I have been thinking a lot about dreams. I'm not talking about daydreams or visionary dreams of our future. I'm talking about the dreams I remember when I am waking up. Sometimes those dreams are just crazy and make no sense at all, but other times, I have very vivid dreams that have an eerie similarity to whatever I am experiencing in my life. Often those dreams are exaggerated forms of what I am going through at the moment.
For example, when I was going through a particularly busy time in my life, I dreamt about not being able to do simple, basic tasks, such as washing dishes. It made me wonder if God was trying to get my attention that my life was so overloaded that I didn't have time for basic things that give my life a healthy rythmn.
Another time, I dreamed that I was constantly running away from a foe. I've since reflected on that, wondering if God was trying to help me understand that my fears had too much control over my life.
So, I'm wondering if I should pay more attention to my dreams. Is God trying to tell me something that I am not slowing down enough to hear any other way? To get my answer, I've been thinking about Joseph from the book of Genesis, who was immortalized for those who don't even read the Bible through Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
I'm wondering what Joseph’s relationship with a couple of prisoners can teach us about dreams. When Joseph was falsly imprisoned, he met two men with a predictament. Let's listen in:
“So [Joseph] asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, 'Why are your faces downcast today?' They said to him, 'We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.' And Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.' Genesis 40:7-8 ESV
For most of us, interpreting dreams is not part of our culture. We may analyze them for their underlying meaning, but most of us would shy away from interpreting someone else’s dream. However, it was common practice in the world that Joseph lived in.
As a boy, it was the interpretation of a dream that got him into trouble with his brothers, and in this situation, Pharaoh’s officers assumed their dreams needed to be interpreted. Later in this narrative, we see that the Pharaoh himself would want someone to interpret his dream, giving Joseph the opportunity to save Egypt and his own family, by relaying God’s message.
The most obvious things we can learn from this passage is that only God knows the future, and God gives us opportunities to point others to him. We just have to look for those openings. Joseph did just that. His response to his fellow prisoners shows that he was always looking for ways to point to God and glorify him, and in this case he could do that by asking God for the interpretation of these dreams.
Joseph trusted God would give him the interpretation to these people’s dreams in order to bring honor to the Lord, which makes me think about interpreting my dreams. Maybe trying to hear God's voice in my dreams has a similar purpose - not to tell the future, but to figure out how to bring honor to God through listening to my dreams. The mere exercise of having to slow down to figure out my dreams may be another tool God can use to make me refect on my life and see how I can honor him more in my life.