Sunday, March 20, 2011

Being Like Those Who Dream

Psalm 126.1-2 says, "When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion
                                 We were like those who dream.
                                 Then our mouth was filled with laughter
                                 And our tongue with joyful shouting;
                                 Then they said among the nations,
                                 'The LORD has done great things for them.'

When the Israelites had returned from captivity, it was like a dream come true. Well, not like a dream come true. It was a dream come true. For 70 years while in Babylon they had dreamed of returning to the Promised Land. But that wasn't just their dream. It was God's dream as well, for he had promised it to them 70 years earlier through the prophet Jeremiah in another passage that is often quoted today when talking about God's dreams for our lives (Jer 29.10-11 -- "...For I know the plans that I have for you...."). They were dreaming God's dream, God's plans for them. And in doing so, their mouths were filled with laughter and shouts of joy.

God didn't stop dreaming when Israel returned to the Promised Land. Nor did he stop when Jesus came into the world, nor when he died and rose again on the third day, nor when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2. He didn't stop dreaming when the Bible was completed. These were all part of God's dream. But God still has a vision for this world. He has dreams and plans for it and for us and for his kingdom. The question is, are we dreaming God's dream with him? Do you have a vision for your life, for how God will use you to fulfill his dream? Does your church have a vision for its future? Is it dreaming God's dream for the kingdom of God and for who he wants them to be? Can you describe the dream in a few words?

To live our life with vision means to never be satisfied with the status quo. It is to have a holy agitation that refuses to live with mediocrity. It is to refuse to simply exist, to just go with the flow, to just go through the motions, to just try to fill up 24 hours in a day every day. To live with vision is to see God's plan not only for your life, but for his kingdom and for this world, and to give yourself wholly to it. It is to become part of something much greater than yourself.

Prov 29.18 is often quoted in regard to vision, usually from the King James Version which says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." That's one possible translation. The NASU says "Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained." And actually the word "vision" here probably means "revelation," as from God through the prophets. So perhaps the verse is taken out of context when used to refer to vision in the sense I am talking about in this article. Nonetheless, it is true that to live without vision is to perish. For to live without vision means to stagnate, to go nowhere, remain at a standstill. And to do that is to die.

Athletes commonly use a technique called "visioning" in which they visualize themselves successfully going through each step or motion of their sporting event, whether it is skiing a downhill race course or pole vaulting higher than they ever have before. Studies have proven that visioning greatly improves an athlete's performance. Likewise, to envision God using us to achieve his dream and imagining ourselves reaching it is imperative to success. The alternative is not only to fail, it is to not even try.

Heuser and Shawchuck, in their book Leading the Congregation: Caring for Yourself While Serving the People, state, "A vision is the 'impossible dream' that God is dreaming in the hearts of those who are called to serve others."  Have you dreamed an impossible dream for your life in terms of serving God and serving others? If so, maybe it is God dreaming in you. And if so, then it is not impossible at all.

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