Dr. Swisher, Where do dreams come from?   Gwen, Oregon, Ohio  

Hi Gwen, thank you for this intriguing question. According to the Bible, a vision is something that occurs when we are awake, while a dream is something that occurs when we are asleep. Scientists and psycho analysts who study dreams say that we are always dreaming when we sleep, but we only remember the dreams right before we wake up. This would fit with Scripture verses where men and women remember a dream that actually woke them up from a sound sleep.  

As you know, dreams can appear very real.  Sometimes we may wake up happy, sad, hopeful or worried, scared or empowered, yet we soon realize those emotions were produced by a dream. The Bible relates to this in Isaiah 29:8; "It will be as when a hungry person dreams and behold they are eating; yet when they awake the hunger is not satisfied, or when a thirsty person dreams they are drinking, yet when they awake the thirst is not quenched." That's often the reality of dreams. It may appear real for a moment but upon reflection we become aware it was simply a figment of our subconscious mind. Because of this, dreams routinely bypass our self-defense mechanism and our preconceived or even programmed notions about our strengths and weaknesses. By going beyond the walls of defensiveness we are able to see the true motive of our hearts. This allows us to listen to God and to enter a whole new place of achievement, healing or level of faith.  

Sigmund Freud studied dreams for years and stated, "Your dreams reveal your repressed wishes to you." Dr. Freud may have had an interesting observation, However, I  believe that God places dreams in our hearts. This type of idea was referred to in the ancient world as a vision.  People in business might refer to this as a goal or strategy or proposal. As people of faith we believe that God inspires dreams within us and we then have the choice to follow that dream or to put it on the back burner. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of people who went down both of those paths.  

One of my mentors Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale put it this way, "God plants dreams in your being and He helps those dreams come true through the Holy Spirit inside of you. Get a goal and believe in it and trust God to help you and never give up until you attain your goal." If you were to visit my home you would see on my kitchen counter a framed photo of multiple Olympic Gold medalist Greg Louganis who inscribed it to me with this phrase, "Always believe in yourself."    

The key to living a happy, fulfilled and productive life, Gwen is to couple these two ideas, Believe in God and Believe in yourself. When you do dreams even those of long lasting can be reinvigorated and come back to dynamic life. My advice to you and all of your faithful weekly readers is this: Fling open the doors, dream Big dreams and then move forward in faith watching as those dreams come to fruition.