Last week I had a vivid and even tactile dream. I was sitting at a table with many people - maybe 20 - and my brother Austen was a couple people down from me. Wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts, his usual, he was smiling and laughing as he spoke to the unknown face next to him. I got up, stood behind him, and began rubbing his shoulders. (This is totally normal in my family. Shoulder rubbing is part of our bonding.) He continued talking with the person next to him. Then I bent down and hugged his neck. He was just as big as always - broad. I could feel his hair on my face as I bent down. Then as I was standing back up, he turned to me and said, "Ashleigh, you're taking this really hard." Then I woke up.
What do you do with that? I have sought counsel about it. And without going into details about other family members' experiences (They're not mine to tell the blogging world.), I will say that I'm not the only one to "see" my brother. So what to make of this?
- Is it God speaking to me and using my brother's image to do it? Could be. One thing my professor pointed out is that Austen does not yet have his resurrection body. He's a spirit without a body to inhabit. We can't fathom that. His point was that even though it's not what my brother truly looks like now, God knows that for Him to show me his spirit wouldn't make sense to me. He related to me on my level.
- Is it really my brother? No. If there's one thing we learned in 1 Samuel 28 from the Medium of Endor, it's that we should not try to contact the dead, nor can they contact us. As far as I understand, the Medium at Endor had an evil spirit she was in communication with. When people came to her, that spirit would imitate their loved one they were trying to contact. Satan is smart. He knows enough about our loved ones to have his workers imitate them and deceive us. But then what happened with Samuel? The witch was shocked because when Samuel spoke it wasn't the spirit she knew. It was God speaking as Samuel - or perhaps it was Samuel and this was the exception. It depends on your interpretation. Either way it's clear that in normal circumstances this is not permitted or acceptable.
- Could it just be my mind comforting me? Could be. I think I would be okay with that though. I was comforted. Puzzled by what he meant, but comforted nonetheless.
- Could it be a result of heavy grieving? Yes, again I think it could be. So then what do I do with what he said? When I told a friend about the dream, her response was, "Do you feel like you need permission to still be grieving?" And I guess a little. I know I still have the right. But for example, I've decided once I'm finished interning in August, I'm taking a much needed break to allow myself to rest, grieve, whatever I need at the time. I need it. And I think God has revealed that. A friend questioned what I would do after the break... that's the point of the break. I'm going to just sit, do what I need to do, and be okay not knowing.
- Could this just be a dream? I went to counseling today. After sharing all this with her and processing it, I said, "Well I mean I guess it could have just been a dream." Her response was, "Is God not sovereign even over our dreams?" She had me there. If God is sovereign over all, then dreams are included. My professor enlightened me more. He said whether (and my family member's experiences) a reaction to heavy grieving, a dream, or even in other circumstances with a friend reaching out and ministering, God uses all of these "normal" human experiences to reach us and comfort us.