I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams today.
Dan and Clarice were social workers in a third world country a few decades ago. They targeted the most disadvantaged sectors of the culture.
Dan would gather the men of the community together and ask them, “If you could have any job you wanted in this nation, what job would you do?”
Invariably they would answer, “Sir, what is it you want us to do?”
He would push back and insist that this was about their dreams and desires, not anything he needed done.
It did not compute. They did not have dreams or desires. There was no software for dreaming of a better future. No port to download the software.
They did not dream. They existed in the shadow of other people’s dreams and desires.
I have always considered that to be the enemy’s finest masterpiece here on earth – to rob an entire community of their ability to dream, and to substitute obedience as the highest good a person could aspire to.
Obedience usually means you are contributing to someone else’s dream, not your own.
The evil convict doing life without parole, who still dreams of winning an appeal or having his sentence commuted is, in some small way, more noble than that dreamless culture.
For the World Cup, 32 teams with a roster of 23 players apiece dreamed of the championship. 713 dreamers, and their managers and support staff will leave with a broken dream.
Oh, add to the 713, hundreds of millions of fans back home with broken dreams. How can Germany and Brazil be eliminated so soon?
I lit a fire in Pamela this week, giving legitimacy and legs to a dream she had secretly dreamed without having permission to admit she was dreaming it. So far, 2,500 people have celebrated her being a dreamer of things that have never been done before – things that God has been waiting for someone to dream – and to do.
I think that might be the basis for God’s statement that David was a man after God’s own heart. When David wanted to build a Temple, God celebrated first of all that He, God, had NEVER said anything about that. David had heard the heart of God and God loved that about him.
Lots of people hear God’s mind and can obey. Dreamers at times hear His heart and bring Him vast pleasure.
I watch people get scammed a lot. Nigeria anyone? The perfect boyfriend – who has a formidable rap sheet? The sure-fire investment deal?
Scammers look for people with a dream. And then break it.
I get tragic emails from people whose faith has been challenged to the core. They had a dream they were sure was from God, and ran hard after it with all that they had. The dream shattered. Their faith wobbled.
I get emails from dreamers who seem to be disconnected from reality. They are toddlers who can’t even ride a tricycle and they are talking about colonizing Mars. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Or maybe I should just shut up, because one out of 1,000,000 of them is actually aware at that age of the call of God on their lives – their dream is legit.
I watch the excruciating cost that dreams bring to dreamers.
Dwight Eisenhower KNEW he was made for war, as a Servant redemptive gift. His mother was a passionate pacifist with deep theological convictions. She became violently ideological about her pacifism when her boys would merely wrestle in the back yard.
Dwight’s dream came to be. He went to West Point and went on to fame as a man of integrity in the military. It cost him deeply in his relationship with his mother to fulfill his dream. There was no middle ground. No way for both to hold to their convictions and walk together with a higher perspective.
It is much harder when the dreamer is married to one who actively wars against the dream – and the dream was of a couple fighting together against all odds to execute a dream from the heart of God.
I thought of my turbulent teens and 20s and 30s when reading was my form of self-medication. In my dismal failure to execute on a very basic level, I escaped by reading about dreamers who could achieve. There was something comforting about reading the stories of larger-than-life people who achieved their dreams in spite of their situation and the community.
It was also pretty toxic. The people I resonated to the most, were portrayed as achieving their goal through intense personal passion and sacrifice – in spite of a hostile and obstructionist community. John Paul Jones. The Wright Brothers. George Washington Carver. John Patton. Malla Moe.
I imbibed a message that community was inherently obstructive and damaging to dreamers. It laid a foundation for immense difficulties in my life.
I reread those stories decades later and found that each one of them had a helpful community around them, in addition to the people who were killers of dreams.
I pondered the toxic end of John Paul Jones and the Wright Brothers compared to Carver who (barely) managed to end on a good note.
I looked today at my dreams. I have a graveyard full of broken dreams. Twice I have had to purchase another 40 acre field to expand that graveyard.
Some were utterly laughable. So very many were driven by my lack of legitimacy. I embraced dreams designed to purchase legitimacy from the culture but they had nothing to do with my design, so God declined to grace them.
Many more were not properly built out by me. Dreamers often glibly skip over two or three hundred necessary, functional steps between conception and fruitfulness.
Life rather heartlessly, ruthlessly unleashes reality on those dreams – and their dreamers.
I stared long and hard at a lot of design-based dreams. I could not understand why they had died a hurtful death.
Then I pondered the fact that so many of the things God is breathing on in my life were never a dream of mine.
Something is wrong with this picture.
On the one hand, there is immense wisdom in the prayer Hanna taught us. “Father, we beg you to never limit Yourself by our biggest prayers.”
On the other hand, it sure seems as though I must have missed God’s heart somewhere along the way. I apparently am not in David’s league of hearing His heart clearly in a place where He has been absolutely silent.
I am grateful that He dreams bigger and better dreams for me than the ones I have dreamed for myself and mercifully forces His dreams on me in the midst of my muddle.
But I remain addictively bound to some dreams that have died more than once already, but still refuse to die altogether.
The birthplace of torment and fulfillment.
Copyright July 2018 by Arthur Burk