“About a dream!” staring at him across my desk. “You came here to talk about a dream? Look, I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t do dream interpretation or try to develop some insight into your ‘inner self’ through Freudian or Jungian dream analysis. I think maybe you’ve come to the wrong person.”
I got up from my desk and tried to lead him to the front door. “Why did I let his guy into my office – I’ve got so much to do without this ‘dream’ nonsense!”
“No, I haven’t and sit down,” Jeff said firmly. He looked annoyed at my questioning his decision to see me as though it were a personal insult. He stood up as if to gather his thoughts, walked around the office for a minute or two, then sat down again, staring at me straight in the eyes, and said, “This was no regular dream.”
“What do you mean ‘no regular dream’?” Jeff was now starting to get me more curious as to what brought him hundreds of miles to see me about what must be, at least to him, something very important.
“Look I know this dream thing sounds stupid, but believe me, it isn’t; at least not to me.” He was now getting a little defensive, clearly contemplating his next few words. As with most powerful people accustomed to being in control, Jeff was having difficulty in this role reversal. Rather than providing insight and direction to his underlings, he was in the vulnerable position of requesting it.
“You know how in most dreams everything is a little confused, jumbled up, and often doesn’t really make sense? How you are somewhere you don’t know, with people maybe you’ve never seen, or in situations that when examined the next morning, just don’t make any sense? And also, how usually shortly afterward you wake up, you can’t even remember most of your dream?”
I nodded in agreement. Usually dream content is highly conceptualized, often surreal with confusing content that can be adventurous, frightening, or even magical with little relationship to the real material world. Dream content has been studied for many years by philosophers, psychiatrists, and theologians attempting to determine the meaning of dream content. Famously, Freud related much of dream content to inner struggles of the subconscious mind attempting to influence our conscious behavior. But usually, dreams are quickly forgotten and have little influence on our daily life.
“Well, the dream I had a few days ago rocked me to my very core and got me questioning how I have lived my life, and whether things need to change – or not. That is why I came to see you, to see if you might offer any insight as to how I should deal with all this. I need to know whether you have ever heard of such things as I am to tell you, and especially to tell me if you think I am going crazy. You know, Dave, I’ve used a boatload of drugs in my life, and they might have screwed up my brain somehow. Maybe I need a pill or something so this dream won’t come back again; it’s getting near the time that it will.”
Jeff was clearly becoming upset, even agitated upon remembering his dream. Curious, I thought, for he prided himself on being “rational” and “scientific” about how he approached the world and his life. Becoming so unnerved was just not his style; particularly in front of somebody else and most especially not in front of someone from his past. It was this “rational” self, I suppose, that caused Jeff to reject the Christianity of his parents, and to assume the atheist worldview of the “skeptic” that assumed there was nothing outside of science. To Jeff, there was only the physical world; anything metaphysical or spiritual was highly suspect because it could not be examined, measured, or dissected.
“Well, the dream I had the other night was anything but rational; but, it was frighteningly real. It was in your face, up close and personal. Also, I remember every bit of this dream; every word, every sensation, every bit of fear; even my salty sweat dripping into my eyes and mouth. I have come to you to see if you have heard about anything like this from one of your patients, read about it in one of these books you have lining your office. Maybe there is some help from a journal article or some meeting you might have attended; anything that might help me because I think I am losing my mind!”
In situations where somebody is about to bare their soul, I try to be as comforting and reassuring as possible. Rather than converse across my desk, I retrieved a chair from another room and sat down next to Jeff to see if I could help him tell me what had apparently torn his soul in two. After getting myself comfortable for what was likely to be a long narrative, I nodded for him to continue.
“Dave, I went to bed like any other night, took no unusual medicines, no booze; just went to bed and fell asleep rather quickly. It had been a difficult day with some difficult clients complaining about some money I had lost them in an option spread, and I found myself pretty exhausted. I remember falling asleep rather quickly.”
“OK,” I said, trying to be as comforting as possible. “Then what happened?”
“Well, it seemed right after I fell asleep, probably within a few minutes, that’s when I saw him clear as day,” Jeff said, looking to the floor as if seeing his dream in his mind.
