It’s easy reading history backwards. We know how everything turned out, so there’s no suspense; deadly battles and personal sacrifices seem like no big deal. Of course, we must live history forward. The struggles and conflicts can be a lot more painful and discouraging when you don’t know how the story will end. Others have succeeded, but will you?
I have always appreciated that classic photograph of Wilbur Wright guiding his glider into history at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. I knew that particular flight lasted only 26 seconds and traveled only about 622 feet. But I had not realized the brothers spent three consecutive autumns in North Carolina, far from the family business in Ohio, in order to make that photograph happen. I had never thought about the thousands of crashes, catastrophes, and near misses that were necessary to understand gliding and develop that simple craft. And it had never occurred to me that most people and even many scientists were convinced that man could never fly in any meaningful sense; so that the brothers were publicly dismissed as dreamers and fools. What’s more, even after the famous photograph, Wilbur and Orville would endure additional years of scorn and mockery while developing an engine and making mechanized flight a reality.
We are all encouraged by stories like that: tales of brave men and women who bite the bullet and persist until their dreams come true. If perseverance allowed their dreams to happen, I can hang in there until I succeed, right? Of course, there’s always this voice in your head that sneeringly reminds you others have failed. What do you say to that? Who can know: maybe they simply gave up too soon!
The Bible is a book about big ideas and the people that dared to dream them. Abram, old and fading, dared to believe that God could give him an heir even in his old age! Joseph caught a vision of himself wielding so much power and authority that even his parents would bow down to him. How could that ever happen? David took one look at a 9′ tall giant- a hulking beast who had terrified the entire Army of Israel for days- and then dared to tell his soldier brothers, “I’ll fight that bully!”
Some dreamers claim Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But that’s not really a promise that you are capable of anything you dream. Rather, Paul is saying you have the power to endure any trial you must face in the name of Jesus. That’s good, of course, but it’s not the best verse for dreamers.
I prefer Proverbs 13:12. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” God designed us with a heart that is strengthened and satisfied by great causes and glorious ideas. We all aspire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
And I love Ephesians 3:20, when Paul describes God as “him who can to more than you ask or imagine… whose power is at work within you.”
As the Wright brothers celebrated their world changing 26 second flight on December 17, 1902, they sent word back home to Dayton, Ohio that they had traveled 622 feet in flight; that they would be home for Christmas. The local newspaper tossed the telegram in the wastebasket and simply noted on the last page of the newspaper that two local bike makers would be returning home for the holidays. The editors didn’t believe their account.
It doesn’t matter what they believe, does it? What do you believe? Take joy in your vision and take pains to entrust it to the Lord. He knows what you need before you ask; and he gave you a heart that soars on the wings of dreams.
Lift up the Cross!