The Joy of Disillusionment

Disillusionment

If you’re feeling disillusioned today, you should be thankful. Why? Because disillusionment is an essential part of coming to terms with reality, which is the only way your life can be transformed.

We all need to be dis-illusioned from time to time—because that means being freed from our illusions. Dictionaries define an “illusion” as “a false mental image produced by misinterpretation of things that actually exist.” Until disillusionment has occurred in our lives, we’re walking in unreality, unable to experience authentic vision.

If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you’ve faced various kinds of disillusionment at one time or another in your life. Perhaps you’ve found yourself disillusioned about the goodness of humanity…the “happily ever after” of your marriage vows…your success as a parent…or God’s desire and ability to work out all things for your good. Or maybe you’ve been disillusioned about the Lord’s promises to heal you sicknesses or provide for your financial needs.

Jesus’ death on the cross was the most disillusioning event in history. His closest followers were devastated. After having high expectations during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12-19), a week later they were hiding out in a locked room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Peter and some of the other disciples even sought comfort in turning back to their old occupation of fishing (John 21).

The pain of disillusionment can also be felt in the words of the two disciples walking to Emmaus: “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Perhaps there was something that you too “were hoping” that failed to come to pass in the way you expected. Your “hoped deferred” has made you heartsick (Proverbs 13:12). But if so, be on the alert—Jesus may be right there walking with you at the very moment you’re complaining that He’s abandoned you.

God, in His painful mercy, will often strip us of false expectations. The disillusioned disciples couldn’t point to any promise Jesus failed to keep. Instead, their disappointment was rooted in their false belief that He would overthrow the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. Until we are stripped of our own dreams, God can’t give us His dreams—which are far better!

God shakes our false hopes so He can give us a hope that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:26), hope that serves as an “anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Not only do the times of testing reveal our faulty belief systems, they also prove the faithfulness of the “heavenly vision” we have been truly given by God (Acts 26:19).

Disillusioned Dreamers

The pages of Scripture are filled with examples of men and women of God who had great vision, yet faced times of severe disillusionment. Moses, David, and Elijah were among those who evidenced great depression and discouragement.

Jeremiah once accused God of being unreliable and of deceiving him (Jeremiah 15:18). At another point he was so tired of persecution that he declared he would no longer speak the word of the Lord (Jeremiah 20:7-9).

John the Baptist had boldly declaring that Jesus was the lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). But he became so discouraged in his prison cell that he questioned whether Jesus was truly the Messiah or not: “Are you really the one we are waiting for, or shall we keep on looking?” (Matthew 11:3 TLB)

These examples illustrate an important lesson: If you’ve been disillusioned, you’re in good company! Disillusionment was experienced by David, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus’ disciples—and probably every Christian who has ever lived.

Recovering from Disillusionment

Although the Lord can dramatically appear and erase our discouragement in a moment, He often chooses to use a process. If you are currently facing the dark night of disillusionment, here are some important lessons that can speed your recovery:

Recognize disillusionment’s inevitability. You might as well not take your situation personally, for this is a condition that everyone will face.

Recognize disillusionment’s benefits. Since disillusionment is actually just the process of being delivered from our illusions, you might as well start thanking God instead of being mad at Him. Be glad that you’re being stripped of your illusions, because the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Repent of the false beliefs (illusions) that have caused your disillusionment. The entire book of Job deals with the painful process by which Job was set free from false beliefs. Often our illusions affect a few key areas of our life:

  • Illusions regarding God. These illusions tend to be one of two faulty extremes: seeing God as our Heavenly Butler instead of our Heavenly Father; or seeing Him as a cruel taskmaster who is never satisfied with us or others.
  • Illusions regarding the Christian life or the church. Many people still cling to the clearly erroneous view that if we really exercise faith in God, we can cruise through life with no problems. And much of the disillusionment among Christians stems from misguided illusions they once had about how loving, sincere, and holy other believers would be.
  • Illusions regarding ourselves. If we don’t recognize the depravity of our hearts apart from God’s grace (Jeremiah 17:9), it will be a rude awakening when we finally face the truth of our fallen condition.

Even though God wants to deliver us from our illusions, He certainly does not want us to stop dreaming big dreams of faith. While illusions are false beliefs—idols of our own making—dreams of faith are God-inspired vision. Such dreams are an indispensable trait of any successful endeavor.

When are you too old to dream such dreams? Never! God promises, “In the last days…your young men shall see visions. Your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). This should be an incredible encouragement to us to never quit dreaming, for even old people are supposed to have dreams. Rather than becoming cynical as we age, God wants us to gain ever-increasing faith and vision.

Yes, our aspirations and hopes may be stripped for a time. We may well face the “death of a vision” we felt was from the Lord. Yet God is a God of resurrection. Even as He allows us to pass through the Valley of Disillusionment, it’s all part of His process to raise up an army of dreamers, not afraid to dream dreams and take bold steps of faith to extend His kingdom.

