Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Revealing dreams    (10/29/2017)

What happens when you sleep?  I’ve just been finding out!  A new book by Professor Matthew Walker, with the title “Why we sleep” (published by Allen Lane) shows how incredibly significant sleep is for health, emotional and mental well-being, even for length of life.  We all vitally need our eight hours sleep a night!

But one of the most striking parts of the book is how it shows the recent expansion of knowledge about what goes on in the brain.  Measuring the brain’s electric impulses, it is now possible to say with some confidence when someone ( a willing volunteer!) is dreaming, for instance, about a car or food.  So far, it is not possible to say which car or exactly what food - that may come later. 

It might seem a frightening prospect, but the real motive for these experiments is not only to discover what is going on when we sleep, but to find ways of helping people with various disorders or health problems.

All this may seem amazingly new, but 3,000 years ago, David, one of the great kings of Israel, wrote about God knowing everything about him.  There is nowhere I can go, he says, where I can escape.  You know my waking and my sleeping thoughts - everything!  Psalm 139 makes fascinating reading in this context.  God doesn’t need brain scans to know what is going on.  He sees as much in the dark as in the light.

For David this was not so much scary as utterly awesome - that God not only made every part of him, from the womb onwards - but tracks his life in detail.  But he also finds it reassuring that the God who knows even what he is going to say before he says it, is there not to judge or condemn him, but to guide, guard and help him.

In fact, his closing words are an invitation to God to look closely into his mind and thoughts, to deal with whatever is wrong or evil there, and to guide him “in the everlasting way.”

Jesus, describing the fact that God knows us so well, said, “Even the hairs of your head have been counted; so don’t be afraid!” (Matthew 10, verses 30 and 31).

It’s a waste of time and energy thinking we can hide from God, or worrying about it.  The God who knows our strengths and weaknesses, our good intentions and many failures, invites us to face him, have him purge out the bad stuff and fill us with light and love and hope.

Our sleeping dreams may be part of that process, as God works in us to produce the kind of life Jesus talked about - life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

Great God who made me, help me not to fear the searchlight of your gaze, but to accept that you already know me through and through.  Help me then to trust your love and mercy to deal with everything that goes on in my mind, waking or sleeping, to sort me out and to bring me to the richness of life lived now and always in your presence.

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