The Angel Appears
“Well, at first, I really couldn’t see anything except an intensely bright white light that just got brighter and brighter. I tried to turn away, but everywhere I looked there was this same white light. I closed my eyes but the brightness came right through my eyelids. In desperation, I covered my eyes with my arm and tried to look away, but it didn’t matter – the light increased in brilliance until I screamed out in pain!”
I thought at this point that Jeff was describing a seizure; sometimes, seizures may present themselves as a smell, visual hallucination, or even a taste. Thinking I had already arrived at a diagnosis, I was ready to end this meeting with a neurology referral when he resumed talking.
“I couldn’t tell where the light was coming from because it seemed equally brilliant everywhere I looked – even when looking up or down. It was like I was suspended in the light; there was no bed I was lying on, no floor when I looked over the bed. I was really scared; I remember that. I thought briefly maybe I was having a bad trip or a flashback but then became painfully aware there was more to this dream than just a light. There seemed to be someone there in the midst of the light with me in my bedroom.”
“Who was in the room with you?” Jeff seemed a little annoyed with my prompting and blurted, “I’m getting to that!”
“OK Jeff, I’m sorry – I’ll try not to interrupt. Go on, tell me about who was in the room with you.”
“I remember being unable to see anything but whiteness; just a brilliant, painful white light. I tried to figure out my surroundings and moved my arms about me trying to feel my way around. You have to understand, Dave, I could not even see myself! I could still feel the bed, the pillows, and even the floor when I attempted to stand – but I could see nothing but painfully brilliant white light. What was even stranger was that I could not block out the light! My perception of the light did not change even if I put my arm over my eyes.”
Jeff stopped for a few moments knowing what he was going to say would seem ridiculous, surreal, and cause me to question his sanity.
The Angel’s Message
“It was then that I heard a voice.”
I sat back in my chair in disbelief, looked at Jeff, and wondered whether he might have a serious medical issue; something like a brain tumor. I tried to interrupt him at this point, but then he continued his soliloquy waving me off dismissively with his right hand. Clearly, he was in the midst of his story and he did not want to be interrupted.
“Yes, a voice, Dave. I know this sounds bad but bear with me. Just as with the light, this deep, booming male voice seemed to come from everywhere. I tried to figure out where to face and how to acknowledge this voice, but in my confusion and feat, I finally just chose a position and screamed, “What do you want!”
“I want you, Son of Earth!” the loud voice boomed.
“Well, Dave, you can imagine how scared I was. I’ve been scared before, like once when I was robbed at gunpoint and ran away fully expecting to be shot in the back. But that fear was nothing compared to what I felt in that dream, I guess because there was nowhere to run! When you’re about to be shot, at least you know the danger, know where your attacker is, and know what you have to do. When I was in the light, I had no idea – at least at first – who this was, what he meant by ‘Son of Earth,’ and whether I was living my last minutes. The voice was loud – very loud, resonating, and just like the light seemed to be coming from all directions; kind of like Surround Sound, you know?” he chuckled for a moment. “I have never experienced anything like that light and voice before – and I hope I never will again!”
“Do not be afraid,” the voice said next, “for I have come to help you.”
“Help me how; I don’t need your help! Leave me alone, go away. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow and you need to go!”
“You need my help Son of Earth because you will surely die within a year.”
You Will Surely Die
“Dave, there is little on this earth that will get your attention like somebody tell you that you’re going to die soon. You know what it means to give something like a death sentence to a patient when you tell them they have some dread disease. When I heard from this shapeless, resounding voice enveloped in a brilliant light that I personally was going to die soon; well, that’s different.”
“I tried to summon all my courage and in a strong voice demanded, “’ What do you mean ‘die in a year’? Who are you anyway to be telling me this?”
“I am an angel, sent by God with a message to help you escape your fate.”
“The voice seemed very matter of face telling me I was going to die in a year, and that for some reason he was concerned about my ‘fate.’ I wanted to tell the angel to just go away, let me be, and don’t come back, but I was also curious about this ‘message.’ I mean, who wouldn’t be curious about a message somebody said was from God. But first, there was something I had to settle.”
“Angel! I don’t believe in angels, ghosts, or fairy tales; prove to me you are an angel!”
