The Beautiful Woman Appears Again
In my last post I wrote about how the Holy Spirit first appeared to me as a beautiful bride coming down from heaven, bringing the words of John the Baptist alive: “the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove” (Lk. 3:21-22).
In this post, I’ll describe how the Spirit again appeared to me in a dream. This dream took place only months after the first dream, but this time the Spirit wasn’t a bride. Instead, she was my best friend.
In this new dream I was at an art show. The floor was grey concrete and the windows were stunning large rectangles. Paintings of various sizes lined the walls — all of them were abstract, modern art. I love modern art. I was definitely in my happy place. I was also with a woman who I instinctively knew was my best friend, though I didn’t really recognize her (she looked like an ordinary, modern-day woman). She walked calmly behind me. (I could hear her footsteps as I examined the pictures.)
But soon my attention diverted to another young woman who stood at the back of the room examining a large oil painting. She looked rather simple, yet mysterious: her long brown hair was neat and pushed behind one ear; her modest sundress was plain but classic. Her hand clutched a curious, black book. The word “PROPHECY” was spelled out on the front cover. Energized, I quickly made my way over to her.
“Any new revelations?” I asked, motioning to her book.
Her eyes lit up and her childlike cheeks flushed with excitement. “Oh, yes,” she said.
Unfortunately, I soon came face to face with a dilemma. A question was posed to me by this “other” woman and I didn’t know how to respond. She told me her book said the extremely spiritual person would have a mark on their forehead. “I have the mark,” she said. “Do you have the mark?”
Well, for those readers who are familiar with the book of Revelation your minds are probably racing to either Revelation 7:2-4 where 1440 people from the tribes of Israel are sealed by God with a mark on their foreheads or else you are traveling to Revelation 14:9 where the mark of the beast is defined as the number 666 issued as a mark on the forehead or hand. However, my mind didn’t fly to either of these scriptures (probably because, at the time, I didn’t know the Bible very well). Instead, my mind turned envious.
I want to be as spiritual as she is! I want to say I have the mark!! (I thought this even though I knew I didn’t have any sort of mark on my forehead, at all.) I opened my mouth to speak, but suddenly my best friend rapidly approached me from behind yelling out, “Say, no!”
Instead I said, “Yes.”
As the lie left my lips, a dense fog engulfed me — it felt demonic. This evil presence flooded me making it impossible to see clearly. I couldn’t think either, like the fog was clouding my thinking. I stumbled around looking for some sort of demon. However, I couldn’t make out anything but the figures of two harmless-looking women.
I thought, Where is the demon that is attacking me? This isn’t making any sense! But somehow through all this I had it in me to turn to my best friend. She was my best friend, after all, and my heart trusted her.
Instinctively, I reached my hand out. Quickly and firmly, she grasped it. As our hands united, I suddenly remembered that same feeling — the feeling of overwhelming love and peace that I felt walking on the beach hand in hand with the beautiful woman during my first visitation.
Now, with our two fists clenched together, I was overcome with confidence. Turning to the other woman, I said, “God, show me the truth!” Immediately, the other woman burst into a black shadowy spirit and I cast it out of my dream in the name of Jesus. I woke up in awe, not of the powerful manifestation of the demon, but of my best friend — the Holy Spirit. She not only stood by me when I made a terrible mistake (following my own envious, self-seeking desires) but joined hands with me to help me through a demonic situation, revealing truth to me:
I will ask the Father [said Jesus] and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.” –Jn. 14:16
I awoke from this dream with the words “Holy Spirit” flashing through my mind. There was no time for pondering or guessing. The revelation was there. And now I had no choice but to question: Is the Holy Spirit a woman? Or did the Spirit simply appear to me as my “best friend” because “he” or “it” wanted to convey a simile such as “the Spirit should be like your best friend?” Still, what seemed to stand out most in my dream was holding the Spirit’s hand: her soft touch, her quiet, gentle appearance; yet, her strikingly bold absurdness. She was so incredibly real: to touch her, to hear her, to see her. The event all took place “in the spirit;” but still, she seemed to be a person in every way.
But was this even possible? Could the Holy Spirit be the original image of woman? My mind traveled back to a mysterious passage in the Bible that I had read as a new Christian — Revelation 12:1 When I first read about the woman in Revelation 12, I immediately recognized her as the Holy Spirit. I assumed the woman in Revelation 12 was the Holy Spirit because having recently been “born again” as I read, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17), I recognized myself as being one of those children.
I was “born” of the Spirit; I kept the commandments of God; I held the testimony of Jesus—she, then, was my mother. But after joining a (protestant, evangelical) church, and asking numerous annoying questions, things changed. I was taught that the highly honored woman in Revelation 12 wasn’t my mother at all. In fact, she wasn’t even a mother because she wasn’t real. She was simply a metaphor. Needless to say, I immediately put the imagery of Revelation 12 out of my head and got on with my life.
Now here I was, a few years later, being drawn again into the mystery of God as Woman.
There were a lot of questions running through my mind at this time, but the one thing I knew for sure was that the woman who appeared in my dream was somehow definitely the Holy Spirit, and seeing the Holy Spirit face to face — so to speak — well, it made me desperate to get to know him . . . it . . . errr. . . her?
Let Your Hand Become my Help!
