Don't throw your dreams away
Sometime when you've nothing better to do, make a list of things you threw away and later wished you hadn't. Maybe we've all done that. Listen, whatever else you throw away, when your heart is filled with a lovely, honourable dream, hold on to it; it's a gift of God.
The prophet Joel said that when the Spirit came (in Jesus Christ) young men and women would dream dreams and old men and women would see visions. I don't deny a miraculous element in the prophecy (see Acts 2:16-36) but God always did the miraculous in support of the "normal". In the light of Jesus' death, resurrection and glorification millions of young people have become dreamers and a host of very old people who'd "seen it all" lived in the vision of the even better that was coming. In the light of Jesus such people can'tsettle for less. If there had been no Jesus, if there was no living Jesus well, then, we'd have to grin and bear it as the years ground us to dust—end of story. But there was a Jesus and there is a living and returning Jesus; the future is racing at us full of glory so the present is not to be gloomingly endured—it is to be lived in as if it were the future.
In the musical adaptation of Don Quixote de La Mancha, Cervantes has been thrown into prison. When his fellow prisoners learn he is a poet of the theater, they begin to give him a bad time. One critic angrily rebukes his as a dreamer. Poets, he snarls, are mad men who spin nonsense out of nothing and take men’s eyes off reality. This, he said, was a great wrong; it was a flight from the facts, and people should be made to face life as it really is, rather than dream.
Cervantes looks around at the filth and squalor of the prison and thinks of the injustice that landed them all in it. Must people settle for life as it is? Is dreaming for something better really madness? Cervantes tells his chief critic that he has traveled the world, been a slave, fought in war and held his friends as they were dying. Then he says,
"These were men who saw life as it is but they died despairing. No glory, no brave last words, only their eyes filled with confusion, questioning why! I do not think they were asking why they were dying, but why they had ever lived. Life itself seems a lunatic. Who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash, too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it could be, as it should be."
There is an unholy discontent that is thankless. And because it lacks a warm gratitude it’s altogether unlike "holy" discontent—that blessed hunger that leaves us dissatisfied with things as they are. Our dreams should always exceed our grasp in what is holy. When we’re healthy there will be that pleasure in the good that already is, in the progress we’ve already known; but there will always be that delicious vision of what is purer, what is better and more holy.
Hebrews 11:16 says if Abraham had wanted to go back to Mesopotamia he could have done it; but he didn’t want to; he had his eyes on another country, one that God was going to give to him. And because that's how he felt, because he wouldn’t settle for less, Hebrews 11:16 tells us that God was not ashamed of him, to be called his God.
And when the days roll by and we seem to be no better, no holier; when the seemingly unchangeable realities of life appear to crush to silence any reasonable hope of a lovelier future, when it seems only to be madness to deny the harsh and brute facts of our lives—then we need to remember his promise that in Jesus Christ he will supply our every need. Then we will recognize the surrender of our dreams for the madness that it really is. And we will pick our reluctantly discarded dreams out of the rubbish bin, dust them off and with a smile confess they are ours.
And God will see and will not be ashamed of us and to be called our God.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.