When I was growing up, my family was more or less C&E people. That is, we went to church on Christmas and Easter, maybe....and occasionally on the odd Sunday. Then, my mom found out the pastor was having an affair with one of the congregation, and that was it. She turned away from the church. I don't think she turned away from God, though, ever. Just people-run religion. I remember she put me in this vacation bible class when I was in elementary school one summer. I absolutely loved it, for some reason, but I wasn't much of a bible reader. But I loved sitting outside on the green grass at a park and listening to the teacher talk about God. Jesus was sort of an elusive character; he was a nice fellow with long brown hair, a white man, of course (!), and had a nice beard and nice white robes.
When I got older, I got disgusted with everything religious, particularly organized religion. Everyone who went to church seemed so pious, and save for the nativity scene at Christmas time in our home, Jesus was even further from my reality. I ran the gamut from agnosticism, atheism, paganism, you name it....I investigated it. I kept weighing whether it was necessary to be part of an organized body of people locked up in a building in order to believe in something.
Then one night I had a dream that I still see today, some 30+ years later. You know how you have nice dreams and you remember them for a while, but they eventually go away? You had some nice dreams a couple weeks ago, but now you probably can't remember them. Well, this one stuck.
I dreamt that I was walking along this beautifully lit staircase...not gold, not silver, just beautiful light. When I got to the place that I suppose I was to be, there in front of me was an incredible room. High ceiling, very spacious. All mosaics...completely covering the walls. Not "glowy" not anything obnoxious in splendor. Just very lovely. In the middle of this room was a man, sitting on a very plain structure. No throne, nothing fancy. He was nice looking, had shorter than shoulder length curly-ish hair and a nicely trimmed beard. His eyes were a lovely hazel brown. His skin was a lovely olive tone. I was, of course, compelled to walk to him. He had the most amazingly kind look on his face, and I could feel only...love...emanating from him. I will never forget. This was completely out of my realm of understanding.
He looked at me with such kindness, and simply said, "It's not HOW you believe, only THAT you believe."
That was it. When I woke up, I was just transformed. It would take many years to figure out the magnitude of those simple words. But from then on, I believed in the man and son of God, Jesus. That was indeed, Him. If I had a simple dream of Jesus, He should have looked like the Jesus I was exposed to in all the books, all the pictures. I was not prepared or taught to see a man that looked middle-Eastern.
When I went to college, I met a fellow that I fell for so hard that I figured we would be married one day. He was a Lutheran, and when we finally got to talking about spiritual matters, I told him about my 'dream.'
He actually got angry and told me that God doesn't talk to people like that, especially people like ME....that He reserves His words for 'special' people. I knew instinctively that God is bigger than any of us can comprehend...and He talks to ME...and He talks to YOU....because we are all 'special' people.
Mind you, I had fallen completely in love with this guy. But when I heard his words to me about this 'dream'.....I dumped him.
It was that significant. It still is.