Old Men Will Dream Dreams (Revisited): Was it really the voice of God?

Last month we shared the disturbing late night experience of Pastor Nick Overduin. While sleeping in his study Overduin had a frightening encounter with "The Voice." His experience started a conversation about our openness and skepticism toward the supernatural. Nick Overduin is back to respond to many of your comments and concerns, and to keep the conversation going.

I appreciate the comments that were made in response to my Aug. 18, 2006 article "Old Men Will Dream Dreams." I have searched the links regarding "sleep paralysis," and definitely resonated with those descriptions. I think, physiologically, this was my experience. However, according to my understanding of God as the Creator, such a scientific diagnosis does not eliminate the possibility that God was saying something to me precisely at such a time.

I believe God reveals himself through the normal processes of the world he made. If God would speak to us at all, it would usually be through phenomena that already exist, and that could include psychiatrically-tinged events such as "sleep paralysis."

People mentioned numerous reservations and red flags. I too have many. If everyone would start reporting events like this, I would likely become very skeptical of the whole business. One writer said, "What if it was the devil, trying to keep people from praying?" Good question. But as another writer said, the issue is "How did the experience stack up against the word of God?" The verse about God being irritated by long hypocritical prayers was, for me, a confirmation of the Voice's authenticity. But I concede, of course, that I will never know.

One writer asked, "What did you DO about it?" I emphatically refrained from using the experience as a piece of ammunition. At the time it happened, I was in the middle of an intense denominational controversy that lasted about four years. I did not feel it would be fair to bully anybody with what I thought I heard. I kept totally quiet about this experience. Now that the battles have subsided, I feel more comfortable with sharing.

Did I have a vested interest in my experience, e.g. was it my own subconscious speaking to me? Was I elevating my internal conviction to the heights of Sinai? I do not think so. I had not had this thought on my own (namely, that the official "Prayer of Repentance" was too long). Also, please note that God does not actually commit himself to any viewpoints or particular sides in our church conflict during the experience that I had. He simply demonstrates (if this was God) a loathing of hypocrisy, which is consistent with the character of Himself that he reveals in Holy Scripture.

Displaying 1–10 of 19 comments

Kelvin Lim

October 14, 2006  10:56am

when a dream or vision comes from God, it will be very peaceful and reassuring You will know deep down in your spirit that it is from God minus the fear factor Today we argue, debate, rationalise and compartmentalize yet I still believe that God still speak today We must have simple and believing faith to trust Him and He will surely speak to us Perhaps we are grown "too sophisticated" and seldom seem to hear from God for a long time hence listening from God is really a struggle. God is real He never change!

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colin

October 07, 2006  1:39pm

The pastor at our church just used the illustration of the young child up high on the monkey bars whose father coaxes him down by saying, "Trust daddy, just let go and jump, Ill catch you." The child does so and the father catches him. The pastor went on and told another story about a father who did the same thing with his child standing on the deck of their house. He said, "Son jump down to the ground and I'll catch you." When the little boy jumped, though, the father stepped out of the way and his son fell hard on the ground. The father turned to his son with his index finger gesturing for significance, saying, "Let this be a lesson to you, trust no one!" Unfortunately many of us have been burned time and again by charlatans, or even well meaning people with the lingering effects of last night's pepperoni still in their stomachs. They have told us, "God spoke to me last night and said . . . ." Does this mean that God doesn't speak through people? Not at all. What's interesting though is that in Scripture most of the events that describe situations where God reveals Himself and a Message through (and to people) leave the intended receiver (i.e. Moses, Isaiah and John at Patmos) in a state of awe, humility (unworthiness)and repentance. Perhaps if we could discern this as being true of those individuals who claim to speak with God's voice there would be less scepticism.

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Van Savell

October 05, 2006  11:02am

Wow! God does speak and sometimes out of darkness, not light. The question is not the atmosphere, but does it measure up to the standard. My concern is people who do not believe God speaks today. Several years ago my daughter broke off a serious relationship because God told her to. It hurt her deeply and she struggled, so she went to the counseling pastor of her church. The counselor did not know what to do with my daughter's comment, "God told me..." So she asked, "How do you hear from God." The answer is simple. By listening in the Spirit. This was extremely blog-worthy. Thanks