The voice said, “There are several classes of angels, Son of Earth. We were created by God long before the Earth began in multiple separate orders.  We have many functions on Earth and throughout the Heavens. You even have a guardian angel you has despaired at your lack of faith and poor choices. I am one of the messengers from God, with a message for you personally. I care not if you believe in angels, but you will believe soon. And you will most definitely believe in me!”
Gathering all my courage, I queried, “Tell me about this message.”
“Son of Earth, you have lived a selfish, sinful life, caring only about yourself and gathering riches while the world around you suffers from want and need. God will hold you in judgment for your selfishness unless you change – and change quickly as you have little time left. Usually, men are left to decide whether to accept God’s mercy or whether to refuse God’s gift, but because of your mother, you have been granted a special visitation by me, an angel, to help teach you about God.”
“Look, angel,” I said, “I guess you mean well, but I have long since rejected anything about God, the Bible, faith, belief, and all that stuff. I grew up in a religious household and my parents all died an early death after they lived a life in poverty, disease, and misery. They had no money, no joy in life, and certainly no fun. Where was God in all their suffering? What good did God ever do for them? I am now a great success because I live my life my way and live the way I want. I have done quite well without God’s help, thank you very much. No, I choose my way so thanks but no thanks!”
“Son of Earth, the choice of my visitation is not yours. Your mother prayed on her knees every night for you until the day she died. She prayed that somehow you might be brought to faith; to see what she saw, to understand what she knew. Success in life is not defined by the possessions you have but by the character of your person. She tried to live a righteous life, and God has heard her prayer and sent me to help you see.”
“See what! How can I believe in a God who lets so much suffering continue throughout the world, who lets fifteen million children die every year of starvation, who lets criminals prosper and the righteous Christian rot in foreign jails? Is that what you mean? Is that the kind of God whose message you bring? And about my mother. What good did her lifetime of ‘prayer on her knees’ get her? Nothing but cancer. If that’s how you God is, I don’t want any part of him.”
“Son of Earth, I have not come to argue with you but to show you Truth. How you live is up to you. You will receive a visit from me about once every few days until you surely die within a year from now. You cannot escape these visits; they are foreordained and will happen just as your death will happen within a year
“What’s this ‘die within a year’ stuff? How do you know I will die within a year?
“Son of Earth, I thought you knew Scripture being raised in a Christian house! God has seen the end from the beginning and even before the beginning of time knew the day of your birth and the hour of your death. It is an appointment you cannot escape for within one year your soul will be required of you and everything you now have spent your life acquiring will belong to somebody else.
“Whatever,” I said derisively. In times of fear, I learned how to put up a good front; to look like I’m not scared when in fact you want to run and hide!
“And why do you call me ‘Son of Earth? You probably don’t even know my name!”
“Your earthly given name is not your real name and is of no concern to me. God has named every star, and knows every bird, every animal, and certainly every person. God knows you far better than you know yourself for he knows your every thought, every desire, and every action now and in the future. When you die, your real name will be revealed to you, and you will be referred to by that name for eternity.” The voice paused for a few seconds. “In this life,” the angel continued, “your earthly body was created from the soil, from common elements in the dirt of the land. Before your real name – the name by which you are known to God – can be revealed, you will be referred to as ‘Son of Earth.’”
“So let me get this straight. My poor mother who your precious God let die with cancer in terrible pain a few weeks ago prayed for me every day, and so God has decided to give me special dispensation and sent me an angel to convince me of my evil ways. Is that it?”
“No,” said the angel. “That is not ‘it.’ God ultimately knows your decision. My duty is to teach you about the existence and the glory of God with information that is readily available to every living person on Earth. You foolishly have decided to live your life acquiring things that will belong to someone else within a year rather than studying creation, learning about the existence of God, and helping others.”
“You were born to love God with all your mind, body, and heart, and to love others like yourself. Instead, you have wasted your precious life by helping only yourself while ignoring the needs of others. What you do with the evidence I tell you is between you and God. I hope you will understand this evidence and tell others s they may know as well.”
“What do you mean, ‘evidence?’ What evidence! Darwin has proven that our species came from apes, and science has proven evolution to be true – everybody knows that! Astronomy has proven the universe came from the Big Bang, and the Earth came from interstellar dust. What evidence for God? The Bible is full of contradictions, and is only a bunch of myths and old fables written by extinct civilizations centuries ago; I have no need of all that stuff!”
