For much of my life I have had a recurrent dream where I enter through a secret door and find an entirely new and hidden place. There are several doors there that take me into different rooms that are familiar to me as soon as I go in. But it is all hidden and secret from everyone else and I can only find this place in my dreams. Sometimes, I dream my mother is with me. I’ve told her about this place over and over. And in that dream, we go there and I am so excited for her to finally see it. I say, “Look Mom! This is the place I’ve been telling you about. See how beautiful it is? So interesting!” The problem is, I can’t tell you what it is about that place that is beautiful or interesting, but deep within me, I know it is.
I used to believe, as a child, that my hidden place was in an unknown upstairs level of my grandmothers two story house. I thought, surely, I would discover a third stairway and it would take me on up to that secret door.
It’s like in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis where Lucy opens the door to an old wardrobe to hide and suddenly discovers a secret door, or entryway, into an entirely different, mythical world – a place called Narnia. There they encounter characters that are wonderful, or frightening, but are also wonderfully frightening altogether. In that magical place, they learn some valuable life lessons about good versus evil, and sacrificial love. There are lots of Christian theological messages in this story.
I used to have such a deep longing to find my secret place. It was a quest I felt I was on, because it seemed if I could find it, there would be some great treasure for me. It was like a mystery that I hoped would open up, like the door in my dreams, and I would suddenly see clearly what I needed to know.
At some point in recent years I realized I had not had that dream in a very long time. It just stopped. I’m not sure when it stopped but I guess I got busy with life and ministry and it took a while to remember what was missing. I wonder why it stopped. Or why I had the dream, in the first place, for so many years, beginning as a small child and continuing well into my adulthood. Because it kept recurring, I came to believe it was important – like God sending me a message that I needed to hear. I hoped for a while that it would still happen. But it hasn’t. It’s been many years now, although I’m not sure when it stopped. Was it when my mother died? Was it when I answered the CALL to go into ministry? Was it when I graduated from seminary and began the ministry? Perhaps it gradually became less and less as I became more and more sure of who I am and what my purpose in life is about. As important as the dream was to me, I can’t determine just when it stopped. I just know, as my life unfolded, as I became more sure of myself, I had less of a need to find that door and to discover the other side.
Clearly, I believe dreams are important for us. They are like doors to our subconscious; or they very well could be from God – the Holy Spirit leading us to “see” something we are missing when we are awake. The Bible gives us several stories where God has messages to people through dreams. He shows Joseph (in Genesis 37) important things for his life and the life of those around him through dreams. He sends an angel to another Joseph in a dream, who was to be married to Mary (Matthew 1) to assure him that it is good to continue with the marriage, even though Mary is pregnant. Spiritual directors often guide us to keep a journal beside our bed and when we wake from a dream, immediately write down what we remember so the next day we can reflect on that dream and see if perhaps there is a message for us.
What are the secret doors in your life? Are they dreams that take you to a special place? Are they doors waiting to be opened to reveal something to you – perhaps a beckoning call by God, or a revelation about yourself – maybe helping you to come to terms with something in the past, or to help you see your self-worth or ability.
M.E. Miro wrote: “Approach this new door with great confidence in your heart, for you have so much to offer. Open each new door with trust, holding your dreams very near … knowing the world is waiting for the goodness and the love you carry within you.”
Whether it is a door in a dream while you sleep or a dream that is in your waking consciousness, I hope you will consider opening that door and discovering what lies beyond for inside may be a wealth of promises and invitations and encouragement from the One who has called you to rise up and follow him; who has spoken to you and will strengthen you to be all he has created you to be.
Look for them. Those secret doors are everywhere.
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Be sure to listen to this beautiful song, sung by Cindy Powell, my amazing sister.