I have always loved dreaming. No, not daydreaming, although I’ve done my fair share of that (and then some); I’ve always enjoyed dreaming in my sleep. I feel bad for those who don’t remember their dreams and I know one person who swears they never dream. I don’t believe that. I believe all humans dream – heck, we’ve seen evidence that animals dream too.

In my youth I saw a movie called “Dreamscape” starring Dennis Quaid. It was about a man who could enter people’s dreams and help them if they were having nightmares, etc. In one dream, he meets an assassin who has the same ability – entering the dreams of others – and that assassin has been trained in how to manipulate the dreamscape. The assassin can create weapons out of thin air, change the environment, etc. He had full control over the dream because he had realized that changing the dream merely meant changing a thought. That concept stayed with me.

When my youngest son was a toddler, there was a TV show on called, “Bear in the Big Blue House.” It was a great show that taught young children a variety of lessons and one of the shows dealt with nightmares. Bear tried to teach the children how nightmares weren’t real and how, if you just change a thought, you could change the nightmare into something that wasn’t scary.

Another thing I learned about was something called ‘lucid dreaming,’ in which you’re aware that you’re dreaming. Imagine… being in a dream and being aware that it’s a dream… and then add in that ability to control the dream with just a thought. At some point I learned to do this… on occasion. I found myself falling off a cliff in my dream, realized it was a dream and decided instead of falling I’d fly. Off I went, flapping my arms, looking silly, but flying, not falling. It was an awesome experience and one I’ve repeated in my dreams several times now.

One concept of dreaming that I’ve also always found interesting was the Native American belief that when you’re dreaming it’s actually your spirit leaving your body and moving around in different places… sometimes different realities. Imagine being able to visit different realms, different dimensions, different but parallel universes? That was another spectacularly cool thought/outlook I wanted to remember. In my dreams I’ve visited the same place multiple times… and done so with many places. In dreams like that I’ve had glimpses of what life would have been like if a parent hadn’t died yet… or if I’d made a career of the army… or if I’d gone to work for a different police department. The similarities to my reality are uncanny and the differences, while seemingly minor, have such a huge impact.

All of that has driven me to do two things: I always try to remember my dreams. If for no other reason than that I usually find them very enjoyable and entertaining, I always try to remember my dreams. The second thing is that I always try to learn from my dreams if there seems to be a lesson available. In our dreams, as we experience realities different from the one of our waking world, we have the opportunity to learn. Since it’s a dream, and therefore temporary, there’s no real impact on our life unless we take it with us FROM the dream and into our real life. We’d be foolish not to learn from the mistakes we make in our dreams; they are the least hurtful mistakes we can make.

With all of that in mind, I woke up today and remembered a dream I had last night.

– – – – – – – – –

So, last night I had a dream, and as I try to remember all of it, I think I must have fallen asleep thinking about movies, television and God. There were bits and pieces of different movies and television shows and at least two variations of God.

I was sitting in this old, abandoned church. From the outside it looked like the church at the end of the movie “The Rock.” It was the church Nicolas Cage’s character (FBI Agent Daniel Goodspeed) was running out of with the microfilm full of national secrets; the one that had been hidden by Sean Connery’s character (British agent John Mason). Inside that church, it was dilapidated. The paint was peeling off the walls; the stained-glass windows were so dusty as to look fogged over. There were hymnals on the floor… but the alter was in place; the crucifix behind it was still there; and there was a Bible on the podium in the pulpit. It was open but I couldn’t see to what passage.

I was sitting in one of the pews on the right side of the church, looking around and wondering why the church failed. Not “the church” as in all of religion, but that particular church. If the congregation had been supportive or faithful, if the minister had tended to his flock… what would have had to happen for the church to still be in use?

As I sat pondering, God appeared in the pew directly in front of me. He was sitting sideways, his arm on the back of the pew, looking back at me. He was the God from the television show Supernatural. Yes… it was Chuck. Obviously, I was startled, and he chuckled, and then apologized for having startled me. In my dream, I immediately knew it was the personification of God, so I didn’t ask him who he was or how he got there. The conversation that followed went something like this:

I said, “Forgive me for being startled, but I didn’t expect to see you here.”

God asked me, “Where else would you expect to see me?”

Thinking about that for a moment I replied, “Well… everywhere.” I didn’t think it would be possible for God to look confused, but Chuck sure did look like he didn’t understand so I explained what I meant. “All my life I’ve been taught that you’re everywhere; that God exists in all things. So, while we call a church ‘God’s house’ or ‘the house of God,’ I didn’t actually expect to ever have God confront me here in the form of a person.”

“Ah,” he said, smiling. “Now I understand.”

“Why are you here?” I asked. I realized as I asked it that it was both presumptuous and disrespectful to ask God why he was anywhere. He was, after all, God, and could go wherever he pleased.

“I came to answer your question,” he said.

