by Denise Gitsham
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
For most of my life, I had a “Big Guy in the Sky” mentality about God. I pictured Him an old man, full of wisdom and stern admonitions, who was emotionally detached from everything and everyone. To know Him was to fear Him; a perspective that, in my mind, rendered Him too scary to embrace, and me too irrelevant to be worthy of his attention.
Even so, He deigned to communicate with me whenever I needed His assurance. As a child, I cried out to him when my parents fought, and begged Him to make them stop. In response, God rushed to comfort my broken heart, and enveloped me in His peace. Those moments, however, felt like one-offs, and I quickly defaulted to my former understanding of His nature when the moment passed. Consequently, our communication remained a one-way road for most of my life.
Over the past few years, however, my understanding of God’s desire to communicate with me has deepened. Today, I sense God speaking to me through every circumstance, impression, relationship, and idea. Much of what I previously considered “random,” I now realize was anything but. What I perceive, understand, and experience each day, is part of His carefully orchestrated way of reminding me how much He loves me.
Lately, dreams have taken center stage in our ongoing conversation. This is hardly a surprise, as God has always used dreams to communicate with His people. Old Testament Joseph saw his future unfold in his dreams (Genesis 37:5). New Testament Joseph was urged to care for his pregnant fiancé in a dream (Matthew 1:20), and spared Jesus’ life as a result of another (Matthew 2:13). King Solomon asked for wisdom in a dream (1 Kings 3:5-9), Daniel interpreted dreams for a king (the whole Book of Daniel), and Joel prophesied that believers would “dream dreams” in the “last days” (Joel 2:28) - a truth that Luke reiterated in Acts 2:17.
While most communication is filtered through our belief systems or the opinions of others, dreams come to us when we’re most receptive and impressionable. I’ve often doubted the voice of God after processing it through the gauntlet of my own logic or emotion. However, I’ve never doubted the veracity of my recollected dreams. Author Laura Harris Smith , in Seeing the Voice of God, explains that, “through prophetic dreaming, God can communicate direction to you that perhaps you would not be able to hear while awake in your distracted environment.” Dreams cut right through the noise of the world, and speak directly to us on a subconscious level.
God recently used dreams to free me from a long-standing relational quagmire. For years, I was paralyzed by conflicting advice from well-meaning friends, the world, the Church, and my own emotions. I knew that I couldn’t continue in this relationship without violating my own sense of dignity and self-respect, but I also felt like I couldn’t break a covenantal relationship. I had high hopes and lifelong dreams that hinged on its success, and had spent years praying for a breakthrough, not a break up.
Given how committed I was to this person, I set about doing all the things I usually did to petition God for help. I spent weeks fasting and praying, surrounded myself with wise counsel, and sought the advice of professionals. I had an outcome I was focused on achieving, and asked God to change our hearts and minds accordingly.
Eventually, I ran out of energy, friends, and tears. As I came to the end of myself, I heard God’s still, small voice say something I never expected: “Stop praying for restoration, and start praying for the truth.” Those words and their implications hit me with a thud, and I protested, “I don’t want to know the truth, God. I want a miracle.” Deep down, however, I knew that He’d spoken those words for a reason. So I reluctantly handed over the control I’d clung to for dear life, and granted Him full permission to show me what I needed to see.
That night, I experienced the first of five sequential dreams – each identifying a different, dangerous and/or disingenuous personality trait of the person I was in relationship with. My dreams ended between 3 and 4 am, and upon waking, I grabbed my ipad to record everything I could remember. Sometimes I felt silly detailing things that didn’t seem relevant, but those details led to illuminating truths that fundamentally shifted my perspective of the relationship, liberating me from any further confusion, guilt, and abuse. Through dreams, God took my blinders off, and set me free.
Communicating with God on a continual basis has changed everything about our relationship. The fact that He gauges the time and manner in which He speaks, to optimize my ability to receive what He has to say, is further evidence of his grace. I love hearing from Him at any time of the day or night, and I expect to - and do - on a regular basis. Our conversations are much better now that they’re a two-way road, and have helped me understand who He truly is: my Heavenly Father, who literally dotes on me, and never wants me to forget it.
Denise Gitsham is a recovering attorney who’s currently writing her first book, which addresses the intersection of politics and faith. When she’s not discussing the two most taboo issues on the planet, she’s out running on the California coastline, hanging with family and friends, and loving on her golden retriever Jack.