Dreams are interesting things. We spend years developing them, fantasizing over them them, hoping for them; then, when they arrive, we are forced to deal with the painful reality that the physical, tangible, dream is not nearly as appealing as the ‘idea‘ of the dream we once had. Slowly, what was once a dream, and now is a daily reality, fades into the realm of things that are not magical. Instead, they become mundane and uninteresting.
Maybe we were striving for a house, or a marriage, or an occupation; no matter, they can all loose their luster after having been obtained. Coming home to a new house is exciting at first. Opening the new garage door and pulling in, walking the hall to your new room, cooking in your new kitchen. Soon the new fades and all thats left is a driveway to shovel, a bed to make, and a kitchen to maintain. The same is true for the later two examples. The thrill of marriage slowly flows back into the proverbial sea. The emotions that once overwhelmed with every kiss on the cheek, or brush on the lower back while being led through a doorway, become dull and ordinary. The new responsibilities to conquer and perfect after receiving a promotion become burdens to bare. The dream, so it seams, is forced into the repetitive background scenery of life like the rolling hills and cliffs of a Road Runner cartoon chase. When this inevitable happens, there are untimely two ways to respond: accept that the dream has become a monotonous monochrome part of life and begin to focus on the next new magical concept you can concoct; or, you can place your lips over the airways of your withering dream and breath into it new life.
One of my dreams was to stand before a congregation as its fearless minister preaching and leading the way into a bigger and brighter future. Eight years, three moves, one bachelors degree, and one heart wrenching breakup later, hear I now stand. I wake up at 7 A.M, head to the office, burry my head in books and my mouth in conversations. Then, when 5 P.M. hits, I go home and try to stay entertained until it is an appropriate hour to go to bed without feeling like a complete shut in, single, lonely man. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Where is the thrill of proclaiming the glorious truth that is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Where is the excitement of having a breakthrough with an individual who is deemed by most as a lost cause? Where is the joy in the name of the father, the son, and holy spirit, as I dip a new believer into the watery grave of baptism only to bring them forth from it in the newness of life. Where is the dream?
There are a lot of ways to answer that question; but, I think when it comes down to it, the dream is still there, it is just much more than I had anticipated. You see, when we dream dreams, our imaginations emphasize the glorious and eliminate the grime. Take your dream car for example. All you see is yourself in the drivers seat, and maybe that special someone ridding shotgun, cruising down the highway with windows down and stereo blasting. You don’t see the payment at the end of every month. You don’t see the raise in your insurance premium. You don’t see the waxing, the cleaning, the oil changing, or the acclimating. All you see is the glorious; the grim does not exist. So, after you have pulled off of the lot and have tested and grown accustomed to all the new bells and whistles; the grim starts to build its burden. You start to wonder what it was about this car that was so great, and then, you begin to dream about next years model. Then year after year, the pattern repeats. We start living for the dreams instead of living in the dreams.
In order to avoid this, we need to understand a couple of things about life, and about God’s plan for us (which are actually one in the same). First, what I have already been alluding to is that we need to recognize, prepare, and conquer the grim of our dreams. Instead of fantasizing about a world without any type of hindrances, we need to be grounded in the truth that nothing great is ever forged, accomplished, or acquired without a little, or a lot, of grim. In order to appreciate our dreams we need to bleed, we need to sweat, we need to cry, and we need to toil. In order for our dreams to really reach their full potential we need to trudge through the highs and the lows within them. The best example of this that comes to mind is Paul. Of course, being that I relate to his stories more than any other biblical character, I have a biased.
When Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” it is not without first having experienced great joy and horrible suffering. Paul’s dream was to be a missionary to the Gentile people. He did this by traveling from city to city proclaiming the truth that Christ has come, lived, died a sacrificial death, and rose again conquering death. In some cities people accepted and rejoiced for the freedom of Christ. In other cities he literally had to quick get up and get out of dodge to avoid death. Later, he sat in a prison cell for two years waiting for a verdict on his trial. Oh, and the reason a verdict was not being reached was because Felix, the governor of Caesarea at that time, was hoping that Paul would eventually offer him a bribe. Talk about a dream killer. But did this stop Paul? Absolutely not, he took every opportunity. Even as he sat in prison he ministered to the Gentiles by writing the letters that make up a good portion of our New Testament. Can you imagine if after leaving Damascus, traveling through Jerusalem, and beginning his first Journey at Antioch, Paul would have said, “Well I have accomplished this dream and now I’m bored with it.” The world would be dramatically different. Paul was Gods instrument, and as Gods instrument, altered the very course of history. He did more for the kingdom in six years then most do with in an entire lifetime. He refused to live for dreams, but instead, lived within the dream.
The second thing we need to understand is that more often then not, dreams take time to develop and blossom into their full potential and beauty. I have been the minister of a church over a year. Now, after a year, the temptation for me is to look back and say, “mission accomplished, whats next?” I have grow accustomed to this dream of mine and am craving more. I am unhappy with the realities that are the grim of this dream and want something easier that produces more success, personal fulfillment, and kingdom fruit. This is not reality. If I were to move on right now all I would experience is the exact same type of repetitive roller coaster ride effect that comes with buying a new car every year. Exciting first, boring later, again and again. No, I need to stop living for the dream, and start living in the dream. It is only when I do this that I might have the chance to see the full beauty and lasting effect of this glorious dream.
Take Moses for example: Had he of quit mid dream, there would have been hundreds of thousands of people stranded in the dessert left to die. So, he pressed forward for 40 years despite the fact that he knew he would not even get to experience the fruit of his dream. He would not get to experience the promise land.
In a world where everything is becoming more and more instant we need to recognize that a good dream takes time. We need to accept that the trials and hardships along the way are all apart of refining and perfecting the full beauty and purpose of our dreams. We need to stop living for dreams and start living in them.
If we don’t, we will never appreciate the greatness of life, we will never feel any type of lasting satisfaction, and we will never accomplish anything great. We will only have just another house, just another marriage, or just another job. I, for one, refuse this. I have a dream for the greatest home imaginable, for the most wonderful marriage possible, and for the most meaningful job available. They will all take time, they will all take work, they will all have grim, and they will all be entirely worth it in the end.