The pain of disillusionment can be replaced with a tidal wave of joy. How do I know? Because “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). If you’re currently experiencing a dark night of disillusionment, it doesn’t have to last forever. Joy is on the way!

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The Strange Story of Apple’s Forgotten Founder

Ron Wayne

By now, just about everyone on the planet knows that Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc. Many people also realize that Steve Wozniak was a cofounder when Apple was launched 40 years ago.

But the most intriguing founder of Apple was Ron Wayne, the third member of the team. Wayne had a 10% stake in Apple when it began, but he soon relinquished it because of fears of personal liability if the company didn’t do well.

In an attempt to explain his decision, Wayne later said:

There would be significant bumps along the way, and I couldn’t risk it. I had already had a rather unfortunate business experience before. I was getting too old and those two [Jobs and Wozniak] were whirlwinds. It was like having a tiger by the tail, and I couldn’t keep up with these guys.

Because of these fears, Wayne surrendered his share of Apple for just $2300. Today 10% of Apple would have been worth about $70 billion.

Ron Wayne’s choice to bail out of Apple may well have been the worst financial decision in human history—losing out on $70 billion just to play it safe.

But before we’re too hard on Wayne, we each should ask ourselves whether we’ve made similar bets. Have we missed out on God’s provision because we feared failure and were unwilling to take the necessary risks to succeed? Have we bailed out of some enterprise too early, right before our breakthrough came?

Perhaps you have regrets about some decision in your past, wondering what might have been if you had hung in there a little longer. As Ron Wayne predicted about Apple, there will be “significant bumps along the way” if you do the right thing. But the payoff might be beyond your wildest dreams.

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Resurrecting the Dead Things in Your Life

Dry bones

One of the Bible’s most incredible statements is that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead now lives in us (Romans 8:11). Why then do I meet so many people who have dead areas in their lives, still awaiting Christ’s resurrection life?

I’m convinced that just about everyone has some aspect of their life in need of a resurrection. Dead hopes and dreams. Dead careers. Dead marriages. Dead relationships with parents, kids, or siblings. Or perhaps physical ailments in need of a touch from the resurrected Christ.

Can you relate to this? Is there some area of your life that has become stagnant, dry, or even dead? If so, some powerful lessons to be learned from Ezekiel’s stunning vision of God resurrecting the “dry bones” of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37).

As the vision began, Ezekiel found himself “in the midst of a valley” (v. 1). Isn’t it interesting that some of our greatest revelations from God come when we’re in a valley of some kind? We all crave mountaintop experiences, of course, but more often our biggest breakthroughs occur when we’re down in some valley or pit.

In this valley, Ezekiel didn’t just see one dead object. The valley was full of bones,” body parts that once had been alive, but now were dead. In the same way, when we find ourselves sitting in a hopeless place, it’s hard to see signs of life anywhere. Death seems to have a cascading effect, spreading almost like cancer. Perhaps it started with a job loss, but then it turned into marital disharmony, depression, or addiction.

Surrounded by death and dryness on every side, the prophet is asked a very important question: “Can these bones live?” (v. 3) When an area of your life has seemingly died, this is a question you will have to confront. Is there any hope? Is it still possible for resurrection to come?

The temptation, of course, is simply to say, “It’s over. Once something has died, there’s no hope it will ever return to life.” Despite being a man of faith, even Ezekiel had little confidence this story was going to have a happy ending. Instead of boldly proclaiming that the dry bones would surely live, all he can muster is the lame response, “O Lord God, You know” (v. 3).

At this point in the story, God gets Ezekiel involved in the recovery plan, instructing him to “prophesy to these bones” and tell them to “hear the word of the Lord” (v. 4). If you’re ever going to experience the resurrection of a dead area of your life, it’s unlikely God will allow you to remain a passive bystander. No, He will give you an assignment, something you can do to spark the turnaround.

Ezekiel is told to speak to the troublesome circumstances, commanding them to heed God’s Word. That’s a pretty good starting place for us as well. We need to start speaking words of life and hope to the dead things in our life, telling them to line up with the Word of God.

When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord and prophesied, “there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling” (v. 7). It can be a scary thing when our dead things begin to rattle, shake, and make noises! But this is often what happens when God begins to restore dead things to life. Rather than bring us fear, these should be signs of hope.

Next, “the bones came together, bone to bone” (v. 7). There’s power in agreement and relationship (Matthew 18:19-20). God’s plan is to bring us together, but if the devil can keep us separated and isolated, our dryness and defeat will continue unabated.

Finally, the Spirit of God breathed on these dead bones, bringing them back to life. The Israelites had said, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost” (v. 11), but the Lord brought them resurrection and pointed them to a hope-filled future.

