This evening I read a wonderful sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. I’d not read the sermon before but was especially moved by the topic.
It’s a painful idea, isn’t it? The phrase “unfulfilled dreams” has a lonely tone, as though when our dreams go unfulfilled life has short changed us. Life or, perhaps, God.
In his sermon, Dr. King spoke of Gandhi’s desire to unite India and yet he died with the country split. He spoke of David’s dream of building the temple, but of how David died before the work was complete. And of course Dr. King would go on to be assassinated before his now infamous dream would be anything close to realized.
It’s an aching truth we are not guaranteed our dreams will become a reality.
I take issue with Christian teachers who teach otherwise. Because we have a vision does not guarantee that vision will happen, regardless of our faith.
But this caused me to also consider the beauty of the dream, the beauty of the vision all the same. It takes such courage to have a dream. And it takes more to communicate that dream, and even more to take steps to make it happen.
I’ve no doubt Dr. King, Gandhi and King David each enjoyed their lives. Each of them lived lives filled with conflict and pain, and none of them got what they wanted within their lifetimes, and yet a meaningful life doesn’t have to be a life in which our dreams are fulfilled. It’s enough to dream, isn’t it? To dream is to inspire, regardless of whether the dream becomes a reality.
And their dreams live on today, perhaps without their knowing.
We are still moved by their dreams. We walk the Mall in Washington and are moved by the speech that was once given there. We see generations of Jews still praying at the western wall, dreaming their own dream about a temple rebuilt.
There is no guarantee our dreams will come true in our lifetimes, and for some, dreams will never be realized at all. But is that the point of dreaming?
Must our dreams be realized, or is the call to dream them in the first place?
Humans are given the ability to dream. We are given the ability to imagine a future and then the ability, in part, to make it happen. In this way we have been made in God’s image. We can imagine things and then turn them into a reality.
I believe a human being has more than an ability to dream. I believe we have a responsibility to dream. I believe we who know God should point toward the distant horizon of a better world and lead the world to that place.
And when our dreams don’t become a reality, we must realize our dreams have power all the same. They can motivate those around us. Our dreams can inspire generations who will keep the work going to realize a good and proper dream.
We must understand the realization of the dream is not so much the gift as the dream itself.
So my question to you is, have you stopped dreaming? Have you stopped having a dream and if so, why? And what is lost in the world because you have given up your dreams?
The scriptures say “And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.”
God did not give David his dream, but God honored David’s dream and was pleased by it.
What is your dream? Is it a healthy family? Reconciliation? Forgiving an enemy? A church? A mission field? A book or a song? What is your dream and why did you let it go?
Are you waiting for a guarantee it will happen before moving forward?
If so, don’t.
Simply have the dream, do the work, honor the Lord and inspire the world.
Let me ask you this: Is there a dream you’ve had that you are realizing is not going to come to fruition? And how does that make you feel? Are you still inspired to pursue that dream? Feel free to share your story in the comments below. And feel free to chase the dream even when the outcome is unknown — that’s called courage.