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Kathie Dooley

October 04, 2006  11:06pm

Dark and spooky is not God's style. Darkness is the absence of light. He is light. He may use irony and few words, but he isn't trite and silly. Remembering the scripture verse afterwards doesn't mean anything. Satan can quote scripture, and anyway, it would remind anyone of that verse, no matter who said it. But for contrast, God didn't reject the 119 Psalm as being too long, though it's much longer than this prayer and quite repetitive. God tells us to listen to his voice, but also to test the spirits and be discerning, because there are counterfeiters. But if there is a counterfeit, it is because there is a reality to be counterfeited. God desperately wants to communicate with us, even tells us to ask him questions. (Jeremiah 33:3) When he communicates with a voice, usually (not always) it is a gentle and quiet voice (even when he says stern things) that we hear in our heads rather than in our ears, and he uses normal conversational tones, not something slow and spooky. This sounds more like a halloween prank pulled off by a supernatural prankster. Most people assume that anything supernatural has to be God, but the Bible tells us clearly that there are evil spirits and they target Christians. In my 30 years on the mission field, I have experienced satanic counterfeits up close and personal (and been fooled at times), as well as hearing what was undeniably the Lord's voice many times in various ways. In my confusion caused by the counterfeits, I found that God uses even our mistakes to his glory and our good. It is commendable that you didn't use this experience as leverage in your denominational discussions and that you've had the courage to place it honestly before the Christian public. May God bless you and your ministry and fill you with wisdom and discernment.

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Pastor John Atkinson

October 04, 2006  11:22am

I guess I'm more concerned for any pastor who has not had an experience like this with God than I am for those who have. I'm not sure how any pastor could get through the challenges and struggles of leading a church without those moments when God personally gives you the strength to press on. And when it happens, you'll know it was God because science and medicine won't have the answers to explain it.

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Jere

October 04, 2006  10:09am

I have had an experience with God in my living room and it started with Him asking me to look up a word in the dictionary. From that point He called me to new path in my life. I also am a pastor but in my case instead of darkness, my living room became intensely bright at 11:00p.m. and I was "pressed" to my face. I was both fearful and warmed - it was an experience of complete awe. God's presence is just too huge to able to endure without His grace. I respect you for sharing this.

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Vivian Chen

October 04, 2006  7:44am

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. At times God will use different channel to "talk" to us and interesting to know that He has such a good sense of humour. I know we are always afraid to share our experience in our Spiritual experience with brothers and sisters wonder will we stumble others? or are we helping others to see God's different Characters? Thats why we have to pray for his discerning all the time. "We always only limit the Lord by only remembering what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past" - fm Oswald Chambers. Pray to God that your experenice will strenght your faith in Him.

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Michael

October 03, 2006  10:03pm

I agree to checks and balances on apparent supernatural encouters, but modern science is not, in my opinion, one of them. "Sleep paralysis" is simply a term used to describe a particular event or phenomena by scientists (who do not believe in supernatural events). Why do we accept this answer as being more valid that a mystical or superantural one? Who gave the high priests of western humanism the status of "all knowing" in such things? What Scripture describes as "demon possession" can be explained today as epilepsy or A.D.D. or some other "natural" illness. Drugs may "control" the symptoms, but does that mean there is no demonic or spiritual influence? If we begin with the assumption that the natural cannot be influenced by the supernatural, that assumption will control our conclusions. It is as much a belief system as any other, founded on faith in natural logic or wisdom. To believe in the God of the Bible is to believe in a spiritual realm that is greater than and permeates the natural realm. Who wants a God that can "disappear in a puff of logic"?

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Rose Pena

October 03, 2006  6:26pm

I believe God frequently speaks to us but often we are too busy "living" to hear Him. I KNOW he has spoken to me and when He does speak there is no question or doubt. He is and He does! It saddens me when people attempt to intellectualize God and become so analytical and rational that they miss Him altogether. I hope Pastor Nick will not depend on anyone else but God to validate this experience. Human wisdom is but folly in comparison to the omnipotence & omnipresence of our Creator. Fortunately,I was a child when God spoke to me and my mother was present. We were in the midst of the greatest recorded earthquake on Good Friday in Alaska. I am so grateful that God allowed me this experience. As an adult my faith has been challenged many times. However, when I recall this experience, I am renewed with an abundance of childlike faith. What a Blessing to KNOW that you know HIM! Peace & Blessings to all!

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Mary Heathman

October 03, 2006  12:12pm

The first time I heard the Lord speak to me, he said, "No." I remember thinking "I should have asked him an open-ended question!" I like the comment that whatever happened in this incident, it contained the voice of God. We do well in every circumstance to pay attention, pray for the Lord's mind and heart to guide and direct our analysis, and come to conclusions only after refusing "to lean on our own understanding, acknowledging him in all our ways." Then the scripture promises us that we can have the assurance that He is making our paths straight before us – Proverbs 3-5-6.

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