Jacob left the town of Beersheba and started out for Haran. At sunset he stopped for the night and went to sleep, resting his head on a large rock. In a dream he saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven, and God’s angels were going up and down on it.
The Lord was standing beside the ladder and said:
I am the Lord God who was worshiped by Abraham and Isaac. I will give to you and your family the land on which you are now sleeping. Your descendants will spread over the earth in all directions and will become as numerous as the specks of dust. Your family will be a blessing to all people. Wherever you go, I will watch over you, then later I will bring you back to this land. I won’t leave you—I will do all I have promised.
Jacob woke up suddenly and thought, “The Lord is in this place, and I didn’t even know it.” Then Jacob became frightened and said, “What a frightening place! It must be the house of God and the gateway to heaven.”
When Jacob got up early the next morning, he took the rock that he had used for a pillow and stood it up as a place of worship. Then he poured olive oil on the rock to dedicate it to God, and he named the place Bethel. Before that it had been named Luz.
Jacob solemnly promised God, “If you go with me and watch over me as I travel, and if you give me food and clothesand bring me safely home again, you will be my God. This rock will be your house, and I will give back to you a tenth of everything you give me.” (Contemporary English Version)
“Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse.“Carl Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 10
Not all unconscious dreams are the same, any more than all conscious experiences are alike.
Some dreams are not much more than a thing which occurs while we’re sleeping; they’re akin to the tedious or pedantic things we do while awake. Yet, other dreams are loaded with symbolic significance and have complex patterns of organization and relating.
However, all dreams which we carry with us into conscious waking – no matter whether mundane or extraordinary – are telling us a similar message: “Hey! Pay attention to this!”
In other words, our unconscious brains are usually aware of what we need more than our conscious minds; and dreams become the vehicle by which our unconscious alerts our conscious selves of something we need to focus upon.
Jacob needed to pay attention to something that he was not consciously aware of. Before his dream, Jacob had left home at the behest of his aging father. Mom and Dad wanted Jacob to have a good wife, so they sent him off to a specific place to find one.
Now, mind you, Jacob was a mama’s boy; he stuck close to home and was attached to his mother. Off on his first outing away from familiar confines, Jacob would have been understandably anxious and fearful. Although he had the blessing of his parents, Jacob’s unconscious self knew he also needed the blessing of almighty God.
So, the Lord showed up in a dream. To Jacob’s credit, he paid attention by acknowledging the importance of the dream. Jacob also made the Lord a promise that he would give back a tenth of anything and everything he acquired because of God’s blessing.
I wonder: How many times do you and I fail to acknowledge that the Lord’s presence is in the very place we are? Maybe our dreams are trying to tell us something – that the God of all things, including dreams, is with us in our own particular place and situation.
It can be frightening to be in a new place or new situation that you’ve never been in before. Yet, there is no place any of us can go where God is not already there.
You have looked deep
into my heart, Lord,
and you know all about me.
You know when I am resting
or when I am working,
and from heaven
you discover my thoughts.
You notice everything I do
and everywhere I go.
Before I even speak a word,
you know what I will say,
and with your powerful arm
you protect me
from every side.
I can’t understand all of this!
Such wonderful knowledge
is far above me.
Where could I go to escape
from your Spirit
or from your sight?
If I were to climb up
to the highest heavens,
you would be there.
If I were to dig down
to the world of the dead
you would also be there.
Suppose I had wings
like the dawning day
and flew across the ocean.
Even then your powerful arm
would guide and protect me.
Or suppose I said, “I’ll hide
in the dark until night comes
to cover me over.”
But you see in the dark
because daylight and dark
are all the same to you. (Psalm 139:1-12, CEV)
The Lord is with you. Your dreams have already confirmed it.
O God, give me strength for this day, and not to turn coward in the face of difficulty or duty. Let me not lose faith in other people. Keep my heart pure and caring, free from all ingratitude or meanness. Open wide the eyes of my soul so that I may see the good in all things. Grant me today a new vision of your truth; and for tonight, may the Lord Jesus be in my dreams so that I might awake again and serve him in joy and gladness, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.