by Rev. Christopher Lewis,
Nothing is Impossible Ministries
I had a funny dream last night in which the pastor of Redeemer’s Church in Reedley and I were making a movie together. It featured some guy with a backpack that had mushrooms and a hamburger in it. Were this dream to be analyzed by a psychologist, I have no idea what he would learn about me. However, I think I will avoid said psychologist just to be on the safe side!
Though I will not choose to dwell on some of the crazy dreams I have at night, I have been doing some thinking lately about the subject of dreams on a deeper level. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, the word “dream” has various meanings. Among them, we find:
1) a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep (such a dream may, or may not, have inherent meaning)
2) an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: as
a: a visionary creation of the imagination:DAYDREAM
b: a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality:REVERIE
c: an object seen in a dreamlike state:VISION
3) a strongly desired goal or purpose
Now I have definitely experienced all these different kinds of dreams. The third kind, however, is the type of dream that drives much of my existence. It’s that strongly desired goal and purpose that gives my life direction.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul made clear that he was also driven by a goal. He said, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) NIV
In order to give life purpose, people need some kind of goal to aim for. Many people who have no idea of where they are going or why they are getting up in the morning tend to be miserable and depressed. They are like the soccer team that doesn’t know there’s a goal and so just hits the ball around. They expend a lot of energy, but they never win because they don’t even know the rules of the game!
However, not just any goal will do. Though having a dream to aim for in life can give anyone the purpose and drive to keep moving forward with life and not give up, some goals eventually lead to more pain than promise. The following are some examples of the kinds of goals that often lead to despair rather than a sense of accomplishment:
A) Dreams of fame & fortune
We live in a culture that tends to worship fame and fortune. The Royalty of America is made up of Hollywood stars and business tycoons. However, most people who reach for the goal of fame or fortune never achieve their goal. As a result, many end up disillusioned and depressed. Others achieve that goal but then discover that it doesn’t satisfy. Once they achieve their goal, they live in constant fear of losing what they have achieved, and most often, they eventually do. It is hard to imagine any despair greater than that of the has-been who realizes that all of his dreams are past. Many people have committed suicide through the years because of their obsession with the dream of fame and fortune.
B) Dreams of the perfect family
This is also a dream that tends to lead to disillusionment. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and even families that are happy find that they encounter difficulties along the way. Somewhere along the way, they usually discover that there is no such thing as a perfect family.
C) Dreams of success
Others feel that if they can just get a promotion at work or reach the top of the ladder of success in their particular career they will have achieved their goal. They live lives that are driven by their dreams, and for a while we tend to admire their determination. However, they too tend to discover eventually that their goals are empty. Some don’t get the promotion and end life in defeat; others reach the top only to discover that they are alone.
Years ago, a very famous man was interviewed by Merv Griffin. The talk show host asked him about his life. He pointed out that this famous man was very rich. He had fancy homes, beautiful cars and lots of money, and he was always surrounded by the most beautiful women in the world. “What’s left?” he asked him.
The famous man grew silent for a while. Then finally, when he spoke, he said, “The one thing I want is for someone to love me for who I am.” He had all the world’s goods; he had achieved all his dreams; but he was empty.
Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with aiming at success in your career, and there is nothing wrong with aiming at success in family and relationships. If you do achieve success in these areas, it may indeed provide you with a certain measure of contentment in your achievements. However, none of these goals leads to ultimate contentment. In fact, all these things on their own are lacking in that special something that we all need to make us complete.
I am convinced that only God can fill that void in our hearts. He alone is the goal that gives our life absolute purpose because He is the actual purpose for which we were made. God said to the Israelites when they were in exile: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These words reflect the heart of the biblical message from beginning to end. God made us in His image, and He wants a relationship with us. He has a plan for our lives, and if we will let God give us His vision for our lives, we can count on it that the dream will be realized.
Do you have a God-shaped dream? Did you know that He has a plan for your life? I would encourage you to start by learning to know Him. Despite the rumors that God is all about putting us on a guilt-trip and encumbering our lives with heavy rules and regulations that we can never measure up to, the God of the Bible is actually about forgiveness and giving our lives an eternal purpose that all of us can achieve if we will just trust in Him.
Dreams of hamburgers and mushrooms won’t get you far, but if you will let God give you His dream for your life, you will find that He wants to give you a goal and a purpose worth living for.