"An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” Matthew 2:13
Dreams are the lifeblood of ideas. Before the world began, before there was man and woman and matching his and hers bath towels with monogrammed initials God dreamed of world filled with creatures made in His image.
For some, for the lucky few who see the world in Technicolor rather than shades of gray, God still dispenses dreams. Not the cheap, plastic disposable dreams thrust upon us by the marketing types on Madison Avenue, but the rich and raw and utterly terrifying dreams of the unbridled imagination.
What if the world is not flat? What if man could fly to the moon? What if the dead do not stay dead?
As I read the Christmas story anew I’m struck by the number of dreams God gave to the characters in His story. The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, assuring him that all would be well. And it was. The Magi, having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, went home by another way and lived to boast of the new king they’d found. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his boy to Egypt and later an angel appeared telling him it was okay to return home. Before he reached Judah, however, he was warned in another dream to settle in Nazareth.
God is in the dream business. In fact, it seems that sometimes he does his greatest works through dreams. His dreams are found in Old Testament stories where men of faith built boats in the desert, fathered children in barren wombs and climbed ladders to heaven. We can find God’s dreams within the pages of the New Testament in the letters of saints like Paul, Peter, Stephen, James and John, who gave their lives because of the visions they received from God.
What if this Christmas God gave you a dream instead of a toy fire truck, pair of socks or flat screen TV? What if he gave you a really big, blow you into the fifth dimension dream? Would you shun the dream and wish for cash instead? Would you scoff at the vision?
If Jesus came back on his birthday and asked you to give an account of the dreams you’ve been given would his audit bring visions of sugar plums dancing in your head or the terrifying nightmares of misspent days squandered on the tawdry and cheap daydreams we pass off as the good life?
This Christmas ask God to place His dreams in your heart. He’s in the business of big ideas. And nothing we imagine can come anywhere close to what He has in store for us.
SWEET DREAMS -- SHE SAID
By Cindy Sproles
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." Matthew 2: 13
The phone rang several times. Startled, I sat up straight in the bed. The room was pitch black, and all I could imagine was something must be wrong. I glanced at the clock, 1:10 a.m. March 6, 1997. Groggy and incoherent from sleep I grabbed at the portable. “Hello.” My heart raced as I waited for what had to be bad news. “Hello!”
“I’m fine. It’s time you rested,” a crackled voice squeezed through the static on the line.
A click on line and then nothing. I stood staring at the phone thinking, this is impossible. Dad died a year ago. I’m having a really weird dream. I climbed back in bed and eyed the clock again. March 6, 1997, 1:10 a.m.—one year to the day and time when dad left this earth.
When I woke the next morning, I was clutching the phone in my hand. Dreams are not always joyful. Sometimes, as in my case, they offer us an opportunity to grasp hold of acceptance and move forward. Other times they move us to understanding a situation we may face. Our dreams are our mind’s way of working us through the realizations of life.
Joseph had a few of those dreams—four in fact. The first, a calming dream telling him Mary carried the Son of God. What a way to find out you’re about to be a step-father. But imagine being woken from a deep sleep and told to get up right that minute and flee for your life, someone was trying to kill your child.
I often think we give Joseph too little credit. The focus lends itself to a virgin birth and the gift of eternal life she bore. But Joseph, a noble man, with noble intentions, who’s sleep was interrupted more times than not with bad dreams, saved the life of Christ three times. When he took on the responsibility of fathering the son of God — his dreams were not restful. They were filled with worry, concern and warnings, and Joseph obeyed, protecting the ready-made family he had not asked for.
I imagine Joseph cradled the baby, kissed his forehead and tucked him safely in his bed. Perhaps he whispered, “I love you.” And before he lay down to sleep himself, he might have said, “Sweet dreams,” knowing his own would never be sweet again.
This Christmas as you tuck your little ones in bed and bid them sweet dreams, remember the sacrifices that were made so that you might have hope.
From the Father listen for these words, “Sweet dreams.”
Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles
are friends and co-founders of
co-write the popular He Said, She Said
devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's
Christian Devotions Speak UP! along
with Marianne Jordan.