“My question?” I asked. “Lord, which one?” The funny thing was, I didn’t say ‘lord’ as if referring to him, but as a figure of speech, like when you’d say, “Oh, good lord that was funny!”

“Your choice,” he replied. Well, he was right. I had many questions. But which one would you actually ask of God if you had him sitting before you and offering to give you an answer? It took me a minute and then I tried to make sure I worded the question right.

“Lord,” I asked, “the Bible says you created us in your image, yet we are so imperfect; so flawed. Why, in your wisdom, did you create us with so many imperfections and problems?”

He looked like he thought for just a minute, and I realized I hadn’t expected that. What would God need to think about? Doesn’t he know all, and can’t he say everything without giving it a thought? Then I thought that maybe his appearance as a human required him to act like a human as well? At least to some extent?

Then he answered me… kind of.

“First, let me ask you this,” he said. “Have you ever used a xerox machine?”

“You know I have,” I answered with a big smile, trying to make a joke.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” God scolded me. Wow… that hurt. I nodded and then he continued. “You know how if you make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, and you do it enough times, what you end up with doesn’t look much like the original?” I nodded. “That’s kind of how the Bible is in places.” I know I looked confused at that point and I’m glad he explained.

“Think about it,” he said, “Earth is billions of years old but if you read the Bible there’s only a few thousand years of history, right?” I nodded. “So how does billions of years of history get misinterpreted as a few thousand years?”

I thought about that for a second before answering. “I just assumed that the early books of the Bible were man’s attempt to explain something we didn’t understand, and we made plenty of mistakes in the explanation.”

“You’re partially right,” God said, “but the other part of the answer is that every book of the Bible was written in whatever language the author spoke and wrote, taught in a different language, sometimes transcribed and translated into yet another language… and with each variation there were small changes. Several hundred translations and changes later, what you have as The Bible today is a compendium… a mish mash of the original stories along with thousands of observations, thoughts, opinions and more. It’s just not the original work.”

I thought about that and then asked, “So when the Bible says you created us in your image, that’s not what’s really meant?”

He kind of tilted his head as he answered me. “It is and it isn’t. When that particular bit of phrase was written it was longer and carefully worded in an ancient language that barely exists anymore and that no one today could correctly interpret. What was actually said was that I created mankind with the hope that you’d incorporate all of my best qualities.”

I thought about that too and then asked, “But if you say ‘your best qualities,’ that implies you have some qualities that aren’t so great.”

He smiled and said, “We’ll leave that alone for now.” I couldn’t really argue with him. After all, he’s God.

“But that takes me back to my original question then… if you created us to incorporate all your best qualities, why are we so flawed?”

“Because growth is necessary,” he said simply. “In every world I’ve created and in every cognizant species, I’ve observed one thing: If I simply create them without flaw, eventually they become flawed. They don’t know any better so they take for granted how perfect they are, and they assume they can do no wrong. As a result, they gradually grow more and more flawed until, as a species, they fail. But if I create an imperfect species and give them the ability to learn and grow, because of their suffering and mistakes, they learn to appreciate when things go right; they learn to appreciate when things are good.”

In front of my eyes, God changed from Chuck in Supernatural to God in Evan Almighty. There he sat… Morgan Freeman in his white suit. In that deep rhythmic voice, he said, “Let me ask you something… If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If you prayed for courage, does God give you courage? Or does He give you opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love and support one another?”

And then he turned back into Chuck from Supernatural. “The truth is that humans are, hands down, the best species I’ve ever created in that you have the innate ability to learn from your mistakes, appreciate the difference between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, right and wrong and more. Humans are the only species I’ve ever created that can compliment each other, helping each other improve through mutual support and combined thought.” He smiled and then, as if he were actually God/Chuck in Supernatural he said, “Why do you think Sam and Dean are so much better when they’re together and so miserable when they’re apart?” He paused for a moment and then continued, “If there was one thing I’d do different, I’d make you all temper your passions better… maybe focus them differently.”

“Being passionate about things isn’t good?” I asked.

“Not when it drives you to hurt one another,” he answered, and he legitimately looked sad. When he looked at me, I could almost see tears in his eyes. “The harm you all visit on one another, most especially when you do it in My name… any one of the names your species calls me by… it hurts me. There is no good reason for your entire species to not live in harmony except that you don’t know how to temper your passions when it’s necessary.” He paused again, and then almost as if reading my mind he said, “And while I COULD snap my fingers and change that quirk in all of humanity, I don’t want to. I want you all, the entire human race, to learn to do that on your own… and I know you will one day.”

“Speaking of that,” I said, “let me ask you another question…”

“Nope,” he said, cutting me off. “I told you I was here to answer your question… not questions. Enjoy your day!” And with that, he simply disappeared. I looked around, much like Sam and Dean did in all those TV shows when God or an angel would simply vanish. I supposed it was a human reaction to something unexplainable.

I got up and went outside, climbing in the convertible 1950-something car beside my wife. As I turned the key to start the engine, I looked at her and said, “You’re not going to believe who I just met…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *