Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

Last Sabbath, I confess, God gave me a jolt. It was as if I had been struck by lightning. It was not the dangerous discharge of uncontrolled energy from the sky, but a brilliant flash that revealed the power of His presence.

On the Friday, I had tried to tune myself into what God wanted to say to our congregation through Ephesians 5. Verse 1 says ‘Be imitators of God’ and I had gone to bed reasonably happy with the sermon I had written. On Sabbath morning I awoke at 5am, which is very unusual for me. I’d had a memorable dream, and, for the first time in my life, God seemed to be saying, ‘tell your dream to the congregation.’

I’ve had too many negative encounters with people who have wanted to tell others about their dreams, so immediately dismissed the idea as a bad one! I reasoned that Joel 2.28 is for the future and not the present. It will only be during the arrival of the latter rain that His Spirit will be poured out when old men will dream dreams. I have tried interpreting dreams in the past and decided that my dreams were more the result of something I’d eaten rather than the movement of the Holy Spirit.

As I prayed, the prompting to tell about this dream grew stronger, so I gave in and found a way of weaving it into my sermon. In the dream I was walking down a corridor and noticed a woman who I thought looked a bit like Vivienne, a friend from student days. Vivienne was a beautiful, musical, vivacious and spiritual friend. In the dream she turned away, seeming not to notice me while concealing a half smoked cigarette in her hand. It can’t be Vivienne I thought. It had been many years since we had seen each other but I was sure she would never smoke!

After some time in the dream, my wife Karen and I entered a large room and started talking to different friends. In the corner I recognised Vivienne whom I had seen in the corridor. However, her friends were calling her Annette. Eventually Karen and I talked with her. She said that Annette was the new name she had adopted to let everyone know she was a different person.  She said that in the past, like when she had tried to avoid me recognising her in the corridor, she had given the impression of being a happy Christian.  But the truth was that she had always lived two lives. Now as ‘Annette’ she wanted to live an honest and authentic Christian life.  She said that she wanted people to know that being a Christian could be an up and down ride, and she wanted to be transparent about the struggle and no longer pretend.

Before sharing this story in the sermon I mentally checked that there were no Annettes or Viviennes in our congregation. It was then a real surprise at the end of the service to meet a visitor who asked me about my dream. She said she felt the dream spoke to her, as a confirmation of God’s call to her life. She had been training to serve God and felt called to help create authentic and honest Christian communities. After she inquired again, I confirmed that I very clearly heard Vivienne say her new name was Annette!! Then she said, ‘My name is Annette!’

I was shocked, as I realised that God had spoken to me through a dream. I learned in a dramatic way that God still uses supernatural intervention.

It has been humbling for me to realise how easily I have dismissed the voice of God in my life. With the confirmation of His leading through this dream, I am praying that I will always be quick to listen to my Lord’s direction.

·       How is the Holy Spirit trying to communicate with you?

  • How can we listen to the important things the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us?
  • How can we be more authentic Christians, whose beliefs, values, words and actions are honest and consistent, and where we don’t pretend and wear masks to make us look good to others or to hide our struggles and distress?

Come Holy Spirit, come!

Pastor Bernie Holford