When Dreams Fall Short
As a child, I was one of the most patriotic little girls you might ever have met. I loved my country to an unhealthy level—I craved the fervor of election season, cried out the five choruses of the national anthem, and dedicated my life to the American virtues of life, liberty, and happiness.
But like many such zealous individuals, I entered into the disillusioning phase of adolescence and lost my wide-eyed wonder of the American dream. Such an occurrence is quite normal, isn’t it? The normal aging process almost always guarantees a degree of cynicism in regards to faith, beliefs, and dreams. The questioning and the doubting are unavoidable. These days, I still believe in the comparative advantages and blessings of American life; but I find it difficult to bite my tongue when I hear people talk about the “greatest country on earth.” What arrogance. What ignorance. Don’t they know that Jesus doesn’t play favorites?
Last month, I stood at the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. It was a moving experience, a sobering reminder of the death of dreams. Yes, the man was not perfect, but he had some ambitious dreams, didn’t he? And yet, just like that, they were doused. All dreams fade, all dreams die. The idealism of small-town America has faded. The spirit of entrepreneurialism is dead. The wonder of freedom is lost. The ultimate dream-caster, Martin Luther King, Junior, is himself trapped within the confines of his never-ending “I have a dream” speech. He died, and then his dreams did. This fallen, broken world—it wears you out.
I dream of one day seeing Kashmir (Northern India) free from political and spiritual oppression. My mother dreams of building a whimsical town in the prairie of Colorado. My brother dreams of bridging the gap between faith and politics. If you knew the details of each of these dreams, you would know how unachievable they seem. Let’s face it, more often than not, we see our dreams and the dreams of those around us fall short.
And yet we still dream. As Christians, why do we have dreams? Perhaps our unexplained passion for issues or goals is an indicator of our “calling”. But if these dreams are temporal in nature, then why are we “called” to fight for it? In the end, Christ will return, Christ will redeem, and Christ will overcome all things. So why dream?
I would like to suggest that dreams are a smaller taste of faith; a shadow of the belief in something that we cannot see; a wild notion that the impossible might someday be possible. To explain, when I read the word of God, I feel truth hidden behind the metaphors and the symbolism. I feel and consequently know the truth of a God who reigns eternal, who created mankind, who has relationship with his people, who longs to restore a broken world. Most times faith is a feeling: it’s completely unexplainable, potentially irrational, consistently frustrating, but perpetually inspiring. Just like our dreams are.
Perhaps the same God who called us to have faith and believe in what we cannot see also gave us unique dreams as a sort of lab experiment to test our stamina. I don’t know why, for what purpose, or to what end. Do you? Please tell me, if you know.
All I can say is, do not discount your dreams. Pay attention to the things that excite your interest, the things that make your heart beat just a little bit faster. And then, I challenge you: spend the rest of your life trying to figure out why. You may never know why you dream what you do. But your dreams are your own, and, I would suggest, a gift from God. Above all, bear in mind that “the grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). So go out there, dream wildly big, but stand firmly on the word of God.