Dori woke up with a jerk in a cold sweat. She couldn’t move from paralyzing fear. Her mind raced. What was the dream again? Oh yes. The familiar nightmare – she was running away and a nebulous someone was chasing her. She’d go a year or so without the bad dream, but lately, it was much more often, nearly once a month. What had changed? She hated this paralyzing feeling when she woke up. She didn’t believe in the boogie man, but she just knew if she moved, she’d die. Maybe it was devil after her in her dream. She didn’t know. It was a ridiculous fear, but it was there. She prayed in her heart. Lord, please take this nightmare from me and give me good and pleasant dreams. The prayer had worked when she was a child, maybe it would again.
She finally rolled out of bed and went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. She heard Sam padding behind her. Sam, her faithful tan-colored cocker spaniel was only about six years old. She wasn’t sure about his age, as he’d had no papers when she’d adopted him from Cocker Rescue. Behind him was Randy, her husband of ten years.
“Is everything all right, dear?” Randy came up behind her and put his arms around her waist.
She put one hand over his, reaching for the refrigerator door with the other. “I’m all right. It’s just the nightmare again.”
“You’re having those more frequently, aren’t you?” He squeezed a bit tighter.
“Yes, unfortunately. It’s almost like clockwork. Once a month, whereas before, it was only about once a year.”
Randy released her, and flipped on the kitchen lights. “Hey Sam, wanna go out?” Sam was already at the back door. Randy opened the door, let the dog out, and turned back to Dori.
“Tell me about it again. I think it would be helpful to talk about it, don’t you?” He sat on one of the barstools at the counter.
“Would you like water, too?” Dori poured herself a tall glass, then put ice in it. If ice wasn’t in it, it wasn’t cold enough for her.
“No thanks, hon. Wanna talk?” He let Sam back in, then sat in his designated barstool. Sam went back towards the bedroom, where his bed was.
She joined Randy at the counter and sat in the next barstool, releasing a long breath.
“Sure. Why not? Even though I’ve talked about it over and over, it scares me, I don’t know why. But no one, no dream interpreter seems to be able to tell me what it means.”
“You’ve asked for interpretations? Who from?”
“Oh, pastors, counselors and psychologists. It’s all the same. They think I’m sexually repressed since girlhood. It’s ridiculous. I’m happily married to the most wonderful man on earth. How could I be repressed?”
Randy snorted, but gave her kiss on the top of her head. “They base their interpretations on Sigmund Freud, right?”
Dori released a breath. “Yeah, him and Carl Jung. Isn’t there anyone out there who can interpret dreams like Joseph and Daniel? And speaking of which, how did they know what those dreams meant?”
Randy rubbed his chin a moment. “Hmmmm. I think it has to do with understanding metaphors. I heard that once. This means that sort of thing.”
Dori nodded. “You know, I think you’re right. Do you think you and I could do this together? I’ve prayed and asked the Lord so many times what this dream means, and I’ve never felt I got an answer.”
“I think we can. Tell me the dream again.”
“It’s always the same. I’m in a forest. It’s getting dark. Someone is chasing me. I run. Sometimes, in the dream, I fall over a tree branch or a rock. But each time I dream it, whoever is chasing me gets closer and closer. I never see him, but I know he’s there. He frightens me. I don’t know why.”
“Was it the same tonight?” Randy leaned forward and took her hand.
“It’s always the same.” Dori cocked her head to one side. “But tonight, I almost saw who was chasing me.”
“What did you sense about him?”
“I only got a glimpse, but he seemed ghostly and without form.”
“Really? What else can you remember?”
“Why are you frightened of him? Why don’t you just let him catch up with you, have it out with him – in the dream? Wouldn’t that take care of it?”
Dori shook her head with a derisive laugh. “Yeah right. I’m afraid the guy might kill me.”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, let’s see what we’ve got here. You’re in a forest. You’re running away from a white, ghostly type figure that seems to be chasing you. He’s not running, but you are. Sometimes you trip and fall. Does that about cover it?”
“Yep, I think so.”
“Okay, let’s figure out what a forest is, and see what in your life it might refer to. What’s in a forest?”
“All right. What might trees represent?”
“People? But what kind of people? And why would I trip on a branch?”
“I don’t know yet. Why are you running? Do you have any idea why you’re running?”
Dori squeezed her eyes shut and didn’t answer. “I’m thinking.” A memory came. “Oh! I just remembered. I hardly ever dream it this way, but one of the first times, I remember the man asking me something.”
“Do you remember what? I think it might be important.”
Dori was silent again. She shut her eyes and lowered her head, as if in prayer, but she was trying to remember. A picture came. She gasped.
“Dori, will you do this? Will you do this for me?” The man with large hazel eyes looked intently into hers. The intensity of his gaze seemed to drill right through her. It terrified her. She turned away and began to run. She’d look back occasionally, but he would always be there, following her at a steady, even pace. Sometimes, when she looked back, she’d trip or fall, but she always quickly rose and continued to run.
Randy squeezed her hand. “What? What is it you remember?”
Dori opened her eyes and looked into Randy’s gentle blues. “I – I think I’m running from God!”
“Why do you think that? How do you know?”
“He – he asked me to do something, but I didn’t want to do it.”
“Why do you think it’s God you’re running from? What makes you think so?”
Another memory hit her. “You know that girl, Akianna – or Akiene? The one who had never heard the Gospel, living in a communist country, and she began painting the face of Jesus and other heavenly visions? The ghostly man in white in my dream – looked like her picture.”
The gravity of it hit her. “Oh no! How could I do that? How could I run from the One I love even more than I love you, dear Randy?”
Her husband slid off the barstool and released her hand just long enough to put his arms around her. “It’s going to be all right. Tell me everything.”
Dori snuggled into Randy’s arms and let his warmth soothe her soul and spirit. She closed her eyes and again let the dream come back to her. The earliest dream, the one she’d forgotten. The one before she started to run.
“Are you willing to be a fool for me? Are you willing to take up your cross and follow me? Do you want to help others in ways that only you can? You’ve given your spirit to me, and I am in you, but I need your total surrender in order to do the things I’ve called you to do. But are you willing?”
“I – I don’t know, Lord. I’m scared. I don’t think I can do this.”
He sat on a large rock at the edge of the forest. She stood just a few feet away, kicking her shoes in the dirt, looking at the ground.
She felt something wilt within her. She jerked up and saw his eyes droop and his shoulders slump.
“I’m – I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t do this.” She turned and ran. Tears ran down her cheeks as she knew she had just broken her Lord’s heart.
She sobbed uncontrollably. “Ooohhhhhh, Randy! I did! I ran away from Jesus. I broke His heart, but He is still pursuing me. What will I do?”
Randy squeezed tighter. “What do you want to do?”
“I want these nightmares to stop.”
“Then stop running from God.”
“How do I do that?”
“Just tell Him, my dear. Let’s pray, shall we?”
“You want to start or finish?”
“I’ll start. You finish.”
Randy let go a little, but kept one arm around her. “Heavenly Father, my precious wife Dori, has been running from You for a long time. We thank You that You haven’t given up on her and continue to pursue her in a loving and non-threatening way. I ask You, Lord, to pour out Your love upon her and let her know it’s not too late to follow Your plans and purposes for her life. In Jesus’ name.”
Dori took a deep breath and let it out slow. She took another one and let it out slower. “Lord, I surrender. Please forgive me for running from You. Whatever You want, that’s what I want. Whatever You ask, I will do. All that I am and have belongs to You. Thank You for continuing to trail me until tonight. Thank You for Your patience. You’ve been after me a long time, haven’t you? I’m sorry I ran. I am in Your hands, O Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.”
A strong, heavy peace settled over Dori like a warm blanket. It was like Randy’s arms had completely enveloped her, but even more so. She relaxed into it and found Randy was carrying her back to bed. The warmth, the love, the peace she felt from not only her husband, but from her Lord, was all consuming. She never wanted the feeling to end. And to think, a dream she thought was a nightmare started it all.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: It is possible to interpret dreams and understand dream metaphors from a biblical point of view. I’ve done it. Here’s Akiane’s website. The link is http://www.akiane.com – check her out. She has amazing paintings. Colton Burpo, the little boy from Heaven is For Real, saw Akiene’s painting and said that’s who he saw as well. He’d looked at many historical renderings of Jesus, and said this was the only one that looked like who he saw.
© Donna L.H. Smith 2014