Faith Identity

Dreams From God

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Over the past few months I’ve been asking Jesus to search the pain in my heart and show me where the source is coming from … that which longs for delight and validation….and yet even now as an older man I still long for, and rightly so.

The Lord pulled the veil back on the wounds at the February 2020 Wild at Heart Men’s Boot Camp.  I cried like a baby as Jesus not only took me to the mat but placed his hand on me assuring me of his unfailing presence. The core manhood issues have been uncovered and now as life continues, pages are turned and more is shown, of the pain and the place of healing.

As I read the Bible, pray, and talk with friends about my manhood wounds and journey, I’ve noticed dreams as well as speaking to the topic at hand.

Over these past few months, I’ve been having dreams that involve godly affection.  One was on a trail in the Rocky Mountains. I’m a pre-teen boy on an adventure. I’m on the trail alone. Or, at least if I was with others, they were far ahead of me and didn’t seem to notice I was lost.  Exhausted I sat down on a boulder.  My head in my hands. “Where am I?”

A voice speaks. “You are here with me.”.  I look up. It’s Jesus!  I run over and he invites me to sit with him. He puts his arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.  I feel safe. I tell him I’m scared, that I feel so alone on this trail. He pulls me even closer, my head is now on his chest.  I reach up and wrap my arms around him. I can feel doubt and fear go away.  I am safe and loved.  Getting off this mountain is now a non-issue. I am with the one who loves me most.

I had another dream. In this one, I was walking into a large room—many people around me. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I don’t see anyone I know. I feel out of place and alone as if no one cares about me. I scan the room until my eyes gaze upon one man. I know him! My heart leaps and I make a B-line for him.  He sees me, offers a smile, and lets me wrap my arms around him.  He’s taller than me. He bends over to hug me back. I feel his beard…the stubble scratching on my face. He’s calm and welcoming. I’m older than I was in the mountain trail dream. My heart feels more grown up. His arms around me felt present but not a squeeze like I experienced in the other dream. Jesus reminds me I am equipped by him and because of him, I have what it takes to be the man he’s making me into. 

It was Jesus. He gave me the sense I was fully free to do as I choose and was watching to see if I chose in line with his values; to see if I was a man willing to choose him over all things. It stemmed from an idea I read in Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God”.  To be fully independent is to also be fully dependent on God. That is, in my autonomy as a man with free will, I am also fully indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit. In my choosing, He is waiting to see if I choose in line with his will and purposes, by his power, or if I will do my own thing.  Meeting Jesus in that large room and feeling his scratchy beard reminded me of the realness of his presence with me. 

Most of my dreams are in color and very much alive. Others are a bit fuzzy like a video chat that keeps cutting out.  This third dream is a bit like that. I’m lying down somewhere, alone, napping. I sense someone approaching me. Whoever it was was gentle and very aware that I was sleeping. They pulled the blanket up around my neck, leaned over putting their hand gently on the side of my face. Whoever it was was well-pleased and loving towards me. As if appreciative of me and the impact I’ve had on their life.  With no interaction with this person (I was napping), my heartfelt delight and validation. I felt settled, rested, and loved.

Was that Jesus? I don’t know. Perhaps it was someone I knew who came to my side while I was napping. Perhaps, in some semi-conscious way, I was aware of what was truly happening. 

The desire for delight and validation is not unique to me. We each want it. I’m convinced God placed that longing in each of us. As I tell men in conversation… “ from the day you were born till the day you die, each of us is longing for someone to delight in us… to believe we have what it takes to do the next thing in life.”

Deep down one’s dad should be the single most consistent voice championing those two things in your life. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Perhaps due to their lack of hearing delight and validation as they grew up, they have not seen the purpose and value of affirmation and delight. Their insecurities and failings take so much energy they have little to offer you, their son. 

If that is your story, I am sorry. Sorry that your dad or other significant male influence didn’t invest in you in ways that spoke to the God-shaped hole in your heart. Frankly, that story happens far more than any of us realize. Passivity among men is a malady for many wounded relationships.  If we dug into the layers of Jesus’ childhood and young adult years, I suspect his dad Joseph had his flaws that impacted Jesus’ longing for delight and validation. 

Jesus was the firstborn of Mary and Joseph. They had other sons and daughters; at least four children. A house of six or more has a bunch of commotion. If they are not intentional, parents cannot give each kid the attention needed. Perhaps, Jesus’ time in the shop with his dad brought some good on-the-job skill training and some intentional time. I don’t know.  I do know Joseph died sometime after Jesus was 12. The Bible doesn’t say. Perhaps, Jesus was in his teens or early twenties when Joseph died. We do know that by the time Jesus started his ministry at age 30, Joseph had passed away.

How does a young man deal with the loss of his dad? I am projecting the best on Joseph in that he was intentional with Jesus. That Joseph believed in his son with extreme confidence. The fact that when his family traveled back from Jerusalem to Nazareth, they traveled for a day before they realized Jesus was missing, is a clear example that Jesus was becoming his own man; he didn’t need to be kept underfoot. 

There is a sense of loss when a dad is missing from a young man’s life. Perhaps your dad was around the house when you grew up. Maybe he was a good dad, albeit, could have been better at pursuing your heart as a young man. As you launch into your adulthood, hearing from your dad “Good and well done, son” would take you for miles along your manhood journey.

When Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist baptized him in the Jordan River, a voice from heaven spoke. “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased,”  God spoke his eternal delight and validation of his son, Jesus. What more could a man want? 

And, there you have it. Regardless of your dad’s efforts in the area of affirming you, good, bad, or absent, in Christ, you can hear the same words Jesus’ heavenly Father spoke to him. 

“You are my son, with whom I am well pleased.”

You and I are not deities, but, if we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in us, and by his presence, you and I are his sons. Regardless of what the world shouts at you, you are a son of your Heavenly Father. He sees you, draws you close, puts his arms around you, rubs his scratchy beard on your face, and speaks into your ear:

“You are my son, with whom I am well pleased.”

What dreams have you had recently?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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