(PC: Rebecca Barray)
Dreams are often wishes unfulfilled. Our longings take concrete shape as our minds explore endless ways to create what our visions for justice, push for discovery and desires for beauty beg for. Made in the reflection of the infinite, God wires us with aptitudes and investigative minds able to innovate, design, build, create, examine, explore and solve; and it would seem humanity is a tireless and thrilling resource for more of whatever our restless mind can imagine. Because dreams are not easily navigated, the formidable limitations that hold us back, whether our own inabilities or weaknesses, or the less controllable ones like being born in the wrong century or the wrong neighborhood, can kill our dreams. As poor, destitute Fantine would sing, “But the tigers come at night, With their voices soft as thunder, As they tear your hope apart, As they turn your dream to shame.” Dreams often remind us of what we are not.
Dreams were never meant to define us. All people everywhere are defined by their relationship to God. Because we were intended for oneness with God, God is to be central in all things; and the inspiration of our dreams must be motivated by the realization that our longings will only find a satisfying reality when they are in correct alignment to Him . Hundreds of years ago, the apostle Paul spoke in the meeting of the Aeropagus in Athens saying, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” The reality of whatever we are hoping for is made a real hope in the resurrection of Christ, the glorious central figure in all of reality.
Another interesting aspect about dreams and hopes are how they shift and morph along the sands of time. What you dreamed about as a kid probably is not your current big dream. Similarly, as our culture has shifted its focus on what matters most, we discover it is reflected in our own aspirations. Dr. Tim Keller states, “In ancient cultures what mattered most was honor and making your community proud by fulfilling your duty. The world was conceived as a testing ground to see whether you would be faithful to truth, beauty, and causes higher than your own emotions and interests. Today, however, our cultures are highly individualistic. There is no duty higher than plumbing the depths of your own desires to find out who you want to be. In modern narratives, the protagonist is usually a person who bravely casts off convention, breaks the rules, defies tradition and authority to discover him or her self and carve out a new place in the world. In ancient tales the hero was the person who did just the opposite, who put aside inner dreams, aspirations, doubts, and feelings in order to bravely and loyally fulfill their vows and obligations.” So it is that our lofty goals often mirror our world’s changing reflections. (PC: Rhiannon Logsdon)
The coming of Jesus brings hopes to our dreams. What do you dream about? What keeps you up at night pondering and planning? Each part of our life is to be laid in submission to the King’s command, and yet the eagerness of the King is for his people’s eternal joy. Do we dare to place our susceptible aspirations and most secret, heartfelt longings into the hands of the one who breathed life into us, offers rescue from our sinful destitution, and assures that in Himself is life full of love and acceptance? Is it hard? Are we afraid of disappointment? The beloved preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “If you reject Him, He answers you with tears. If you wound Him, He bleeds out cleansing, if you kill Him, he dies to redeem. If you bury Him, He rises again to bring us resurrection. Jesus is love manifest.” In an individualized society, do we dare to turn over our dreams?
Jesus offers an alternate way of living human. Jesus asks us to have the same mindset that compelled him to completely empty Himself and become a human. Though completely equal with God, Jesus did not grasp after it. Though a king, he became a servant of all. Jesus deliberately gave up the biggest, living dream ever, lost it all, in order to gain something greater–the redemption of his people. Now Jesus tells his followers to do the same, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” The Word became flesh and lived right here among us, and we saw his grace and glory. This glory is life overflowing, and it spills over onto us to give us what we need; grace and truth is spilled out, ever-present, ever-holding on to us, overflowing like a river in us, giving us grace, over and over, grace upon grace.
Jesus also provides us with a new filter for the longings of our heart. Jesus leaves us with His Spirit, the power of the crucified and resurrected Christ. The Lord tells us that we may ask anything in His name, and He assures us that He will do it with every desire and every dream processed through that precious name for the glory of God. We ask for His fame, not ours. Our desires and dreams are put through that filter–His fame, His worth, His wisdom, His honor, His glory. And we find that our dreams were never really big enough, our lens were too small to capture the story of glory that is now ours through Christ.