Read this powerful story of how “The World of Dreams and Visions” was opened as a result of completing this course (even though Rev. Swanepoel already valued dreams and believed they provide revelation).
By Rudolf Swanepoel, Senior Pastor of The Cross Community Church in Elyria, Ohio
Final paper for the Christian Leadership University course
REN510 Wisdom Through Dream Interpretation
(Also available through CLU School of the Spirit as Hear God Through Your Dreams)
I have chosen this title for the paper carefully and purposefully. Dreams have always been fascinating to me. My childhood years in South Africa exposed me to the relevance and even importance of dreams through various encounters. Some of these moments were personal and others hearsay, but looking back I now see the Lord’s molding and strong hand in those pivotal moments of my life. It opened my life to a whole world I never really knew existed.
My early childhood years
I was called a dreamer many times. I remember having the most wonderful times playing hours all alone, wrapped up in my own little world. Given the choice to play with friends or alone, I’d always choose the latter. There in my own world of imagination, dreams and even what I know now to be visions, I could experience the presence of the Lord. He would come and play with me. I sensed His peace as my little army of plastic soldiers took on the bad guys of the world. His angels were involved in the epic battles to regain Christian supremacy in the rose garden behind our house. I was made aware of this world early in my life, only to have it replaced by a cold rational and analytical approach to everything. The symbolic language of the little boy simply had to make way for the educated voice of someone who should always show his rational explanation in every situation. The world of dreams made way for a much more shallow realm of existence. God was still a big part of it, but now I no longer understood His ways as I did before. Angels vanished from the scene and the only accepted way of communicating with God was through prayer. He would speak to me through the Bible and I could tell Him how I felt through prayer.
The moment I stepped into a classroom at school the immature dreamer boy had to make way for a formally educated man in the working. The boyish language of dreams and imagination were pushed aside and even branded as a non-educational and intrusive language that could not be trusted as a valid source of gaining knowledge. I remember my brother taking naps every day because he loved to dream. I on the other hand refused to sleep during the day. (I even find it hard to do today.) I simply had to work on the manly educated part of my existence.
The door to the world of dreams and visions was closed and sealed for almost 12 years of my life. It was opened again, almost as subtly as it was closed. It forced its way open into the life of a busy, traditional, Pentecostal preacher. My faith was solidly based on pragmatically correct information I gathered over the years of serving Him. My knowledge of the Divinity was based on a historically, biblically correct interpretation of the lives He touched in ancient times. I was open to the possibility for the Lord to speak and instruct people through dreams and never really gave it much thought as to why I was not experiencing God in my dreams. I cannot really say that I dreamed much back then. At least I did not remember any of the dreams I must have dreamed.
The Lord gave me a wonderful wife that remembers most of her dreams. She usually tells me of more than one dream she remembers on any given night. Some are as weird as they come. Others made more sense to me. One day Sharon had a dream about three snakes that bit her. The last one bit her right in the face and the dream bothered her a lot. We prayed over it and went about our daily tasks. The next Sunday, we had a special speaker at our church. He quoted a few verses from the book of Amos that sounded remarkably similar to Sharons dream. Neither she nor I ever remembered ever reading those verses. It was an important lesson the Lord gave me, bringing me back into the world of dreams and visions.
Within a few days three things happened that really hurt both of us. I remember the day of the third bite, as we refer to it today; we were falsely accused of something and were threatened with police actions and the like. The Lord supplied me with evidence to prove our innocence. Someone was writing letters of anonymity to me. The letters were largely encouraging. Usually I would never even read such letters. I always look for a name before reading. If the writer did not sign his name, then his message to me was not important enough to spend my time on. This time I kept one of the letters. That little piece of paper I was carrying around in my planner for no apparent reason proved to be the deciding factor in this whole ordeal. The same person was writing letters to a very influential pastor and he became convinced that we were the source of the letters. Apparently his letters were not as encouraging as mine. My heart made me keep that letter and I was able to produce it to prove our innocence. As I stepped into my car, relishing the feeling of true innocence and thanking the Lord for that paper, it struck me. Sharon’s dream played out before me and suddenly made sense. I called her and said: Honey, the third snake just bit us.
