(Pexels/Mauricio Mascaro)

A detail in a dream can confuse the dream and cause a wrong interpretation—or it can be the key that opens up the dream's true impact.

When used correctly, details can really bring the interpretation home for the dreamer. But if they receive too much emphasis, they can end up bogging down the interpretive process and even skewing the interpretation.

Put Away the Magnifying Glass

Trying to figure out every detail of a dream too early in the interpretive process is like looking at an image on your smart phone or computer and zooming in. If you zoom in too far, the image just gets blurry, and you lose the big picture. It's great that you can tell exactly which shade of green that leaf is—but is it in a forest or on a tree standing alone?

When someone puts too much attention on the details of a dream, it often makes the dream less clear.

How Details Work

A detail derives its meaning from the focus or sub-focus it relates to. If you see a blue car in a dream, the car could be the sub-focus, and that it is blue could be a detail.

Blue often represents communion or revelation, while a car usually represents a ministry or a job (it is how you get from where you are to where you are going). So a blue car could mean the ministry or job has revelation. That detail may not have anything to do with the house where the car is parked or even with the dreamer—it's pretty easy to start thinking a detail applies to something it actually doesn't.

If you find yourself getting confused by a dream, perhaps you are putting too much attention on the details.

What You Should Do

If you are confused, take a step back, zoom out and look at the big picture. Who is the focus? What is the storyline? What are the sub-focuses? Figure out what those mean first, and then you can add the details back into the interpretation. When you use details this way, they enhance the dream's meaning instead of confusing it.

John E. Thomas is the president of Streams Ministries and the co-author of The Art of Praying the Scriptures: A Fresh Look at Lectio Divina with John Paul Jackson. Teaching on prophetic ministry, dream interpretation and the Kingdom of God, he travels internationally and works to help restore the awe of God to a world that has lost its wonder. John and his wife, Dawna, live outside of Dallas, Texas.

To learn more about dreams and dream interpretation, check out Dream Foundations as well as other resources from John E. Thomas and John Paul Jackson at streamsministries.com.

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