“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” –T.E. Lawrence
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” –Oscar Wilde
I’m a dreamer, plain and simple. In my mind, the future is bright and beautiful, full of endless possibilities. I love thinking about all the things I want to experience, the things I want to learn, and the memories I want to make (and who I want to make them with). So far there are 81 items on my list of things to do before I die; I have accomplished 9 of them. Some of the things I want to do are as small and entertaining as attending a Pirate Live Action Role Playing, to skills I want to have such as being able to fly a small airplane, to big dreams like caring for street children or working with victims of human trafficking. To me, every moment in life counts and every breath is precious.
If you are a dreamer, however, it is quite possible that the world will try to discourage you from being that way. There’s this idea of reality that society tries to instill in us; it tries to teach us that to think big or to imagine great change is unrealistic. Dreamers are seen as cartoon characters living in the clouds and chasing after unicorns. Well-intentioned people in my life who truly love me have spoken into my dreams, telling me not to get my hopes up. I know they didn’t want to see me crushed in the end when those things did not come to pass. However, to say that dreamers live outside reality is a generalization that needs some redirecting.
The truth of the matter is, a dream remains a dream until hard work is put into making it become a reality. One thing many people don’t know how to do is work hard. We want to change the world, but as long as it fits between 9 and 6, Monday through Friday and meets various other guidelines. However, I have found that dreams are born in the midnight hours, often take years to grow enough to show for anything, and nearly always require great risk and investment. They take shape in the dusty dirty back roads, and much more happens behind closed doors and in long dark hallways than the great success that the masses see. Also often, just like in the case of Martin Luther King, Jr., we may not live to see our dreams come to pass. However, that does not make the dream any less important.
I want my children to be dreamers. I want them to learn how to imagine the world as God created it to be; to picture in their minds what it would look like if heaven were to touch earth. You know why? Because I have learned that God is a dreamer. How else could He or would He have picked someone like me for the great things He has called me to? When He found me, I was wrapped in depression, oppression, addiction, suicidal tendencies, self-hatred, sickness, and fear. He saw something in me that I could never have imagined, and began the pursuit. Like the proficient artist that He is, He took to work on this mess and is creating a masterpiece. I stand amazed every single day at all the freedom and healing that He has brought into my life. I can boast about that, because it has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him. Because of all the restoration that God has brought to me, I have an intense and burning passion to bring that same restoration to many others.
I have also learned that as I take on the dreams of God, He takes on mine. A small example of this involves a story from a couple years ago. I had seen pictures of Machu Picchu for years, and when it became one of the seven wonders of the world, I longed to go there even more. So I put it on my list. As the years went by and I continued in my calling to missions, I accepted a position in Ecuador as a missionary. We were sent to Peru for five months of language and ministry training. It wasn’t until I had been in Peru for a time that I realized Machu Picchu was in Peru as well. God provided the money I needed to visit, and the trip meant more to me than simply being a tourist outing. It was God saying to me, “Delight yourself in Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart.” He cares about even the smallest dreams we have. When I remember experiences like this, it is much easier for me to trust God for future dreams and promises that He has given me.
I have learned that it is not the size of the dream that determines whether or not it can happen. Rather, it is in whose hands the dream is placed that matters. It is in understanding what it means to be in partnership with God when dreams become reality in our lives; not because we are that good, but because He is. Did you know that God is good? Sometimes our hearts can grow resentful in waiting for a dream to pass, and we start to think that God just wants to use us until we run dry and have nothing left. However, I want to make a bold statement: that those who feel that way are truly not experiencing a relationship with God as He intended. It is true that there are times and seasons in life when we are tired and spent; when we contemplate throwing in the towel. However, if we have lost the Great Adventure in the midst of the daily tasks and responsibilities, it is time to take a step back and remember. We must remember that God is a dreamer, and that He has incredible dreams not only for each of us, but also for the world. We must remember that we have an important role to play in those dreams becoming reality. It has all the elements of a good thriller: risk, courage, danger, joy, failure, love and a happily ever after. Sometimes we need to be reminded; I needed to be reminded today that life is more than the emotions I feel in the moment and the responsibilities I am struggling to handle right now. Soon this moment and this chapter will only be a memory. I can’t drop it in the middle of the story. I must live it out, and live it to the full.
Has the world discouraged you from being a dreamer? In the words of the great Mufasa in the Lion King: Remember who you are. You are a son or daughter of the King of Kings. God has placed certain dreams inside of you for a reason. Keep your eyes on Him, and you will soon find yourself in the story of a lifetime.