One warm Sunday afternoon I was watching the fascinating story of Susan Boyle, an unknown, autistic woman from Scotland who appeared in 2009 as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, singing, “I Dreamed a Dream” from the Broadway play, Les Miserables. Her beautiful rendition shocked judges and brought a stunned audience to their feet, thus launching Susan into worldwide fame and fortune. All her life she dreamed of being a professional singer and this song about the love, dignity, and worth of the human spirit appeared to reflect her own life story.
Indeed, the entire play seemed to echo the thought that despite being slaves in an evil world, we can still say, or sing: “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.” As I pondered those lyrics, it dawned on me that my own health issues, the death of my wife, and my future ministry, might explain why I had been dreaming recently. I concluded that a look into the fascinating subject of dreams and visions would be helpful for me.
Webster defines a dream as “a sequence of sensations, images, thoughts, etc. passing through a sleeping person’s mind.” A vision is “an object seen in a dreamlike state.” Dreams occur only in sleep while visions normally take place when we’re awake. We all have dreams whether we remember them or not. And we all daydream as our imagination takes us into a Twilight Zone between being asleep and awake. The Bible is abundant with accounts of those who dreamed: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Solomon in the Old Testament; Mary, Joseph, the Magi, Peter, and Paul in the New Testament. Scripture reveals that “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2a NIV) .
The dictionary includes an additional definition for dreams and visions. A dream can be “a fond hope or aspiration;” and a vision “the act or power of imagination.” Obviously there is a figurative meaning to dreams and visions. Consider Caleb. He was a dreamer. For 45 years he dreamed of a portion of land that God had promised him and he cried, “Give me that mountain”(Joshua 14:12 KJV). Elisha dreamed of being a worthy successor to Elijah so he asked for a double portion of the prophet’s spirit and mantle (II Kings 2:9 KJV). Martin Luther dreamed of a church where the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ could be preached freely, and be understood by common people in their own language. The Protestant Reformation was the result. Martin Luther King, in his I Have a Dream speech said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” The Civil Rights Movement owes much of its existence to his dream.
I believe God has dreams He gives to people who will put them into action. He dreamed that His people needed to read His Word so He gave John Guttenberg the dream of the printing press. God had a dream that people needed light in the dark places of the world and He gave that dream to Thomas Edison who developed the electric light bulb. God envisioned a better mode of transportation than the horse and buggy, so He planted that dream of the automobile to Henry Ford. God knew that people needed to span distances so He gave the dream of an airplane to the Wright Brothers. The list is endless!
Beloved, God has big dreams for us! He says: “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for”(Jeremiah 29:11MSG). He has a dream that our churches will be houses of prayer, congregations of compassion, and ambassadors of reconciliation. He dreams that Christians will serve, love, care for one another, and decide things in unity and harmony together. God envisions that our youth will hear His call and follow Him in whatever paths of service He leads. And God ultimately pictures that day when all humanity, “everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10 -11 GW).
What is your dream? Has God called you to reach for His dreams? “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV). His dream through us is that we can do even “greater things”than Jesus did on earth (John. 14:12-KJV). So believe His Word! Climb that mountain! Cross that river! Follow God’s dream! Then rejoice that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV).
Adapted from Sermons in Song 2018 by Pastor Thompson