, is very idealistic, and is highly motivated to serve. As for me, I am highly motivated to help all my children succeed, so (if asked) I will offer advice on how she might plan and prepare to see a specific dream become reality, including possible roadblocks that she might want to consider and prepare for. I have to be careful, though, that in attempting to help her anticipate and be prepared for possible obstacles, I don’t become the one to squash her dreams. The Devil is very skilled at doing that, and he doesn’t need my help.

Like every young person with a vision, Bethany will undoubtedly go through some painful struggles along the road to her dreams – in fact she already has. One of the lessons I have learned as a parent is that while I want to support and encourage my children, I can’t – and shouldn’t – shelter them from all disappointments, heartaches and struggles. Instead, I want to do what I can to prepare them not to be disillusioned or overcome when trials occur, but to stand on God’s promises, knock on the door of heaven with persevering faith, and learn to be overcomers. Sometimes being an overcomer means accepting some adjustments to our dreams. It may even mean holding on to God when it seems that a dream that was precious to us has been totally crushed. It should never involve giving up the capacity or the faith to believe God for new things. God is able to restore broken dreams and broken hearts.

The apostle John, who was Jesus’ best and most intimate friend during his earthly ministry, wrote a letter in his old age to several of the Christian fellowships that he had founded and to which he still gave oversight. Tucked away in this letter are comments addressed to three groups of people : little children (those who are young in the faith), young men (those who are on the way to maturity) and fathers (those who have been following Christ for a long time). I love what he says about those he calls fathers. He says that they have known him who is from the beginning. In other words, their relationship with God has some depth to it. They know Christ not just as their personal Saviour and the One who washed away their sins, but as the One who is before all things and in whom all things hold together; the One who is both First and Last; the One who is coming to overthrow evil, to renew all things, and to establish an eternal Kingdom that can never be shaken.

That’s the kind of faith I want for my children. Although this blog post has focussed mostly on my little girl, now all grown up, all my children are equally precious to me.  Joe, Simeon, Reuben and Bethany are all wonderful children – the best a parent could ask for.  They are also very different from one another in many ways. They have different gifts, different personalities, different goals. They do, however, have something in common: they were all made in God’s image and He holds the key to their destiny. This life is short (the older I get, the  more I know it) and eternity is long. I want my children to be blessed in this life, but above all I want them to remember Who made them, which Kingdom they belong to, what they were made for and where they are headed. If they do, whether their lives on earth are long or short, easy or hard, they will be conquerors in this life and the next, and they will arrive at the threshold of eternity with no regrets.