We’ve signed papers, and, if all goes as planned, we’ll soon move into an old farmhouse in the Pennsylvania countryside. For two years dreams have been our only food, and those dreams are being realized.
Dream is a word I’ve always had trouble with.
When I was a child I learned words like sinner, salvation, and cross, but those good words twisted themselves in ugly ways until all I heard was duty, obligation, and sacrifice. My faith boiled down to what I owed to Jesus. There is little room for dreaming in a life of obligation.
Why dream my own dreams when Jesus might say follow me somewhere I did not want to go?
The Jesus who loves me – me! – and not my life of sacrifice taught me how to dream. I wanted to live in the city, I wanted a PhD, I wanted children. They were my dreams, and Jesus made them reality. Each dream realized was a gift from the One who is Love.
Until the day I came to the end of my own dreams.
Pregnant with my third child and only a few hurdles away from my degree, I saw a future that looked blank. The horizon was right up close, and I had nothing to aim for. The dreams I had chased for years had come true, but I had no dreams of my own left to run toward.
We cannot live without dreams. They are as necessary as bread.
But where do we find them?
I know now that our best dreams come from the kingdom of God.
For too long, I looked at Jesus and saw only the cross: a one-time event that left me in his debt. I saw but didn’t see.
Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection were not isolated events. They were beginning and ending. They unleashed something so beautiful and miraculous words just can’t capture it. But we try. We say, as Jesus did all those years of his earthly ministry, “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”
Frederick Buechner puts it so well. Speaking of Jesus’s first followers, he writes: “One way or another Christ called them. … They saw the marvel of him arch across the grayness of things – the grayness of their own lives, perhaps, of life itself. They heard his voice calling their names. And they went” (from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons).
Yes, we are moving to our dream house, but we are not chasing a house. We are chasing Jesus. It has always been his beautiful voice calling to us in the desert. It was his voice that said NO, and NO, and NO when we pursued familiar things like church involvement, an academic career, a life just big enough for three children, no more.
Now, we are living in his YES and everything that looked like sacrifice and hardship has proved to be the surest and best path toward glory.
Buechner goes on, “[Christ] called them to see that no matter how ordinary it may seem to us as we live it, life is extraordinary. … Life even at its most monotonous and backbreaking and heart-numbing has the Kingdom buried in it the way a field has treasures buried in it. … The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. … The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.”
We jumped into the river, though we had no idea where it might take us.
It has taken us home.