When you are a little kid, you are always asked what you’re going to be when you grow up. When you’re in high school, you take a variety of personality tests that sometimes point you towards careers that may be suited for your interests and individual propensities. In college, you make a decision to pursue a major that you hope will lead to an eventual career in that field.
In terms of vocation, your entire childhood is practically based around hoping for something that you are going to be able to do. It is dreaming about a career that you really want to pursue, that you feel passionate about. You may not have it yet, but the encouragement is there to think about what could be. So many little kids dream about being professional athletes, and while we know that it is probably an unrealistic dream, we don’t automatically tell them not to dream. We tell them that if they work really hard, that dream might come true.
We may know that the fulfillment of that dream is unlikely. Playing in the NFL is an opportunity that very few people actually have, but it is not impossible, so we encourage our young people to dream. Even at the college level, while our dreams might be a bit more tempered by that point, we still know what we want to do, even if it is not incredibly likely. For all of your art history majors that want to work at the Louvre or the physics majors that want to work at NASA, their dreams very well might come true. Nobody is saying that they won’t. However, the majority of art history or physics majors will need to find their careers on some other trajectory simply because neither organization can employ everyone.
Something interesting seems to happen when we get out of college and start to work. So many people start to lose their dreams, or if they don’t leave their dreams entirely, they write them off as unrealistic or unachievable. They stop taking steps to pursue them for a variety of reasons.
I know some people who gave up their dreams because they had a family, so their priorities started to shift. That is a great reason, and I don’t question anyone about making that choice. Some people just give up entirely though for seemingly no reason other than the fact that they have gotten older, and that is what I do not understand.
Naturally, we have a limited amount of time on this earth, so when our future on this planet is shorter, there is less that we are going to be able to achieve. I can do more in 50 years than I can in 40 years presumably. However, that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a lot that I can do in 40 years. There is a lot that I can do in 10 years or even one year.
It strikes me as really odd then that we are so quick to give up our dreams. After all, maybe I love to play basketball and it finally dawns on me that I am never going to play in the NBA. However, what does that really mean in the grand scheme of things? Does it mean that I can’t dream anymore? Absolutely not. That particular dream might be dead, but it doesn’t mean that I have to surrender to a life of meaningless existence. It may mean that I have to change my plans a little bit, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t ever hope for anything ever again.
That’s what I seem to notice about people. They were forced to give up on a particular dream, whatever that may be, and they all of a sudden decide that they can dream anymore in general. Because one thing did not work out, nothing is going to work out every again.
I don’t understand how people function that way. I am one of those people who always has another plan. Some things work out while others do not. However, that doesn’t mean that I never try consider some other type of dream ever again. I just keep thinking. The dreams never stop; I just keep jumping right in to figure it out.
I think there is a sense of hope that is required in order to dream, and I think that is the part that so many people are missing. If you don’t have hope, then you can’t dream. Without hope, a dream is simply a fantasy, an unrealistic one at that. Therefore, why bother dreaming? Why bother talking about what might be because it isn’t going to happen anyway?
You see, that’s why I think that we have these dreams when we are young and gradually lose them as we get older. Young people generally still have hope. They have not become so incredibly jaded in their short time on earth, so they are still willing to think about what may be. They are willing to think that the future may be better than the present. Some may call that unrealistic, and that’s fine. However, they are willing to at least be open to the possibility that the future may be better. I think that is a huge step in the right direction that all of us can learn from.
I’m not suggesting that we go through life assuming that everything will be perfect and will work out the way we want. Our experience has shown us the folly of that. We know that life is not perfect. I am saying that is better to go through life with a type of hope. Am I advocating for some type of wish fulfillment? Not at all. Rather, I would suggest a more balanced approach. We cannot assume that everything is going to be perfect. We live in a fallen world after all, and Christians need to recognize that reality. However, we also cannot assume that everything is always going to be terrible or everything is going to be full of disappointments. Again, Christians believe that God created this world perfectly, and while it is marred by sin, it still retains elements of its original goodness. There is still beauty in the world. There is still hope in the world. It is not perfect, and we feel the problems associated with sin all the time. We see it around us, in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, we also know that there is no question that God is still with us. He has not abandoned this planet. As long as God is here, and He always will be, there is always hope.
Here’s my suggestion then as we think about hope and dreaming. Dreaming is good because dreaming aligns with the way the world is. Hope is still here, and that hope transcends any jadedness we might have or feel. Why not think about what could be or should be? Why not talk about what we hope happens in the future? Why not think about making the world a better place? It certainly is not too late. God is still here.
I personally think that when we dream, we are doing what God calls us to do. We are hoping. I think it is part of God’s design for us to be entirely honest for you. Why do you think we have this tension between God’s kingdom here on earth and God’s future kingdom that we see presented at the end of Revelation? It is good for us to want that which is good. It is a type of dream. We are looking forward to something that we are anticipating with great joy. We hope that it will come true because we know it will be a great thing if it does. And the great part about God's hope is that we know it is going to come true. Therefore, we have something better than just a hope; we have a sure hope.
It is far too easy for us to get wrapped up in what is true here and now, but it doesn’t have to be that way, and if you are a dreamer, I say that you should keep dreaming. Think about something that could be or should be and take definite steps to try to make that happen. Maybe your dream will never come true the side of paradise. That’s possible. However, don’t let that turn you off from the process of dreaming altogether. In the words of Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” I believe it is biblical to dream and to hope, and I think that the world could use more of it. Think about the implications of a world full of Christians that were not afraid to dream. They could do so much, and they would have the disposition to give it a try.
They could dream about what may be or could be, and the funny thing about things that may be or can be is that sometimes they turn into things that are.
How much good could be done with a group of people who had a vision to dream about something highly beneficial, and they actually started to take that dream and give it a try? Think about it. In fact, dream about it.