From that day the Lord refocused my attention to the world of dreams. He allowed me to regain what I lost many years ago. Remarkably He also started teaching me the language I knew so well as a boy playing in that rose garden. The pictures and symbols once again started to come alive and it felt as if I found a whole uncontaminated world filled with God and ready to be explored.
Today Sharon refers to me as her personal Joseph. Actually she has become an avid interpreter of dreams herself. In our journey through the world of dreams together, I found that as we grow in experience the Lord gives both of us more complex and deeper prophetic dreams. Ones that were beyond our comprehension in the past, breaks open when we revisit them. Our journey through the world of dreams is now in its second decade and the adventure is just as fresh and real as the day we started.
Over the past 5 years or so, people have been coming to us in more regularity asking us to speak about, pray over and interpret their dreams. We have assumed a very cautious posture in this because we felt like we were in uncharted territory. The immense expanse of the world of dreams can be compared to the universe and I felt like we have not even left the planet earth in our explorations. Yet, the Lord helped us and we saw many aha moments on the faces of people. When we are positioned to speak into the lives of people we should do so with the utmost care and realization of the huge responsibility we have towards them. Ministry is extremely powerful and can cause tremendous good and much harm. It is much like a knife. It is useful for so many things, but in the wrong hands it can cause deep wounds and even death.
What have I learned about myself during this course?
Being trained to be an analytical person, it is sometimes hard to focus on the intuitive part in me. My life has been dominated by left brain function so long that right brain functions have grown used to taking the back seat, especially in decision making and the more important things in life.
I have learned that a simple adjustment in attitude and focus will magnify my recollection and memories concerning my dreams. Since the first week of taking this course I have remembered my dreams with regularity. One thing I have been guilty of is to take my dreams for granted. Through this course I learned how valuable it is to regard them as very important in my life not just in general terms, but each one individually and on a daily basis.
I have gained a wealth of understanding in the area of dream interpretation. I now understand why I have done certain things in the past when it came to dream interpretation. I have unknowingly followed many of the principles set out in this course simply by following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I now feel that I have gained an understanding in the dynamics of dreams and the importance of these principles. There are many dreams I still do not understand or have gained insight into, but this is a growing process.
It really amazed me to see the enormous wealth of information to be drawn from the dreams that are recorded in the Bible. Few people really realize just how much the Lord uses dreams to communicate to people. His grace is amazing in that He even uses the world of dreams to communicate with the unbeliever. When I saw how many crucial and highly important destiny-defining moments happened during dreams in the Bible, I realized that my own dreams may carry much more significant and directional revelation from Heaven than I previously would admit. To many Christians their dreams are like a level one electronic game activity, engineered just to keep them preoccupied. They keep it not too difficult and not too deep. God is willing and able to form covenants in dreams (Abraham), to reveal prophetic promises (Joseph), to determine destinies (Joseph & Mary) and to save multitudes (Peter).
I have learned more about the all important symbolic language of dreams. I was impressed with the fluidity of meanings of symbols. Every dream is set in its own setting and has to be looked at from that setting. Meanings of symbols will change depending on the dreamers life and circumstances. Before this course I was more rigid in my understanding of symbols.
My understanding of dreams before this course has been limited to a communication tool to receive Divine revelation. I also learned that through dreams the Lord will bring a person to wholeness. I’ve learned that dreams do not condemn but rather expose areas of brokenness and disjointedness. God’s will for me is to be made completely whole.
Another precious and powerful principle I introduced into my life is that dreams will often warn me of a possible outcome if I continue to pursue a specific direction. If I change the direction the outcome will be different than in the dream. It is one of God’s personal warning systems to His children to keep us from harm’s way.