“The purpose of your life,” the Angel said sternly as he seemed to peer even more deeply into my soul, “is to find God, learn about and serve God, and take care of your fellow man while taking care of God’s creation. You, Son of Earth, have done none of these things. Your life continues to have no purpose other than to please yourself; this must change if you wish to escape God’s wrath.”
“There we go again, ‘God’s wrath.’ God is just like some petulant king who rules over his subjects with fear and spanks them if they disobey. He then does an about-face and blames his subjects for not toeing the line or bowing in his presence. Please; give me a break! You, angel, are but a nightmare from which I shall soon awaken and laugh off with my friends.”
“Son of Earth – you have much to learn because you understand nothing. You will be given insights and information you should have learned during your life rather than living entirely for yourself. We will travel throughout the world and view the misery, poverty, and disease you could have helped, and see the helplessness of countless millions who search in the wrong place for God and who could have found God if you had but cared.”
“You are held responsible for their misery, along with the millions like you who have refused to see the light of God. Remember, Son of Earth, I will come back soon to start your instruction; learn well, for you will die soon and stand in front of God for judgment. I hope for your sake you have better answers than what you have told me”
“It was at that time that I could see in my mind countless millions of people, suffering greatly with starvation, boils, pustules, gaping wounds dying in the gutters of great cities of the world while disinterested multitudes stepped over them. I saw emaciated children dying in their mothers’ arms, people drinking sewer water in their extreme thirst, elderly beggars on countless street corners pleading for a morsel of food but are totally ignored. Dave, everything the angel said or show me in my mind I remember exactly. Do you know how usually you quickly forget your dreams? Well, not here – I remember ever word my hallucination said.”
“Look, angel. I am not taking any responsibility for the suffering of the world. Your God could have waved his ‘magic wand’ and stopped all that suffering. Either he is too weak to stop the mystery, or just does not care. If God is able to stop evil and chooses not to – what kind of God is that? If he is not able to stop evil in the world, he is not very powerful. Either way, that is not a God I care to follow.”
Dave, I thought I had him. I remembered my conversation with the pastor and felt the same way. I had boxed the angel into a corner and he had nowhere to go. But still, there was this one little matter concerning my impending death. I thought I might have some fun with this angel fellow.
“Wait for a minute angel; before you leave, tell me more about this ‘die soon’ thing! Does this mean I can’t die for a year? Can I walk in front of a train or jump off a building and not die for a year? Does it mean I am like Superman in the comic books, impervious to all dangers on earth for another year?”
“Of course not, foolish man,” the angel said. “You can take your life anytime until a year from now when God takes it from you; indeed, the thought of suicide will enter your mind multiple times as you see the life you could have had, the knowledge you could have possessed, and the people you could have helped who have suffered because you turned away from them.”
“Son of Earth, every living person is presented with opportunities to change their world for the better. Of course, those living in affluence – like you – have many more opportunities than most. Just think what you could have done with your money and influence; you could have supported countless charities doing good things throughout the world, you could have mentored the multitudes of people who came to you for help, you could have been honest in your dealings with your clients. Instead, you have supported nothing worthwhile, you have refused to help anybody, and you have cheated your clients who placed their trust in you. You have done all of this to gain monetary rewards – all of which you will forfeit when you surely die.”
I just look straight into the light and shook my hear showing my disbelief in everything he said. I had little power compared to his precious God. Surely, the Almighty God could have stopped the hunger, the killings, and the violence. Where was he when the tsunami in Indonesia killed hundreds of thousands? Where was he when earthquakes killed thousands of innocent poor people in China, the wars of the last century when millions upon millions of people died? Surely, God had a greater responsibility for some of the suffering in the world.
After a few moments, the angel said, “Of course, if you kill yourself you will not receive my full instruction, and will die in your ignorance.”
“Suppose I take amphetamines and cocaine and never fall back to sleep!”
“That is why, foolish Son of Earth, I have not told you the precise day of my coming to you each week. Your body cannot stay awake but for a few days, and when you eventually sleep, I will enter your dreams again. You cannot escape me just like you cannot escape God; I will track you down and you will hear his message.”
