These dreams I am relating all occurred around the same time. I cannot tell you for sure which one came first or over what length of time passed between them (weeks? months? years?), but to the best of my remembering they happened roughly in the order given.
In the third dream I saw an apple tree in a yard. The apples were ripe and falling into the yard and onto the street. But it appeared that no one gathered them. Some of the apples sat in the grass only slightly bruised from the fall. Others were rotting and some nearly completely spoiled.
The apples that fell on the road and sidewalk hit harder and bruised worse. And some of these apples were completely smashed from being stepped on or run over by cars.
My thoughts in the dream ran along the lines of this: "What a waste. These apples could be put to good use. Even the half rotten apples have a good part left to them. The bad could be cut off and the good could be used for apple sauce or apple butter."
But then I looked at the house in the yard. I knew who lived there. It was a former pastor of mine who was spiritually abusive. I knew that if I went up and asked permission to gather the apples that he would refuse. He wouldn't just tell me no. He'd shame me for ever thinking that I had any right to those apples.
In the dream I went away sad.
When I woke, I remembered the dream with remorse for the loss of the fruit and the hardness of heart of the owner. As I meditated on it, some thoughts came to me.
First, why didn't I go ask the pastor anyway about the apples? I didn't even try.
My internal response was that I knew the owner, I knew his response, and I wasn't up for the battering that would follow.
Next the thought came to me, Who said he was the owner? Just because he lived there, that didn't mean he owned the house, the yard, the tree, or the fruit. I didn't even question.
I had no answer for this. I just assumed that since he lived there, he owned it.
The next thought was this: Just because he set himself up as the land owner does not make him the land owner. The house, the yard, the tree, the fruit all belong to God. And the former pastor was being a bad steward of the fruit falling from the tree. I needed to find out from God what he wanted done with the fruit, not someone who raises himself up as an authority based on bullying, and power posturing.
As a result, I gained a new sadness. A sadness over my attitude that resulted in further neglect of the apples. Fortunately it became a turning point. I began to see things differently.
Of the three dreams I have gotten more mileage out of this one than the other two, though I needed all three together, each for it's own purpose.
I've related the neglected apples to children both in and outside the church.
I've also related the apples to people's talents being neglected because of false teaching by those who have set themselves up as leadership/landowners.
But as one man said about dreams. Usually the dream is to the dreamer, about the dreamer.
God wanted me to see that I have neglected my own giftings and talents due to false teachings. Some of them are gender related. Others were for different reasons, all based on the leaderships' desire to control and limit.
I needed to start seeing that God wanted more from me than the limitations places on me by others. But what? Where do I start?
Lord willing, I hope to start again with scripture. Around the same time of the dreams I felt impressed to study scripture that I avoided before. The funny thing about it is at that I didn't see the connection between the dreams and the scriptures until later.
Jeff Bettger no longer a pastor at Mars Hill Church
49 minutes ago