Why Do We Dream?
By David Brandt Berg
I was wondering why I have so many of these odd dreams that I can only vaguely remember and that seem to be virtually meaningless. They’re not revelations from God or anything, but they’re story dreams; they go on and on and keep my mind busy. I was thinking about it, and a thought came to me: Our immortal spirits don’t need sleep. I’d never thought of that before. While our physical bodies are resting, our spirits need to be kept busy, so the Lord lets them travel and have all kinds of experiences. Our spirits are learning in our sleep—even making decisions and choices!
Although our dreams may not always seem to have any relation to our physical lives, the things we experience in our dreams instruct and enlighten our spirits, even while our bodies are asleep. Although our conscious minds may not grasp the meaning of all those experiences, our spirits are learning, so it’s not without purpose or meaning.
The Lord also tests us in our sleep. He puts our spirits through experiences and lessons, and He also tests us. He gives us examinations, just like in school. That may be why we sometimes have nightmares: While our bodies sleep, our spirits are battling spiritual forces. I think the Lord allows that to see what we will do, and what effect it will have on us, whether or not we will make the right decisions, and whether or not we will call on Him for help.
That’s what came to me when I was wondering why we have dreams that don’t seem to have any particular significance or meaning, and yet we remember at least parts of them. Those dreams enlighten our spirits, even though we may not grasp the meaning with our conscious minds.
Our conscious minds are not always entirely aware of our dreams, but sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of those spiritual experiences and remember them. They’re retained in our memory just long enough that when we wake up, we still remember scenes and fleeting glimpses of what our spirit was experiencing. It’s almost like seeing a ghost; it appears and then suddenly vanishes, like faint memories of the past.
The Lord is merciful to us in that we’re mostly only conscious of the present. We’ve got enough problems to take care of today, without vividly reliving experiences of the past or taking trips into the future. So the Lord is good to us by helping us forget the past and not know too much about the future. We can thank the Lord for that!
Some people seem to have a stronger spiritual consciousness than others, and are able to translate their dreams from the spiritual realm to the physical, from their subconscious to their conscious mind, so that they can remember them. I remember lots of dreams very vividly, even though sometimes they seem to have no particular significance or meaning.
Actually, nothing is ever lost to the subconscious mind. Our subconscious minds are always thinking, and that’s where everything is registered permanently. Our subconscious minds—our spirits, in other words—remember everything.
It’s a gift, in a sense, to remember the good things we experience in our dreams, but it’s also undoubtedly a blessing that we don’t remember everything that happens in our sleep. It would be too much of a strain for our minds to be burdened with all that, when we have the present to worry about. Most of us have got enough to think about today!
With those dreams—I think I would call them “learning dreams”—we don’t necessarily have to remember them all, because they’re designed and intended to enlighten, to teach our spirits. On the other hand, when we’re faced with having to make a decision when we’re awake that we have already encountered in a dream, we are probably more likely to make the right one because we have learned that lesson while we were sleeping. I believe it!
Thank God for dreams! They’re part of our spiritual education, as well as divine guidance in the physical if the Lord knows that we need to remember and apply them for some reason. But we’ve got enough to think about as we go about our daily activities without having to think about and relive these spirit trips in our waking hours. If we did, we’d wind up living in a dream world. We’d become so spiritually minded that we wouldn’t be any earthly good!
“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then [God] opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction” (Job 33:15-16).
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