The pastor put on a movie. It was boring. Some stood up to leave, but he said something and they sat down. Then several people stood up and looked out the windows. Black clouds and scenes of war filled the skies. The pastor walked down the aisle and took me to the window. I saw a horse. He called it over. I felt its breath and petted its nose. I went outside and watched it run around. I saw other animals. When I came back in, I asked my brother if he saw the horse. He told me that there was no horse. No one else saw it.
This was a realistic dream. I woke up knowing that, but with the disturbing questions, “How does anyone know what they know is real?” Can I trust my eyes, my ears and hands? Or is what I perceive as real only an illusion?
My husband was amused at first. “It’s only a dream.” However, he began to understand that this question is a large question. What is the difference between what a person sees and touches and that which they vividly imagine? Some world views say there is no difference.
Of course I prayed right away. My first thought after praying was a couple of verses from 1 John 1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us . . . .“
John saw and heard and touched Jesus, but not him only; all of them did. They verified reality to each other, but they also trusted more than their senses. The life of Christ was manifested or revealed to them not just to their physical senses. They also knew that this was an eternal life and that God had revealed that to them. By faith, they believed it was true.
Earlier, John wrote in his gospel about John the Baptist, “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
These words implied that Jesus was sent by God as a lamb to be sacrificed, a concept very familiar to the daily life of the Jews. How did John know that Jesus was that Lamb? He could have been anyone walking by, an ordinary person. But John knew.
My husband says we measure everything by Scripture and by Jesus. Like most people, Jesus trusted His eyes and ears, but He trusted the revelation of His Father more. Sometimes God spoke to Him, and even though no one else heard it (or it sounded to them like thunder), Jesus knew who it was and what He said.
1 Corinthians 2 quotes Isaiah 64: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” then says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”
Ephesians 3:20 says God “can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine.”
Obviously, my mind can dream outlandish and unreal things. I suppose I could also imagine the same. If I were mentally unbalanced, I would not have a clue what was real and what was not. However, I am certain about this: I did not and could not imagine the things that God has revealed to me. Even though I diligently read the Bible for many years, I could not see or grasp any of it until He touched me and made me see.
There is reality in sensory stuff that can be seen, heard, touched, and in concepts like freedom and love, but these ways of perceiving reality are not 100% reliable. I cannot trust what I see or imagine, but I can trust the revelation of God. Unlike wars and horses, I know I didn’t, and couldn’t, and don’t even have the capacity to make up, or imagine, any of what He has shown me about Himself.