Subject: Dreams & Visions & Tongues
Long ago, over 20 years now, I had a dream from God that changed my life. In Jan. of 1976, I was living with my boyfriend when I got saved through COBU. No one even remotely told me I was "living in sin," and up until the day before I would have argued my point to the death that no one had a right to do so. But the Holy Spirit has a way of cutting through argument right to the heart.
Anyway, the fellowship in New Brunswick, NJ was very big on reading the Bible, and gave me a Gospel of John that I hungrily "consumed" the very night I got saved. My boyfriend also made a profession of faith about 2 days after me, and he initially took it very well when I told him the news of my own salvation. All in all about 8 people, including my brother John, and Liz (Harrison) Lyons, got saved because I did. But my boyfriend got influenced by friends that told him maybe he shouldn't be so "gung-ho into Jesus" and he lost his initial zeal after the first couple of weeks. It was mid-January that year, and we actually told both sets of parents that we wanted to get married on Valentines Day. And we were making plans that way....
Then, maybe a psychologist could say deep down I was apprehensive, whatever, but God knew my inner heart. I had this dream:
A lamb was walking along a path going to the mountains with lots of other sheep. The lamb got distracted and started wandering off to the side, getting closer to the side of the cliff than was safe. There were brambles over there. The hand of the Shepherd took the little lamb by the side of the head and pointed its nose in the right direction towards the path where the others were going up into the foothills. The finger of the hand pointed to the lambs nose, rising up and down as if to gesture, "Okay now, you know better. Stay with the others."
That's all. And I realise it is simplistic. But it was extremely personal, and you know who the lamb is I bet. So, I moved into the fellowship and I didn't marry the guy. It was very hard at that time for me to choose that way. But, I am soooooooo glad, lookingback now with my good Christian husband, Jim, and 3 kids, that God intervened! Because, (not due to my getting more committed either, he approved at the time), my boyfriend did not stay faithful, but backslid. I must say that later it sort of "freaked" me when Stewart did that pointing to the nose thing to Gayle in at least one meeting.
Another dream I had while I was in the Fellowship was so real, it was life changing. It came at a regular time, things were going along normally, (well, as normal as you could expect in COBU) when I lived in 406 W. 48th with Irene and Jim lived downstairs. This was the dream: I was driving in a big black car with a bunch of Hassidic Jewish men. It wasn't what you would think - instead of being solemn, these boys were yucking it up, laughing. I was also laughing, unaware of where the car was heading. Suddenly, we went into a short tunnel, which was actually going into the stone wall of a walled city. (The Cloisters Art Museum in NYC had sort of a similiar wall but this wasn't exactly that). We got out of the car, and I was still joking and laughing with these guys, their curls hanging down around their beards, and me not looking where I was going. Then, suddenly, I was at the foot of the Cross, and Jesus was hanging on it, right there in front of me. I mean, it was graphic. And I realized that where I was, in this walled city, represented the moment in time where Jesus is eternally dying for the sins of the world. Now, I know that may seem very Catholic in theology or something, but it was extremely intense in the dream. I was being allowed to see Jesus dying FOR ME. I couldn't really look at Him. I knew I was a sinner. I took it all so glibbly. I threw myself down around the base of the Cross. I did truly begin to sob and say over and over "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy...." (words I have since heard people use in mockery, and it cuts me to the quick because of this reaction of my spirit). As I sobbed and sobbed, it felt like a liquid poured over me, warm, covering my head, running down my back.... I woke up in this state of deep spiritual repentance and yet blessing. Since that time, in a Baptist bookstore I came across a picture of an angel flying with a woman in [its] arms, and they are viewing a walled city, with a hill inside on which you can see 3 Crosses, the largest one in the middle. The woman's long hair looked like mine, and I bought a small version to make a magnet for my 'fridge, because the walled city with the Cross speaks volumes to me. I think of it as a sort of spiritual reality that I have been to the foot of the Cross. It is marvelous and extremely terrible. I could never have made any of this up myself, and I believe this was a work of God in my inner soul.
Since leaving Cobu, I have also had other occurances that I have thought of as visions. Once, driving along home from a night class, I had a wonderful impression that only lasted a moment but was very poignant to me. I was fully awake, but I was praying as I drove along. I saw Someone wearing an ancient helmet, the image being only from the chest up. He reached up with both mail-gloved hands, and took the helmet off, from His mail-armored shoulders. Then He shook out His hair, which fell to His shoulders, and SMILED, sort of chuckling just a bit. Just that fast. And I had the impression of the verse from Proverbs 31 that says: "She laughs at the time to come." I took this to mean just the kind of reassurance that He was with me, and that looking to the future should seem like a "piece of cake," if I could hold onto that concept. Even now, I can think about that smile,(like that knowing kind of smile of your very best friend, whose face you'd recognise even if you didn't see them in person for a while and only talked on the phone), and still get an image that comforts my heart. Sometimes in worship, when we sing and stand in placing moving to the worship music, I'll shake my hair, because it was so carefree, the image of being in armor, but so confident of victory to smile like that, to let me in on seeing that smile! He is so victorious!
