Old Men Will Dream Dreams: This pastor doesn’t advocate hearing voices, but he happened to hear one

All pastors are crazy; I've known that since seminary. Some pastors, however, have fewer cards in their decks than others. Nick Overduin, pastor of Toronto First Christian Reformed Church, began to question his own sanity after an experience that was beyond explanation.

Overduin now believes God was in this encounter. You may believe otherwise. In either case, reading Nick's account has made me wonder - as more church leaders are rethinking the nature of ministry in a post-Christian culture, is it also time to rethink our assumptions about the supernatural, and its place in our communities?

Who wants to be known as a crazy nut-case preacher that hears voices? I don't advocate hearing voices; I just happen to have heard one.

I did not hear any strange "voices" in my first church. Nor did I feel distracted by the supernatural during my second charge, a University Chaplaincy. In my third posting I was perhaps too busy to hear any divine whisperings. My congregation had 800 members. My fourth church is conceivably the most implausible setting for a semi-mystical deviation. Many of its 120 members are certified experts, executives, or independent entrepreneurs. My wife Nandy and I have been married 25 years, and at first I didn't tell even her. I am writing the episode now partly because I believe it could be sinful to keep it to myself.

About three years ago I woke up one night very suddenly. It was as if I had been jerked from deep sleep into alert wakefulness in less than a second.

I was surrounded by a darkness that seemed thicker than usual. It felt like something or someone ominous was in the room with me.

The blackness around the bookshelves in my office where I had fallen asleep was so substantial that I could see nothing. The space was filled with a conspicuous and crushing sense of dread. My fear increased when I realized that I had been rendered immobile, as if a great weight had been placed over my entire body. I was pinned down.

I began to pray with every fiber of my being. Wouldn't almost anybody have done the same, whether they believed in God or not? Physically, the prayer required fierce resolve just to bring my hands together. I knew it was permissible to pray without folding hands, but for some reason I wanted desperately to fold my hands. I felt I would be completely destroyed if I demonstrated the nerve to pray without first taking up this humble posture.

"What's wrong, God?" I asked when my hands were finally clenched. "Are you angry about something?"

Displaying 1–10 of 19 comments

theoldbill

September 14, 2006  8:45pm

oi, if that's how God feels about your Prayer of Repentence - can u imagine how he feels about this: http://www.united-church.ca/ucc/songfaith/pdf/sof_en.pdf - it's not a joke, some folk in my church really wrote this thing.

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len

September 13, 2006  10:16pm

These experiences are way more common than generally thought. I've had a couple, many of my friends have had a couple.. thankfully, the terror part is unusual. And then, of course, there are dreams. Job 33:13-18 Indeed, God speaks once, Or twice, and no one notices. in a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, Then he opens the ears of men..

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Lori

September 11, 2006  11:45am

The first thought that came to mind is 'God moves in mysterious ways'. A second thought, could it have been an encounter with 'the powers of darkness'. Certainly the devil is not pleased when Christians pray for forgiveness.

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Malcolm Dow

September 06, 2006  2:56am

It always intrigues me when people are surprised that God speaks to people. After all, the Bible (both OT and NT) is full of it, as is church history. It was such a relief when half-way through my Christian experience I eventually found out that prayer was indeed a conversation, not a monologue - such a relief that we now teach hundreds of people to hear God's voice for themselves - check out listening2god.com for example. Go for it Nick - it's great to get real with God!

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Greg Atkinson

September 05, 2006  4:52pm

Wow. That story is amazing. God can do, move and speak however He chooses - even audibly at 4am. May we never put Him in a box. Thanks for sharing such a personal encounter.

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BobMUK

August 31, 2006  2:59pm

So, I've no problem with this encounter. Moses & The Bush, The cleft in the rock, I bet he had to change his pants a few times . . . but bottom line is what did you DO about it? And for all the clever doubting detractors....surely God does speak to pastors/leaders. If he doesn't we're in deep trouble.

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LAWAL

August 30, 2006  4:23am

like someone said ,i think this was for him only and not for discussions with so many people.anyway,i also like to add that i believe God wants to have such chit-chat with us his people and not just the pastors.i mean i dont have any problem wih hearing from God.just ensure you get confirmation from Him in His word(best source of leading) before you do something stupid.and loosen up will you!

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Misteka

August 29, 2006  2:32am

Yeah, within a few paragraphs, I started thinking of sleep paralysis and the Old Maid phenomenon. Christians really underestimate or totally want to willfully disregard the power of the subconscious and the mind we have. We need a consummate, complete, grounded theology on the supernatural. Misteka.

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Paul

August 24, 2006  7:13am

Did this come from Larknews.com?

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Sheerahkahn

August 22, 2006  12:20pm

This is definitely a case of man bites dog. Congrats on talking to G-d, may you and him have further chit-chats about substansitive items that involve your work, your perceptions of the world, and your faith. Moving on!

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