Impossible Dream

“Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but the one who has my word speak it faithfully.” Jeremiah 23:28

My favorite story in the bible is the one about Joseph. I’m talking Joseph the Dreamer from back in Genesis—the one with the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. The first part of the story isn’t so great. Joe has a dream about being greater than his brothers, his brothers sell him into slavery, his master’s wife frames him for an affair, and Joe spends years in prison. Life sort of beats Joe up.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought “this isn’t how it was supposed to be!”? I know I’ve had days where it just doesn’t seem that things could get worse, and sure enough, they do.

Although I’ve noticed, they normally get better too! They certainly did in Joseph’s story. After Joe interprets his cellmate’s dreams, Joe gets invited to Pharaoh’s court, and eventually becomes Pharaoh’s “number two” ruling over all of Egypt. And it doesn’t stop there! Joe’s brothers come to Egypt seeking food during a famine, and Joe eventually gets—not only an apology—but reunited with his family.

In a way, Joe’s dream comes true…but probably not in the way he expected.

Of course Joseph the Carpenter also has a dream (this one isn’t spelled out as clearly in the bible.) He dreams of marrying his new wife, being proud of his children, and passing on his family business to his son. But then his fiancé comes and says she’s already pregnant. She says that God has a different plan for them and the only begotten son she’s going to have will never be Joe’s.

Things get worse…and then they get better. Joe is given a new dream from God that the child Mary is carrying will be the salvation of mankind, and Joe is going to help make that happen. Joe gets a wife, is proud of a son, and is brought in to work in God’s family business.

Joe’s dream comes true…but probably not in the way he expected.

As I’ve gone back to school this semester, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. My friends have dreams. My classmates have dreams. My professors have dreams. And as I’ve listened to them talk about their dreams, I’ve noticed that everyone is very stressed out about their dreams. Will they do it? When will it happen? Have they done what they needed to do so far to make their dream? What do people think about their dreams?

In a lot of ways, our culture is built on dreams. We all have the American Dream. Some say that dream is to own a home. Others say it is to have a great careers. Some may argue it’s to provide for a family.

I think about some of the dreams I’ve had in my life.
~When I was six, I dreamed of being a veterinarian (but what six-year-old doesn’t.)
~In High School, I dreamed of going to med school (even though I never really wanted to be a doctor.)
~For years, I’ve dreamed of being a boss (but now I find that it’s lonely and stressful at the top.)
Sometimes I realize…I don’t know what I’m dreaming about anymore.

I never dreamed I’d be a manger for the Boy Scouts. I never dreamed I’d work in a SCUBA shop. I never dreamed I’d study abroad…but these three things have been three of the coolest memories I have.

It seems like sometimes dreams just happen…but not in the way we expect.

A verse that jumped out to me when I was wrestling with these uncertain thoughts of the future was Hebrews 12:1. In it, the author has just listed various “heroes of the bible” whose lives were transformed through various terrifying situations. After naming all of these great dreamers, they conclude by saying, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.”

Three things jump out to me here

~I noticed “The cloud of witnesses”…Other great dreamers have had dreams before. Abraham, Moses, Joesph, David, Rahab, etc…and all of them had their dreams turned upside down. By no action or effort of the dreamers, they were hurtled into situations. Things got worse, and then they got better.

~I noticed “The things that hinder and entangle us”…I think our expectations in life are often what entangle us. We get so stuck on “how life was supposed to be” that we stop moving forward. We become victims to our circumstance. We cling to routines that make us feel safe instead of God’s ways of making us feel alive.

~I notice “The race marked out for us”…God has a race prepared for us, and he just wants us to run. Just one foot in front of the other is all he asks. We don’t need to fear, we don’t need to worry, we don’t need to plan...we just need to run.

It’s easy to admire dreamers. Dreamers take control and do things. But God normally steps in with a reminder that His ways are greater than our ways and His dreams are greater than our dreams. Does that mean God does not want us to be dreamers? I think God wants to show us things that are far better than we ever could have dreamed.  

After all, we’re talking about a God who:

·       Dreamed of rainbows after a flood

·       Dreamed of defeating giants with a stone

·       Dreamed of walking on water

·       Dreamed of feeding 5000 with scant food

·       Dreamed of resurrections after crucifixions

Isn’t it time we joined him in the race and let Him dream our dreams?

I think the band Imagine Dragons says it well in their song “round and round.” I invite you to listen to the lyrics as they sing about how everyone wonders where their life is going, but the action that counts is that we keep going.

May God transform your dreams, and may you have perseverance for the race of life.

Zach Herzog

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