“Look, it is clearly too late for me if I am going to die within a year. I might as well keep living my way and enjoy what little time I have left.”
“That decision is clearly up to you. You can ignore the instruction I will be giving you and continue in your self-destructive ways. But it is never too late until the moment you die; that is the great advantage you humans have over all other living creatures; you have the opportunity to consider the evidence before you and make a conscious decision. Even those who never were given the opportunity to own the Scriptures or hear about God have received evidence of his existence. Thus far in your life, you have not evaluated the information about God and his creation that is all about you – everywhere to be seen, from the ground beneath your feet to the stars and planets in the sky. The evidence for God is everywhere; you will receive my help to see that evidence.”
“It was then that the brilliant light momentarily dimmed, and looking to my right side, I caught a glimpse of the angel. He appeared brilliantly white and I could only gaze in his direction for a few instants at a time, but I could barely make out his body standing slightly above the bedroom floor.”
“And then, just as quickly as the angel appeared, he was gone; vanished. The intense brilliance gradually dissipated leaving behind utter blackness. I immediately woke up and glanced at the clock to see that only a few minutes had elapsed since I put my head down. I remember every bit of that dream; it is as if it was seared into my consciousness because it seemed so real. When the angel showed me areas of the world where there was extreme poverty, death, and disease, I experienced the intense stench of death and putrefaction that nearly made me vomit; I remember that too. “
“Dave, that last part stuck in my mind – the ‘evidence of God is everywhere’. What did the angel mean by that? I do not see any evidence for God – only evidence for no God. Some of the greatest scientists alive were atheists; just look at Steven Hawking, possibly the most intelligent man alive. And yet, he was an atheist. Or Richard Dawkins and Stephen Gould, two evolutionary biologists who have received multiple awards for their science.
We both sat in my office for a few minutes, saying nothing. It was a lot to assimilate; what did it mean? Was this really a situation where God would reach down to an unbeliever and provide special insight, special information that was not given to most? Or, what seemed more likely, was this only a hallucination resulting from some neurological disease or medication Jeff was taking. I would probably have to refer Jeff to a neurologist – or maybe a psychiatrist; he was certainly losing his mind.
And what would happen to Jeff; was there really hope for him? Was his fate really to die in a year – who has heard of anyone given the date when he would die? Then there was the Biblical story about King Hezekiah. He was given a message from God by the great prophet Isaiah that he would die soon. I knew sometimes people could be shown God’s miracles, and still deny his existence; would this be the case with Jeff? Or, as Jeff supposed, was there some serious medical problem causing him to have some kind of flashbacks from his overzealous religious parents?
We talked for a while longer, and I told Jeff to reevaluate his life and to live as though he might die in a year. It’s amazing how learning of your imminent demise brings the real value of life issues into clear focus.
Of course, if Jeff had no further visitations from this ‘angel’ then it was likely merely a bad although highly stylized dream, probably made more intense from his years of drug abuse. Or, maybe this was the real deal; we are told in Scripture there are angels among us. But still, could this really happen?
Research into Angelic Visitations in the Islamic World
I went home from my medical office after Jeff finally had to leave for another meeting. I was grateful to get him out of the office – my head was swimming form what he had told me. What to make of this angel thing?
There certainly are many angelic visitations throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments; in fact, there are at least twenty. We all know about Hagar – Abraham’s “maidservant” who bore him a son named Ishmael. She had two encounters with an angel. Then there was the angel who appeared to Gideon while threshing wheat, to Manoah’s wife who would bear Samson, Elijah had an angel speak with him, Daniel who saw the angel Gabriel, Hezekiah who had help from an angel to defeat the Assyrians, Zacharias who had an angelic visitor telling him he would have a son (who would become John the Baptist), the Virgin Mary who would be visited by Gabriel, another angelic visitation to Joseph in a dream, all the angelic visitors at the time of Christ’s birth, and at Christ’s empty tomb.
In fact, it seemed almost common in ancient Biblical times to have angelic visitations – sometimes in a dream. But what about now? We live in a very skeptical secular society that discounts any stories of the miraculous, and certainly of otherworldly angels.
