As the week has continued, the idea of where our dreams come from and how they become something God can use has continued to rattle around in my mind. I'm reminded that sometimes we have to lay down even a dream He's given us in order for Him to give it back to us the way He's planned all along. Exodus 3 and 4 where God tells Moses to throw down his rod speaks to me of this. What was just a stick in Moses' hand became a powerful tool of the Lord when he surrendered it to God and He transformed it. I think God wants to do that for each of us.
But where do those dreams come from to begin with? Following is something I wrote on the subject some time ago:
1 Kings 3 tells the story of Solomon and how the Lord appeared to him in a dream, asking him essentially "What do you want me to give you?" Solomon asked for discernment to judge between good and evil so he could adequately judge God's people.
- Then God said to him: "Because you have asked this thing...see I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor..." Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream."
Have you ever noticed that in that drowsy haze between being asleep and being awake, your deepest thoughts seem to drift to the surface? In the first blush of a new relationship, thoughts of the beloved; in difficult times, your most disturbing troubles; when faced with a new challenge, anxious anticipation.
When unencumbered by the conscious mind that often suppresses our most intense feelings, our subconscious mind lets loose what is hidden in our hearts. As the transition between wakefulness and sleep passes into dreaming, these thoughts often become a mini-drama--color, sound, and motion coming together behind our closed eyes to express our most heart-felt longings and concerns.
I often wish I could attach a recorder of some sort to these thoughts. In that twilight fog, many brilliant lines have been composed, many problems solved, and countless plans devised, only to evaporate with the morning light.
In spite of what we hear to the contrary, in general we can't control our dreams. While they may be based on what has been on our minds or in our hearts, the outcome is not usually something we can manipulate in our sleep.
Have you ever had a dream where someone made you mad or hurt your feelings, and you woke up carrying that feeling around with you? That's an indication to me that while we may provide our subconscious with the subject matter, our dreams can have a life of their own, sometimes expressing what we have buried deep inside.
This is why I am so impressed that Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment when God was there offering to fulfill any desire.
What would you ask for if God offered you anything you desired? Would you ask for long life or riches or protection for those you love? Would you ask for wisdom or a deeper relationship with Him? When your wakeful mind isn't alert to tell you what you should ask for, would your unconscious heart ask for something that would please God?
Psalm 37, a psalm of David tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. Some people have said that this means that if we are seeking the Lord first, our desires will conform to His.
I like to think that it actually means that God places the desires there to begin with with. It's not just that He will grant them, like a genie giving us our "three wishes."
But either way, at the center of having a heart like Solomon's, a heart that seeks Godly wisdom even in sleep, is seeking first after God. And as Matthew 6:33 tells us, as we do seek him, "all these things shall be added to you." Just like Solomon, God promises you and me that seeking after Him with our whole heart will open the doors of His grace to us.
These are light, crisp cookies that are easy to prepare--and the recipe requires no eggs. Serve these when you need a reminder that God wants to give us the desires of our heart--we just need to seek him wholeheartedly.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, soft but not melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp orange or almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
blanched almonds--halves or slivers
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In medium bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture until well blended and smooth.
If dough is too sticky or soft to handle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour, or until dough is firm.
Form dough into 1-inch balls, about 1/2 tablespoon of batter each. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, leaving room for cookies to spread.
Press almond half (or sliver) into top of each ball, flattening it slightly. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Almond cookie photo courtesy Land O Lakes.
Devotion and recipe originally published in Tea and Inspiration, copyright 1995, Mary Pielenz Hampton, all rights reserved.