How long do dreams last?
In this season of political polarization, it is tempting to hope that we can unite in celebration of Dr. King. But celebrators ought to know whom they are honoring. Dr. King died for striking garbage workers and beseeched his government to protect the vulnerable. He had a message for those who would target immigrants or wall off America from the world. In a 1967 speech, he declared: “Our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than national.” Instead of policing their borders, nations should “develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole.”
The alternative was unacceptable. “History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.” To honor Dr. King is to follow a different path. – New York Times
“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had >a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the >God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to >the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not >leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the >gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. >Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the >Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”” – Genesis 28:10-22 NIV
Some dreams are from God and some are from ourselves, and I think it is important to be able to tell the difference. A dream from God is something bigger than ourselves. It is something that we cannot accomplish on our own, indeed we cannot accomplish without God. It is easy to settle for smaller dreams, more achievable dreams than to reach out and take hold of a dream that may well outlive ourselves.
Jacob was given such a dream. He saw God and God promised to bless Jacob with a land of his own, and Jacob could have stopped there… but God went on. God promised that the whole world would be blessed through Jacob and his descendents. He, like his father Isaac, and grandfather Abraham were blessed to be a blessing.
Jacob celebrated that dream by renaming the city in which he had this vision. He no longer looked upon this ordinary place the same way. It had become the place where heaven touched earth and he saw his place in the great story of creation. He acknowledge that change of vision with a new calling, a new name. God would soon change more than this city’s name… He would soon change Jacob’s name as well, and both would find redemption in this new calling.
How did he make that name change in Luz? Did he go to the local government with a petition? No, he probably just started referring to that place by the new name, to everyone he met. Luz, which meant almond tree, was a nice enough name – but Jacob claimed something greater for it… Bethel, the house of God.
Changing the name of something is just the start though, not the end. Keeping a dream alive requires investment. Jacob told God that if God invested in this dream, Jacob would invest 10% of everything he had into it. Often we get hung up on the 10% thing, particularly regarding money, while neglecting other important things, such as time and energy. The statistics show that the vast majority of people give more like 1% rather than 10% of their wealth – and if you have 168 hours every week, are you giving God 16.8 of those hours? Again, most of us tend to give God just 1 or 2 of those. Then we wonder why the dream dies.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
It doesn’t take a big group or lots of money. It takes someone with a passion and commitment.
If you recall the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus stood before His disciples one last time and shared with them the same dream and promise that Jacob received:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jacob’s family lost the dream, but in a handful of disciples, the dream exploded and continued on to us and through us today!
- What dream has God given you?
- What do you need to change to see it come true?
- What do you need to give for the dream to outlive you?