Photographs are anything but convincing; imaging technology today can easily make the globs of light that are supposed to be angelic visitors. Often people see what they want to see, or are in the hospital under the influence of medications. Not very convincing.
I found believers would often argue those blessed with angelic visitations face such skepticism that they just keep quiet about their experiences and that such visits are much more common than reported. That is hardly a convincing argument.
Then there were the occasional articles pointing out another very real, documented fact and the one underlying thread underneath. The one fact is that thousands upon thousands of Muslims are turning to Christ.
This is something new. This type of conversion rate has not happened for hundreds of years. he internet has literally hundreds of these stores concerning countless converts from Islam to Christianity. This is happening in countries throughout the Islamic world, even in countries where such conversion is illegal and would mean prison, torture, rape, and often death. These are countries like Saudia Arabia and Iran where Christians are still few and far between but growing at a massive rate.
This is highly unusual.
This trend seems to have started in about the last 30 years or so, quietly at first, but now at an accelerating rate. The Baptist Press relates several fascinating stories about Christ appearing to them in a dream. In fact, this seems to be a unifying story among many of these mass conversion stories throughout the Islamic world. For example, the Press notes,
“Thousands of North African Muslims wrote to a Christian radio service asking for information. Many reported a similar dream: Jesus appears and tells them, “I am the way.”
“In Nigeria, Muslims savagely beat a Christian convert from their tribe. As he lay dying, they heard him asking God to forgive them. That night two Muslim mullahs who participated in the attack saw visions of Christ. Both repented and took 80 followers to a Christian church to hear the gospel.
But this is from the Southern Baptists – maybe not an impartial observer.
But then there was this article in Newsweek from 2019, hardly a Christian outlet. They reported a similar timeline as did the Southern Baptists. In the mid-1990s there were only a very few Christian missionaries with a Muslim background. Now, they are found in throughout South Asia on evangelistic missions. Multiple other missionary colleagues throughout the Muslim world had similar stories with former Muslims in West Africa, Iran, several Central Asian Republics, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia.
Reports of large scale conversions to Christianity were taking place – something new was happening. The author decided to do research in order to understand the magnitude of this conversion. A “movement” was defined as 1,000 Muslims from a particular community who not only professed faith in Christ but demonstrated outward belief through baptism – something that could cost ostracism from their community and even death.
Historically, such movements to Christ are exceedingly rare in Islamic history. There were a few movements during the beginning centuries of Islam, but none since about the year 1300. From 1300 to 1850 there is not a single voluntary Muslim movement to Christ recorded anywhere on earth.
Then in the late 19th century the ministry of Indonesian Sadrach Surapranata, the so-called “Apostle of Java,” brought 10,000-20,000 Muslims converted to Christianity. A few years later in Abyssinia, 7,000 Muslims came to Christian faith and baptism. The twentieth century was largely consumed by two world wars during the first half, while the second half picks up the pace of evangelization. There were ten more movements in places in Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, and Iran.
The Newsweek article then goes on to discuss the matter of dreams. A common phrase in many testimonies from West Africa to East Asia begins with “I had a dream…” For many, they recall a dream with visitations bringing them to Christ. A scholarly article in the Southeastern Theological Review leaves open the possibility that the unprecedented conversion rates of Islam to Christianity result at least in part from dream experiences. This seems to be a common denominator throughout the entire Islamic world.
What About Jeff?
Reports of dream conversions from a secular worldview to Christianity are very unusual, especially in the Western world. Those who live in the West, especially in the United States, live largely isolated from the rest of the world. We have little interaction with other countries and generally do not understand their language or culture.
But, since angelic visitations are in Scripture and seem to be occurring in the world now according to some reports, I didn’t think it should be discounted entirely.
Jeff believes he is now the target of an angel bent on answering the prayers of his righteous mother. Whether this was an isolated visit or a bad dream was still up to questions when I finished my research that night.
We received our answer quickly; Jeff called me a few days later on my private office line. Since I had not given him this number, I was mildly curious as to how he acquired it. I was also curious to see whether this ‘angel’ would return to Jeff in a similar way while asleep at night and wanted him to call me immediately if the dreams recurred. He called, and in a breathless voice early in the morning, he quickly caught me up to date.
He had a second visit.