John Lennon was only stating the obvious. Of course, we all are dreamers. But what a strange other-worldly chunk of our lives our dreams are! What are dreams all about? Dreams – as someone told me on Facebook, – are who I am when I’m too tired to be me.
And yet, that’s not strictly the case. . In a sense, I’m more me than ever before when I dream. People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter. Dreams are real. But they are made of opinions and pictures, half- memories, bad puns and dislocated hopes. And isn’t that the real me?
It’s interesting to think of the connection between my waking and my sleeping self. Because the stuff that fills my mind and heart now (I’m presently awake) becomes the fertiliser for my night-time ramblings. So watch your thinking, because that’s what will prompt those dreams. If I “fertilise” my thinking with worry and fear, or horror and anger, then those seeds will grow rank, choking my brain and distorting my vision.
When she was very little, my daughter used to say to me: “Sleep sweet.” I’ve no idea from whence her idea came, but it’s a very lovely memory for me. Don’t we all want to sleep sweet? Sleeping sweet is the very opposite of being filled small glittering pieces of guilt, stray fragments of fear and the rest. The Bible says “God gives his beloved ones sleep”. I like the verse, though as someone who has bouts of insomnia, I frequently write my stories between 2 and 5am, so I think that God gives his beloved ones creativity, wakefulness and joy in the middle of the night too. Oscar Wilde –another insomniac- once said “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” A subtle thought. You can see further in the middle of the night. The darker the night, the more wakeful the dreamer, and the stars shine out for a black billion miles. The dreamer finds his way by moonlight!
At night, all things become visible in a different kind of way. All things become possible to the waking dreamer. I love the Shel Silverstein lyric: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
That’s the take the Bible seems to have on dreams. I was interested to come across this version of Ephesians 3:20: “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or dream, according to His power that works in us.”
John Maxwell’s definition of a dream is “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”
That would certainly fit in with the life of Joseph, one of the Bible’s most celebrated dreamers. In Genesis 37:1-5 we are introduced to a seventeen year-old with a tricky family situation, but with huge ambitious dreams for which he lacked the nous to keep to himself. And the whole history of the nation was somehow connected with one boy’s dreams.
Maybe we are part of God’s dreams. Jeremiah pictured God saying “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
So if you’ve given up on dreams, maybe it’s time to dream once more. Maybe it’s time to sleep sweet and allow God to speak through all the tangle of your aspirations: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but where dreams come true, there is life and joy.” (Proverbs 13:12).
Bill Johnson said, a little while back: “We’ve been given the capacity to dream and, more importantly, to dream with God. Many believers discount their desires, automatically trying to get rid of everything they want in order to prove their surrender to God.” Do you dream of things being different? Is it wrong to dream dreams about you future, your business, your partner, your children? Is it foolish to dream out your desire for good things for your relationships, your family?
The Psalmist said, in a lovely joy-filled sleeping-sweet moment: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4). That simply means that to dream wonderful dreams, we must know the wonderful love of God the dreamgiver. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! For that is what we are!”(1 John 3:1). There’s a ringing rrealisation that goes on here, in that last phrase. That is who you are¬! Loved! Liked! Appreciated! If we don’t believe God has our best interests at heart, we won’t dream big dreams.
Even young Joseph encountered nothing but criticism. He was hated and taunted by his brothers, and soundly rebuked by his father for his dreams. And history records many such cases. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team but refused to give up. He simply committed to shooting 300 baskets a day, until the dream became a reality. Rudyard Kipling’s first writings were sent back:: “I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Winston Churchill was a failure at school and only became Prime Minister at 62 after a lifetime of setbacks. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000 step process
“I believe God wants us to dream, and to dream big, because He’s a big God who wants to do big things and He wants to do them through us.” (John Maxwell, Put Your Dream to the Test). Maxwell suggests ten tests. Here they are:
1. The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?
“Ordinary people can live extraordinary lives when they follow their dreams… Successful people – those who see and seize their dream – love what they do and do what they love.”
2. The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
“Begin by writing a detailed description of your dream. Make your dream measurable.”
3. The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors in my control to achieve my dream?
“You need to reach far beyond what you’re capable of, but at the same time base what you do on your strength and other factors within your control.”
4. The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
5. The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
“The real difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you do day to day.”
6. The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
7. The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
8. The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
9. The Fulfillment question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
10. The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?
Discover what your dream is, then do whatever it takes to move into their direction!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or dream according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Eleanor Roosevelt said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
So you may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.