It was not too long after I had this impression that I faced a very difficult trial, and through a deep desire to express my heartfelt anguish to God more, He graciously baptized me in the Holy Spirit and at that time I began to speak in tongues. This was at the altar of the church where I worked as a church secretary, and the liberal pastor there would never have understood. Let me explain. I was going through so much that at my lunch I would covertly listen to a Christian radio station (the pastor did not approve) to an Assembly of God pastor who taught on the baptism. That is why I asked God for it. Truly, I thought I would have to go see the preacher and have hands laid upon me to receive the gift, but God surprised me. I had prayed to speak in tongues before, and as a lamb I prayed every day to prophesy, because the Scripture said to "earnestly desire" that gift. When I lived in an apt. with Debbie Young I heard her praying sometimes, and I would hear others pray in tongues, but for many years I never had the gift. I even wondered that because I was involved in some occult activities before I got saved if God would even give me that kind of "supernatural" gift.
I would regularly go to the altar to pray during lunch hour, and hope no one would come in to ask for anything. One day, thankfully no one was there, and at the altar I went into prayer, and suddenly was talking in another language. Actually, I think there are different languages, plural, and singing. The church across the street had hymns on their bells, and one day "For The Beauty of the Earth" was playing. I asked God if this was a true language if that song was in the language, as I had done a summer missions trip to Haiti once (through the college Jim and I attended after COBU) and heard English hymns in their language. (I don't know the English lyrics but I could look it up in a hymnal if I wanted). Well, maybe you could think it was like a kazoo, where you hum the tune and could say other words or something, but it came out like a real verse structure. This surprised me also!
But that's a subjective observation I admit! This didn't happen with just any other hymns, and I can't just "do it" which is reassuring to me in some way, as I don't understand how this "tongues thing" works, it is too sacred to mess with. I had a friend say, "maybe you should record it on tape and try to analyze it" (I have had ethno-linguistics and socio-linguistics classes, and I am currently taking a Linguistics course) but that whole idea repulses me. I do try to "listen" analytically to some degree, that's okay, like looking for voiced and non-voiced constanants, and if I can understand or interpret any of it (which I can't ... yet). It's not like you're "possessed" against your will, but it does feel like "holy madness."
There was a Christmas carol tune that was like that too, and what was cool to me was that because I do know the English I recognized the name of "Jesus" in that language, and it was appropriate seeming. I can't "remember" these songs and sing them later. I am only very edified personally by them, and would not feel that I should stand up publically and do such a thing; it is between God and me. I also don't even want to seem even a little bit like I think I am some spiritual "heavy" because this happened to me. If you only knew what was going on in my heart at that time, you would see it was an extreme mercy that God proved Himself to me in such a way, and gave me a "short-cut" to expressing my inner need. Instead of tongues coming as some kind of badge of honor, I believe this was given to me in my utter weakness to bear me up when I was in serious danger of falling. I also still do not believe it is necessary for evidence of salvation. But, like Paul, I wish everyone could have this experience, and receive the personal edification it gives.
There was a time at the altar that I really felt like I "travailed" in prayer. I kept at it, and didn't know what it was that my spirit was so troubled with, until later that day. I got one of the best calls of my life when a woman called the church looking for the pastor. Knowing what kind of liberal @#%* he would tell her, and since he was out playing golf or something anyway, (and the bulletins were typed), I had a great chance to witness. She said to me "Wow, with all the things you are telling me, it is like you can see into my heart," and right then I just knew she was the one I had been "travailing for." Later in the conversation she revealed lots of personal stuff, like she wanted to repent of prostitution. I want to end the story that she got saved, but she wanted to talk to a pastor still, so I refered her to a better guy in town!
I want to know about something that I am not sure if it is prophecy or what. One time I had to go on a job interview to a Christian radio station. Suddenly, an alternative route how to get there, like a mental map image came to me. No, I thought, why should I go that way, its longer. Sure enough, I got caught in traffic. I did have a chance to cut down a side road, and eventually go the way I had "thought of" before, which brought me out further down the major highway I needed to travel. And sure enough, the traffic was backed up just from that point where I entered the highway, I could look down and see the problem and if I had gone by "the map" I wouldn't have been stuck. (I did not get the job, nor was I even late). What is that? Should I have "obeyed" this prompting? I didn't look at it as right or wrong, just informational.
Another time, I was driving with my kids, and as I came around a corner into our small town I had a sharp impression which in English would translate like "Be Safe." So, I questioned the kids, "Does everybody have their seat belts on?" They were all little and prone to swirming out of them. Minutes later a woman pulled out in front of me like I was invisible, and I had no choice but to hit the side of her car. Thankfully, at that moment, as I tried to avoid her, (in a 25 mile an hour zone downtown) I remembered that the kids were okay. (The witness told the cops "that lady didn't have a prayer; she had to hit the woman's car," speaking of me... I thought that was odd language, that truly I didn't have even a moment to pray, but God knew what would happen and told me to be ready for something, but I didn't know what). In the long run, although my car needed to be replaced which was a hassle, since Jim was to use that car (stationwagon) to deliver a some handmade furniture that weekend, the lady's insurance had to replace it with a van, and our whole family was able to go out of state to visit Christian friends together.
But it is still very mysterious to me that I got that kind of warning - it was so clear! Is this angelic or prophecy, or what? Somebody said maybe it is word of knowledge, but I always thought that was given for someone else. I have other experiences that I would love to relate, but I've been writing too long and need to "get back to reality." The REAL reality is found in some of these precious moments with Jesus, a reality we will live in forever sometime. I hope these incidents will bless the reader, and you are welcome to comment through my e-mail address. Nancy Coogan