The fact that 95% of all dreams are subjective and only 5% objective was fascinating. In my teachings about receiving revelations from the Lord and how to incorporate them into life in the Kingdom, I always said that these revelations (prophetic words, and the like) should always be applied personally first before you can apply them to other peoples lives or even the church in a wider sense. I now hold that view concerning dreams as well.
What I have learned about the way the Lord speaks to me in dreams
During this course I began to see a distinctive and progressive growth in the personal nature of the dream and symbolic language of my dreams. I can really see a maturing in all the areas of the dream. My interpretations skills have improved as well as the array of symbols. My retention capability has increased significantly over the years because of my understanding of the importance of the details of the dream.
I would like to think of myself as being more sophisticated in the Lord compared to the formative years in the Lord, but through the world of dreams, the Lord keeps our relationship simple, fresh and focused. He would give me simple dreams just to remind me of the importance of returning and rekindling the simple basics of a love relationship.
One night I dreamed that I was part of a highly successful baseball team. I was a well respected member of the team and did not want to let the team down in any way. It was my turn to step up to the plate. The pitcher gave me his best shot and I hit the ball out of the park! I did not run for the home run. I waited for another pitch. He tried every pitch in his repertoire. I though that this was just too easy. Every ball he pitched at me ended up out of the park. Even the dreaded curve ball I knew I could not hit. Then the setting of the dream changed and I was the pitcher and the opposition fielded their best hitters. I pitched at the best of my ability and no one could hit any of my pitches. They all struck out!
I was very excited about this dream. Being a native South African, I did not grow up with baseball. I have a working knowledge of the game, but I would not be comfortable playing on any competitive level. When the Lord called us to become missionaries to America we left the familiarity of ministry in South Africa and joined the foreign flavor of ministry in the US. The people are different. The way they do things are different. I was like a cricket player (a game we play in South Africa) on a baseball field. I knew we were part of the Lord’s team because He called us here. Still I was nervous about my abilities. I could hold my own in ministry in South Africa, but what would happen in America? The Lord assured me that I would be able to handle every pitch! No matter what the challenge, circumstance or attack, I would hit it out of the park! Even the situations (curve balls) I normally had difficulties with. The Lord also assured me that all my efforts (pitches) would hit the mark. They would not be hit away. They will penetrate and accomplish what they were designed to do.
This has been a tremendous confidence-building dream to me personally. I was surprised that the Lord would put me in a setting of a game that I really had no or little interest in, but it made so much sense. All apprehension is gone and I’m swinging at every ball the ministry, circumstances or the enemy throws at me. I am highly confident in the abilities the Lord has given me, purely because of the reassurance He gave me in the form of a dream.
A continuous exploration
I believe the world of dreams and visions is largely unexplored. Due to the wonderful and hugely important work of people like Herman Riffel, Benny Thomas, Mark & Patti Virkler and the like, trails are being blazed into uncharted areas and realms of the Spirit. For far too long the Church as a whole has shied away from this world, simply because of the abuses and counterfeits produced by the New Agers and so-called strange people out there in the world.
The time has come for the Children of God to boldly explore this great world with the knowledge that well get to know the Lord on a deeper and more powerful level than ever before. Let’s be open once again to changed destinies, establishing of covenants, receiving warnings and Divine help in the night hours of our lives here on earth.
My prayer is that the information and teaching contained in this course as well as revealed in other resources be embraced by the Church and be regarded as the most important of the neglected areas of ministry in the Church. I firmly believe this course will help to deal with the inabilities of rational minds to discern spiritual things. May reason never be elevated to the only valid form of gathering knowledge ever again. May we be people of the Spirit who flow with the Holy Spirit in the realms He operates in. May the Lord from time to time step down into our worlds to bring refreshing and change, but may we also from time to time step up into His abode to be changed by His tremendous glory and power while being suspended in a realm higher than our earthly existence. I believe that dreams provide one of the great doors of entrance into this realm.
Learn more about Christian dream interpretation, and how you can receive divine revelation every night while you sleep.