I Still Don’t Know if Seeing Jesus Was Only a Dream
A long time ago, when I was in my twenties, I went through a devastating breakup with a boyfriend. I had finished college, was working as a newspaper reporter, had my own apartment, and was a Christian, although not a very good one. Many things I thought were certain had turned out to be tenuous, elusive, or just plain wrong. I was confused and depressed.
Then I dreamed I saw Jesus.
I did not, at that time, place much stock in dreams. Most of the time they fluttered beyond my grasp on waking, and I forgot about them. But this one was different, both because the details stayed with me and because my response in the aftermath of the dream was so unexpected and strange.
I was in an airport talking with the gate agent about my flight when a rush of people, hundreds, thundered past us. They filled the airport terminal, swarming in one direction, and the excitement was palpable. They seemed to have forgotten their scheduled flights, and no one cared.
I stared after them, perplexed. What was going on? Then the gate agent pointed in their direction and said, “It’s Jesus! He’s at the airport!” As soon as he spoke, I took off running, too, although I was incredulous. How could it be possible for Jesus to be in the airport?
The others had stopped and were crowding around a particular gate at the end of the terminal, straining to see, when I caught up with them. It struck me that the crowd consisted all kinds of people, all colors and religions. Maybe this stood out because it was during the seventies, when diversity in a United States airport was not as common as it is now. There were beautiful Indian women in long saris, Muslims with head coverings, people of every ethnicity milling around, excited.
I stood behind the crowd, craning to see, but too embarrassed to move forward. I think I even shrank back a little for fear I would be noticed. Then I spotted Jesus outside the airport on the other side of the window with an ocean of water surging between us.
As soon as I spotted him, he singled me out and told me to come forward. He spoke without words, yet I completely understood. Still, I hesitated. How could he possibly be singling me out from where I stood, in the back of the crowd? How had he seen me? I edged forward hesitantly, moving toward the window, and discovered to my surprise that I was soon drifting easily through the water.
When I reached him, I sat at his feet and felt enveloped by the greatest sense of love and peace I had ever known. Jesus told me, once again speaking without words, that I could ask him anything I wanted. I asked two questions about my future, because at that time I was young, uncertain, and feared the future.
Jesus answered my questions with a smile, but it was as if he had spoken. His smile told me the answers would be much better than my greatest expectations. Time had no meaning as I sat at his feet, enveloped by this wonderful peace. We communicated without words, and I knew, somehow, that I was loved beyond measure and accepted unconditionally.
Then I woke up.
After the Dream
If you believe the dream was strange, the aftermath was even stranger. The experience of being in Jesus’s presence had been so overwhelming that I experienced a deep depression on waking. I wanted to be with him and not in my own bed.
I tried going back to sleep, but woke in a tangle of covers to a dark, dreary morning. In the coming weeks, I looked forward to sleeping whenever possible. I wanted to have the experience again. It’s hard to describe how intently I longed for the dream. It consumed me to the extent that I was dissatisfied with being awake. I longed for the dream more than I had ever longed for anything.
Night after night sleep came, but not the dream. I couldn’t conjure it up, summon Jesus, or experience what I had experienced that night. I didn’t try to find any hidden meaning or significance in it. I didn’t really understand the dream. Each day I went through the motions of living, but everything seemed drab and my depression deepened without the sense of peace and love I longed to feel again.
Gradually, with the passage of time, my feelings faded. At some point, I grew reconciled to the fact that I would not have the dream again. As it receded into the background, everyday life began to resume its vibrancy.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the two questions I had asked were answered in better ways than I ever imagined. I am not disclosing those questions here, because they are personal, involve other people, and are irrelevant to the way I felt about the dream, but the predictions came true.
Sometimes, I think the dream was only a dream. At other times, I believe I encountered something spiritual and beyond my understanding. I have read of near-death experiences; of how people are so overwhelmed by the peace and love and beauty that they don’t want to return to the world of the living. I didn’t have a near death experience, but their accounts remind me of the way I felt.
Although I wanted to experience the dream again more than anything, I’m glad now I didn’t. I might not have been able to move forward with enthusiasm or joy. Any interpretation or value I give to the dream is influenced by my theology and world view, so I hesitate to inject my own meanings into it. But my impression was that God loves each one of us as if we are the only person on earth, and his love fills us beyond needing anything else.
It’s inexplicable and beyond rational understanding, but his love is too overwhelming for us to experience fully now, because we would not want to remain on earth and complete our lives here. Maybe our glimpses into the spiritual realm are not as complete and full as we would like them to be because we need to keep our foothold in this world; to find beauty, express love and learn our lessons in this life.
Was I dreaming or was I experiencing something real? I still don’t know, but the feelings were real.