A Great Dream
Recently, I read about a man named George Parkinson who dreamed for 40 years about earning a doctor of philosophy degree from the university. The First World War, however, took him as a chaplain. After that he experienced ill health, the Depression, and other professional responsibilities. All of that interfered, and it became necessary to postpone his plans. But he never gave up the idea.
At last, at the age of 65, he stood on the platform of the University of Chicago on Commencement Day. At that time, the president of the institution conferred on him the coveted degree and announced that he was the oldest man in the history of the school ever to have been so honored. Such is the power of a great dream.
As he served in captivity, the Old Testament character Nehemiah dreamed dreams and had visions of what the city of his foreparents might become. To him, Jerusalem was a Holy City and could be a witness to the purpose of God in the midst of human life. Consequently, Nehemiah’s consuming vision was that these walls of the city must be rebuilt. And in spite of the countless difficulties and relentless enemies, he let nothing deter him.
Writing in his book, “Wake Up Your Dreams,” Walt Kallestad observed, “Dreams can help us see the invisible, believe the incredible, and achieve the impossible.” Pastor Kallestad is talking about the power of a great dream.
Today, I want to point out four ways that having a great dream can benefit us.
First, a great dream enables us to believe in ourselves! Someone once asked, “What is the greatest thing in life?” The answer came back: “To know one's purpose.” I would add, to have a great dream. Countless people who have learned how to keep going report that at least one of the ingredients for endurance is the understanding of the meaning of one’s life. These people believe that every life has a purpose. They know that none of us can do everything but that all of us can do something. They believe in themselves.
Second, a great dream enables us to handle criticism! There seems to be an unwritten commandment in every area of life which says, “Thou shalt not be different.” The moment anyone begins to be different, “move beyond the beaten path,” not everyone is going to be his/her cheerleader.
The point is that mediocrity resents excellence. Don’t imagine that you can stand taller or cleaner than the rest without being ridiculed or criticized.
But Nehemiah had the answer to this dilemma. In the midst of being severely criticized and taunted by his critics, he stated, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Third, a great dream enables us to prioritize! A person with a great dream knows what he/she is willing to give up in order to fulfill the dream. The dominating question is always, “Will it contribute to the dream?”
Strangely enough, many people do the exact opposite. They keep their “options open.” These people spend so much time preserving their options that they can't move forward. But when someone has a dream that person does not have that problem. The pursuit of the dream becomes the priority.
Finally, a great dream enables us to maintain hope and overcome discouragement! Upon looking at our modern culture with all its pessimism and discouragement, Ken Blanchard described it as an “epidemic of tight underwear.” Agree, that's not a pleasant image. But emotionally, many people in our society seem to be waiting on a disaster.
How does a person keep hope alive in a time of discouragement? The phrase, “Hands Busy” is particularly meaningful here. When we sit around and brood we get discouraged. On the other hand, when we stay busy and work at fulfilling the dream we remain hopeful.
Nehemiah said, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down!” A great dream will not only give meaning to life, but it will keep us going.
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.