Many people are always trying to find some hidden meaning in their dreams. If they have some peculiar dream, they try to interpret it or to get somebody else to do so. Now, God is reasonable. He knows that we can better comprehend when we are awake than when we are asleep; so he usually communicates with us during our waking hours. We sometimes have very striking dreams, but this does not signify that the Lord originated them. I have known people to act very unwisely as the result of following dreams. One night a preacher, who was holding a series of meetings, dreamed of having a terrible fight with a great snake. When he awoke, he felt that surely the Lord was trying to show him something. He interpreted the dream to mean that somebody in the congregation was represented by that snake. The next day he told his dream in the meeting and said that he thought he knew who the snake was. He began acting upon his supposition. The result was that at least two of the congregation backslid over it, and the whole church was thrown into confusion.
A dream is a dream, and possibly not more than one in ten thousand come from God. There are times, however, when we may learn good lessons from our dream thoughts as well as from our waking thoughts. One such dream I once had, and the lesson I derived from it has been good for my soul. I dreamed that I stood beside a gigantic wild rosebush. In my hand I held one of the beautiful fragrant flowers. I looked at it and drank in its rich perfume, but I saw a great number of flowers, and I desired more than the one, so I held it in my left hand and began to reach up for others. They were very high, so I pressed against the outer limbs and stretched to my utmost, but they were too high; I could not get them. I stepped back from the bush. As I did so, my gaze fell upon the rose in my hand just in time to see its petals fall to the ground. In stretching for those beyond my reach, I had ruined the one that was already mine. I gazed upon the empty stem in my hand and at the bruised petals upon the ground with a feeling of regret.
The scene changed. I sat at a desk with pencil and paper, and in my dream wrote these words: "If you have but one rose, enjoy it to the full. Do not let its perfume be wasted upon the empty air, and its beauty go unnoticed, while you spend your time in vain longing for the unattainable." When I awoke I wrote down the words that I had written in my dream, and through the years they have preached to me many a sermon.
How natural it is for us to forget what we have while we look at others whom we think to be more fortunate! We look at the blessings that others enjoy and forget to be thankful for our own. We look at others' possessions, and because they are greater than ours, we fail to appreciate what we have. Our position in life may be very humble, but however humble, our life is full of blessings if we but have eyes to see them.
When I had this dream, my health was gone, and I lay alone in my bed throughout the long hours of the day while my wife was away working for our support. My eyes were so I could read but a very little. We had two rooms in a house with another family. All around us were people with health and plenty. I could easily realize the difference between my situation and theirs. Sometimes I would look out of the window and see people passing, strong and vigorous and care-free. I would hear the gay laughter and the sound of happy voices, while I -- there I lay suffering and alone. How easy it was to see their blessings! and in seeing theirs, how easy it was to forget my own!
But this dream came upon the morning of my birthday; and as I lay there thinking it over, I determined that in the coming year I would not let my one rose be spoiled because I was reaching for that which was beyond my reach. I decided to enjoy my own blessings. If others were more blessed than I, should I not rejoice in the fact? Longing to be like them would not make me so. If I had but little to enjoy, I would enjoy that little. So I began to look at my blessings, and as I looked them over I found them greater than I had supposed. I had many things to give me comfort. I had food to satisfy my hunger. I had a home and clothing. I had the loving care of a faithful wife. I had kind friends who gave to me freely of their sympathy and who were ready to grant my every wish so far as it lay in their power. Better than all else, I had the peace of God in my heart. I began to realize that my state might be far worse.
The more I thought, the more I saw for which to be thankful. The more I considered my blessings, the more I appreciated them. And many a time since have I looked out upon the passers-by or listened to their merriment, and have said to myself, "I would not exchange places with you; for I am saved; I have the treasure of God's love; I have the presence of the Holy Spirit; I have the joys of salvation; I have a mansion in heaven." I knew that most of the passers-by did not have these things, and so I was blessed more than they. What were health and strength when put to a wrong use? What were temporal blessings that ministered only to selfishness? What were the joy and gaiety that ignored God? What were the pleasures of sin, when they only laid up a harvest of sorrow? Ah no, I had no reason to envy them, for my blessings were greater and would not fade away like mist before the sun.
My brother, my sister, you may be happy in your own little corner if you will learn the lesson of enjoying what you have. Learn to be content with common things. Learn that the truest joy does not come from external things. It springs spontaneously from a contented heart. If God wills that you be situated as you are, will he not make you happy where you are? The Bible says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain ... Having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (1 Tim.6: 6-8). You may not have much of this world's goods; you may not have many talents; your blessings may seem few; but remember my dream message -- "If you have but one rose, enjoy it to the full." If another has both hands filled, he may enjoy them less than you enjoy your one, unless you look with envious eyes. Sometimes a little perfume is sweeter than an abundance. Do not spend your days in vain longing. Do not despise what you have because it is not greater. Cultivate the habit of thankfulness and appreciation. Be glad for what you have. Be contented. Better your condition if you can, but do not spoil what you have in reaching for more. If you have but one talent, use it for the Lord and be thankful for it. Do not depreciate it because others have several talents. Use it and be content. Happiness consists not in the things we have, but in our appreciation and use of them. So enjoy your one rose. Drink in its sweet perfume; gaze upon its beauteous colors. Enjoy it to the full.