When, without any conscious idea or plan to copy the lives of literary protagonists, we find our own life forms a narrative not unlike that of literary fiction, it is naturally to speculate on the nature of the Author of our lives . When we are authors ourselves, and reflect just as often and just as painfully on how our own authorial works are seen by others, including those whom we write about, we wonder how it is that others view our hearts when they see the artifacts of our minds in our texts. Perhaps not everyone is so neurotic and reflective that they think of these matters, but I am and so I do. Wrestling with how people view me as an author and wrestling with how I view God as an author are for me different aspects of the same task, for insofar as I am aware of my own nature and my difficulties in making that nature known and in being seen for who I am, I gain an unpleasant if incomplete understanding of how it must feel in God’s own dealings with me and with other people.
It ought to come as no surprise given my haunted dream life that I have long been puzzled by the way that God speaks in dreams in the Bible. In the book of Esther the survival of the Jews hangs on a single night of bad sleep in which Mordecai is found to have not been honored for his loyalty to the king, which turns the entire story from a threat of Haman’s final solution to a glorious victory against anti-Semitism. Likewise, the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams of glory came about through a double set of dreams that the Pharaoh had, which only worked out because Joseph had previously interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants when they were fellow political prisoners. Daniel twice interprets the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, once with a death sentence hanging over his head. The Bible places a great deal of importance on sleep and the disruptions of sleep are often greatly significant. Is it little wonder that an insomniatic cursed with high degrees of anxiety and PTSD with a dream life that is truly bizarre in the highest degree would find such matters significant? Yet it should be noted that dreams are no shortcut to trusting the heart of one’s author. One story among many should suffice. About a decade ago on the Feast of Trumpets I had a dream that involved the seventh trumpet and rising from the earth into the first heaven, one of the best known aspects of the symbolism of the day. Two aspects of the dream stand out as being particularly odd. The first is that one of my friends and brethren happened to have been dying at that time from esophagus cancer, and so I took the dream as not being symbolic of myself personally but as a message of peace concerning my dead friend. The second part of the dream that stands out to me even now is the feeling of stark horror I felt at the dream. Even if it had been meant as a message of peace to me personally, it did not feel that way.
This particular example, and more could be given, is an instance of a larger difficulty, and that is that a message that is sent is not the same as the message that is received. I could multiply examples of messages I have sent that have not been received as I sent them, and no doubt such messages could be multiplied by readers who reflect on the examples in their own lives. If we view God as the pursuer of us in some sort of cosmic romance where God seeks to woo fallen mankind to repentance and reconciliation with him, it obviously will not do to have people feel a sense of horror about one’s attempts at friendly communication. We want to be on neither side of that horror, on the side feeling horrified that someone is trying to communicate with us or on the side that others are horrified about. Yet this has generally been the way that mankind’s interactions have been with God since the fall. After partaking the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve sought to hide from God, after all. And while Abraham was a friend of God who walked with Him and spoke with Him face to face, God came to Jacob in an all-night wrestling match that ended up in a permanent limp from a dislocated hip, which is a lot more how my interactions with God would be likely to go. We recognize that we are fallen and deeply flawed, and the thought that God wants intimacy with us is terrifying. It must be at least as terrifying as it is for those young ladies with whom I have wanted intimacy, which makes me very sad on several levels.
Yet the only way to have a trust in someone’s heart is to have a relationship with them, to see what kind of people they are when there is no ceremony. Is God the sort of being who would give you a high five or a high four in volleyball practice and cheer on your good shots and your attempts, even if they did not go exactly as you planned? Would He strike up a conversation with you as you waited in line at a potluck, or would you share an inside reference of a song, or would He give feedback about a message you were preparing? Perhaps so, or perhaps not. Clearly He would be a being one would view with a great deal of respect, but that need not mean that relations could not be friendly or even easy. To be sure, I am not someone who has tended to have easy relationships with the two groups of people I would most like to get along with, namely authority figures and potential love interests, but just because it has not been my experience that such relationships are easy and stress-free does not mean that such bliss is not possible, only that I have yet to find it. Yet how is God to interact with us in such a way that we show Him the respect He is due, but that we get to know His heart and relate to it and trust it to be kind to us. And how can people learn to trust our hearts and their goodness as well? As is often the case, there are many questions and not many answers.
 See, for example: