catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 15 :: 2003.07.18 — 2003.07.31


Dreaming as a gift

Someone close to me tells me repeatedly how she stopped dreaming. As the fulfillment of her dreams (owning a horse, for example) became more distant possibilities, she just let them go. She just stopped.

Her confession always threatens to fill me with sorrow, but for the most part, I don?t believe her.

The ability to speculate about the future is a unique gift. Only in extreme circumstances when we?re trying to meet pressing immediate needs of food or shelter or health are we not using this gift. Our imaginations cannot help but periodically wander in to that territory of what life might

be like if?

Our dreams can be destructive or constructive. We can waste our time yearning after material possessions or social status or we can develop a vision of how we might be equipped to make the world a better place. Constructive dreams are usually characterized by selflessness and a desire to give out of what has been given. One of the most famous ?dreamers,? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was willing to sacrifice his life in the noble pursuit of racial equality.

I would argue that our best dreams emerge out of a desire to fully realize our purpose in this lifetime. The fact is that we were all made for a purpose. Some would try to package the discovery of purpose in neat categories, like Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life. According to Warren, if we are all fulfilling our roles in the areas of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, service and evangelism, we should be leading fulfilled lives.

But as another close friend of mine says, ?Life is messy and we just have to do the best we can.? Sometimes, the messiness of life can cause our biggest dreams to go unfulfilled for a lifetime and if we focus on these broken remnants, we will never perceive the whole. To realize our fulfilled purpose, we need to be discerning about which dreams we indulge.

As Rob and I struggle to fulfill the dream of opening a fair trade store, it?s easy for us to focus on the broken pieces, on what we have not done instead of what we are doing. Dreams of carefree travel cause us to resent our role as community organizers. Dreams of financial stability threaten to undermine our role as organizational leaders. Dreams of a normal, comfortable life temporarily overwhelm our desire to be radically obedient. Ask us on a bad day if we?d prefer the American Dream, we might reply, ?At least the American Dream is remotely possible compared to the tasks we have ahead of us.? But that is not the dream for which we were created. We simply cannot succumb to hopelessness and despair.

It?s easy to be optimistic in theory, but in the middle of daily life, there are precious few things that keep us going these days, namely prayer, encouraging words, and the Word. And often all three occur at once, when the only words I can pray are ?Ask and you shall receive?Lord, give me a sign,? and suddenly we receive a note, or someone mentions how excited they are about the work we?re doing.

To those who say they?ve stopped dreaming, I would encourage you to dedicate time specifically to indulging in messy, risky dreams. Be still and then begin putting together the puzzle pieces of your gifts, passions and experiences in ways that seem to make no sense—and then challenge your perceptions of ?sense.? If you are discontent, explore. If you are restless, develop a vision. I cannot ignore the hard parts of dreaming, but neither can I ignore the rewards of cultivating dreams into reality, instinctively creating something from nothing.

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