given on Sunday, July 1, 2012
Hot summer days are traditionally times when we fall into daydreams. The thoughts of cool vacation spots in the mountains, sitting on a boat in the early morning cool, or lounging on a beach with a book may be the ideal getaway. Daydreaming lets our minds escape and even gives us some mental relief from the harsh realities existing around us.
Why right now I am daydreaming about one of those summer rainy days when the great big, white, boiling clouds show up and the grey on the bottom intensifies until the bolts of lightening strike out. The lightening and thunder usher in the rain that tapers into gentle, cooling showers that soaks into the dry-sponge-like ground.
A rainy day filled with relief from the reality of our drought conditions is a not a daydream but a necessity for us watching the crops and gardens struggling to remain productive. Our daydream must turn into prayers of supplication. We have no means of managing the weather, we have no control and that makes the reality even feel more demoralizing. But, we have faith, we have hope, and we have God. What we forget is to use the tools we have.
Looking at today’s circumstances around the nation, I am reminded of the dreams of the earliest settlers. The land on which we live and farm were here before we were. We must remember that others inhabited this land before the European explorers began their journeys into the unknown. Still, if explorers had not dreamed, would we be living in our homes right now?
Dreaming is a tool. Dreaming led the Puritans to sail to new shores. Dreaming led revolutionaries to begin a new country. Dreaming lead John Wesley to identify methods for developing and growing one’s faith. Dreaming caused Methodism to grow into an active Christian denomination serving one another in love.
Dreaming is not a dangerous activity especially if we dream through God’s eyes. As we read Genesis’s creation story, we can perceive God’s dream to have a universe, to have the flora and the fauna, and to have humanity. As we read through the Old Testament stories, we see how God continually works to preserve the dream.
Imagine the frustration and disappointment even God experiences over and over. His dream is endangered and he sends Jesus to demonstrate the tools needed to preserve the dream—the universe. Jesus, God in human form, is love. Over and over his actions demonstrate how loving one another is the one simple law all people really ever need. God’s dreams, even our dreams, can be achieved by always maintaining that one commandment: Love one another.
Dreaming through God’s eyes ideally leads us to repeatedly implement that law. Loving one another may begin with loving God, loving self, loving family, and loving our neighbors, but it grows. The very law of loving one another becomes a lifestyle; it becomes the driving force behind our daily activities, our jobs, and even our leisure.
In our daily crisis, we fail to maintain that one law. We become so filled with anxiety that looking at the problem through God’s eyes is far from our first thought. We find ourselves panicking as we sense the loss of a dream. We fail to use the tools of our faith to stabilize the crisis. We fail to keep in touch with God. We fail to pray. We fail to read the Bible. We fail to work in community. And, we lose the dream.
As we begin this week, we will take time on Wednesday to celebrate the dreams of our American forefathers. They dreamed. They prayed. And they acted. We value dreams as Americans, we honor dreams of the past. Are we ready to continue dreaming through God’s eyes to continue working to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world?
Maybe I perceive the world through a “Pollyanna” mindset, but I dream. I do not think I could manage the various crisis’s life hands me without my faith. I do not think I could wake up to another 100 degree day without the hope that rain will cool us down—sooner or later. I hope I do see the world through God’s eyes. My dreams, I believe, are ones God’s eyes see.
Yet, I know, too, that I fail. I fail to use the tools. I fail to keep my eyes open. I even fail to dream. Today begins a new year of service to the church; and the dreams of four years ago seem faded. Yet, I refuse to quit dreaming.
Dreaming led me to Acts. Struggling to find a way to renew my dreams, I needed to find the tools to sharpen them. Acts is a book about transition. Luke may have been shaken by the crucifixion, but his faith did not quit. He continued telling Jesus’ story and helped bridge the gap between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
Luke knew the old dreams and even used Joel’s prophecy to reach across the generations:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy. (the NIV)
Even though Pentecost 2012 was celebrated over a month ago, the Pentecost initiated or baptized the Apostles with the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is God’s personal tool that exists within us to carry out the dream of a transformed world, a world of believers working in unity.
Dreaming through God’s eyes leads us to use the tools he gave us, especially prayer and the Holy Ghost, to act in making the dream a reality. The wonderful thing about God’s tools is that they never wear out, never need purchasing, never need redesigning, or anything. Prayer is always available. We can talk to God anytime, anywhere, for any reason. We can cry, laugh, ask, thank, share whatever we have with God. We also can hear God—if we listen in our prayers. We can hear God, when we read the Bible or sing a hymn. We can see God if we watch others who demonstrate loving one another. Prayer is a tool we have 24/7; it is available in an instant, it never leaves us. If we dream, we pray.
Dreaming creates the goal. Prayer is the tool to keep it in touch with God. But what is next? Next comes the action. What tool is there to put the dream into action? The answer is the Holy Ghost.
Even the earliest Christians did not understand how they were going to continue. They asked Peter what they should do. In Acts 2:38, Peter makes one statement concerning how we know the Holy Ghost is with us: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (the NIV)
Understanding the importance of the Holy Spirit—or Ghost—may still be a reason Christians do not know what to do. Every individual has unique gifts, talents to use. We may be carpenters, seamstresses, artists, farmers, bankers, or businessmen. Our success is connected to the gifts we have been given. When we combine all our talents, any dream developed through God’s eyes, can be achieved. The Holy Ghost will provide the inspiration, the skills, the strength, and the pieces needed to accomplish a God-driven dream.
Look at what happens in the face of a natural disaster. When the tornado tore through Joplin, or any community, can we doubt the power of the Holy Ghost? People immediately join in and do what might be considered impossible were it not for God’s role in the work. God—in three people, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—can work miracles. We, his children, are able to perform the miracles needed to put the broken world back together again.
Today, dream. But remember to dream through God’s eyes. When you see something that needs work, dream a little and then pray. Talk to God about the dream you have and ask him for his help. Listen for him, and then act. The Holy Ghost is with you, and you are equipped. Now you just need to act with all the confidence in the world because you are working to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. This is what God has commissioned you to do, so do it.
May your dream for a transformed world be my dream, too.
Give me the vision that you see through your eyes.
Talk to me so I know what you ask me to do.
Help me to use the gifts you have given me to do my share.
Thank you for the gift of your son so we know how to love one another.
Thank you for the gift of the Holy Ghost so we can act in your behalf.
Today we dream, we pray, and now must act.
Guide us as we work to follow your dream.