Now I know there are many readers going, “Just because you had a dream with a woman who gave you council does not mean the Holy Spirit is a woman.” And I would wholeheartedly agree. The Holy Spirit often appears in dreams in many ways — all appearances acting as revelations. This dream didn’t absolutely convince me the Holy Spirit was the original image of woman. It merely started a prayer life in which I constantly asked God who the Holy Spirit is and how I could draw closer. I had been completely inspired by the dream, but not totally convinced.
Before the dreams started, the Holy Spirit was a mystery to me but now suddenly the mystery was taking on form. She seemed to be an actual person whom I (spiritually) saw and touched. I found myself wanting to be introduced to this person. After all, women don’t become best friends without knowing the most intimate details of each other’s lives. I wanted desperately to embrace the Spirit.
After this second dream, I was forever altered. I was now sure God was leading me to something important — toward deeper intimacy. I decided at this time to search the Bible for meaning and one of my first searches was on the holding of the woman’s hand. After all, that moment when I took her hand in mine made all the difference in my dream. Surely, if such an act were important, the Bible would tell me why:
Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts. –Ps. 119:173
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God. –Ps. 123:2
Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. –Ps. 139:10
Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes. –Prov. 1:24-26, bold added
This last verse, found in Proverbs, really had an affect on me. Here in Proverbs I found a woman called Wisdom, holding out her hand for the precise purpose of giving good counsel. I immediately thought of my dream, and how the Spirit told me to say “no” but instead I chose to say “yes.” This thought of “my not being able to control my tongue” brought to my mind a verse I had read in the past and so I immediately turned to the following verse in my Bible:
Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. –Jas. 3:5-17, bold added
My dream seemed to be a portrayal of what I read here in the book of James. As James points out, there is a wisdom that comes from below: self-seeking, envious, earthly, sensual, and ultimately — demonic. We’re attracted to this wisdom because of our desperate desire to obtain what we want. But in stark contrast to this is God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom comes from above: pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. –Gal. 5:22–25
Now, at the time, I already had a prayer life. I was praying every night and it was, by now, a deeply ingrained habit. I wasn’t some deep intercessory prayer person. In fact, I was spending only about five to ten minutes every night just talking to God. After this last dream, I was now asking God to lead me through to an understanding of what I was being shown regarding the Spirit and wisdom. “Please, God” I said. “I want to know who the Spirit is. I want to understand what you are showing me.”
I prayed every night in this way, but I wasn’t getting any more dreams. Instead, what happened is I began receiving a deep feeling of repentance. It was clear the Spirit was leading me through a season of introspection, so I prayed this verse: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23–24).
Throughout this time period (which seemed to last for months), I was led to repent of all kinds of things. It got to the point that I didn’t want to pray anymore because I knew the Spirit would just tell me more stuff that I should seek forgiveness for. But each night I went back to prayer, hoping this would be the final night of repenting, bringing a blessed end to this strange, uncomfortable period.
Then one night while I was in prayer I specifically felt led to pick up the phone to call my cousin whom I had an argument with a year prior. Sadly, our long friendship had crumbled due to an issue that really had nothing to do with us at all, but rather with other family members. I remember crying, explaining to the Holy Spirit that I just couldn’t do it. I was just too afraid to pick up that phone in case my cousin hated me — I didn’t want to know if she hated me. And I didn’t want to be laughed at or rejected. I actually had no ill feelings toward my cousin, but I suspected she might hate me. I did not call my cousin. Not that night or the next night and probably not the night after that. Each night during prayer I simply crumpled up on the ground and cried as the Spirit continued to urge me forward.
It was at this point that I got mad at the Spirit. I was angry that — night after night — she was putting me through so much emotional turmoil. I felt depleted. I told the Spirit I wanted to be the brave person and pick up the phone but I couldn’t do it. Then I asked, please Holy Spirit could you have my cousin call me instead?
The next morning the phone rang and yes, it was my cousin calling to ask if we could put this whole family drama behind us and be friends again.
In the end my cousin was the brave one. And whether she knew it or not, she obeyed the small, quiet voice of the Spirit. And I am so grateful she did! Thankfully, this was the last night of my “repentance period.” The next stage I would go through, however, would test my physical perseverance. I was about to learn that I was a drowsy disciple:
Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. –Mt. 26:41
The Spirit of Discipline
What I didn’t completely understand during this time was that the Spirit was taking me on a journey not just of “revelation” but of intense “discipline.” The Spirit trains us to both walk in relationship with her and to walk in love. This path requires a great deal of practice and patience as we learn to obey what the Spirit teaches. We may never have a dream or a vision where we “see” ourselves holding her hand, but nonetheless her hand is there for the taking and taking her hand puts us on a very different path:
For at first she [Wisdom] will walk with them on tortuous paths;
she will bring fear and dread upon them,
and will torment them by her discipline
until she trusts them,
and she will test them with her ordinances.
Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them,
and will reveal her secrets to them. –Sirach 4:17–18 (NRSV with the Old Testament Apocrypha)
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. –1 Pet. 4:7–8
A prayer of Invitation:
Holy Spirit, Wisdom of God, I love that you know everything about me. I want to know more about you. I want to experience your wisdom and walk with your person. I invite you to “Let Your hand become my help.” I invite you to lead me. I invite you to train me. Teach me everything I need to know in order to walk with you in your perfect love. Amen.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. –Jas. 3:5-17
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. –Ps. 139:23–24
Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts. –Ps. 119:173