Notice that this is not a self-help story. Dead bones don’t come back to life by trying harder. Something supernatural  needs to happen in order to bring dead things back to life.

This great story is about resurrection and hope, but it’s also about purpose. Although the bones had been lifeless and nonfunctional for a long time before, they “stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (v. 10). You see, it’s not just about God resurrecting your hopes and dreams so you can have a happier life. It’s about rising up to fulfill your purpose in His mighty army.

Can you hear the Spirit beginning to breathe on you today? It’s not too late for a resurrection!

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Recovering Your Lost Dreams

Abbie and Hamish kiss 2015

This weekend my precious daughter Abbie is getting married to a wonderful New Zealander named Hamish McKoy. As we prepare for the festivities on the outskirts of Wellington, I find myself reflecting on a lesson I learned from Abbie over two decades ago.

It was bedtime at the Buchan household, and I asked my two young daughters, “What do you want to pray before you go to bed, girls?”

Molly, seven years old at the time, prayed for the Dubles, some good friends who were missionaries in Kenya.

Then Abbie, who was four, chimed in, “Lord, I pray I don’t have any bad dreams. No! I pray I don’t have any dreams at all!”

At first I thought it was humorous that someone would not only pray against bad dreams, but against having any dreams at all. But then God pointed out the surprising fact that I often had similar feelings toward my own dreams.

As you’ve probably already discovered, it’s painful when our fondest dreams turn into nightmares. Although we may not be as honest as Abbie was in her prayer, at times it would seem a great relief to eliminate our dreams altogether. Wouldn’t it be easier to just become a zombie or a mind-numbed robot…putting your life on autopilot and eliminating any new initiatives or risky adventures?

Becoming a Dreamer Again

If you’ve become a disillusioned dreamer, you’re not alone. Yet it’s important to see that not all “dis-illusionment” is bad, for we all have “illusions” in our lives that are not from God. (Remind me to tell you that story about the Perfect Church sometime…)

Jesus’ death on the cross was the most disillusioning event in history. His closest followers were devastated, going from their grandiose expectations at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:12-19) to hiding out in a locked room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Peter and some of the others even sought comfort in turning back to their old occupation of fishing (John 21).

And the pain of disillusionment can be felt in the words of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). How sad! These men “had hoped” they could count on Jesus to fulfill their dreams, but now their hopes were past tense.

However, at the very time these discouraged men were feeling this way, the resurrected Lord Jesus was walking right beside them! What a great lesson. When our dreams are dashed to the ground and all hope seems lost, the Source of ALL hope is right there with us, ready to open our eyes again to new possibilities.

You’re Never Too Old

Perhaps you think you’re simply too old to dream. My generation of fellow Baby Boomers was perhaps the greatest generation of dreamers to ever live. But now we’re getting OLD, as my kids can attest to.

So is it time to admit defeat and simply stop dreaming dreams? No way! In fact, God has a prophetic word just for us: “In the last days…your young men will see visions, your OLD men will DREAM DREAMS” (Acts 2:17). Let it be, Lord!

No matter how old or young you may be, I encourage you to keep on seeing visions and dreaming dreams. Yes, as Abbie recognized, dreams sometimes are scary or even painful. But we’re entering into days when we’ll need God to raise up a new army of dreamers—taking bold action to impact the world for His kingdom.

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Recovering from Spiritual Amnesia

The Perils of Forgetting Who You Are

There’s a lot of amnesia going around lately, and I wonder if you might be a victim. To my surprise, I’ve discovered that I’m a recovering amnesiac myself. More on that in a moment, but first let me give you some background on the kind of amnesia I’m referring to.

Several years ago, my wife and I watched a rather lame made-for-TV movie on the Lifetime network. A woman was comatose after a serious car accident, and when she awoke she had no idea who she was. Eventually she regained her identity and reestablished her relationship with family members, but it wasn’t easy.

There’s a similar scene in my favorite musical, “Man of La Mancha.” Don Quixote has fallen into a coma after suffering what amounts to a nervous breakdown, and he’s seemingly on this deathbed. When visited by the love of his life, the “virtuous lady Dulcinea” (also known as the barmaid Aldonza), he doesn’t even recognize her. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to recognize himself as the valiant knight who had once pursued “the impossible dream.”

It’s a terrible thing to forget who you are. But fortunately, Don Quixote rediscovered his dream and remembered who he was. Reawakened to his destiny, he was ready again “to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”

I had a similar experience a few years ago. No, I wasn’t in an accident, nor did I fall into a coma or experience a nervous breakdown. I certainly wasn’t on my deathbed, at least not physically.

But just like the woman in the TV movie or Don Quixote, I had forgotten who I was.

My recovery was triggered by a phone call I made to an old friend named Jim Byers. We live in different states, and I had lost touch with for more than a decade until the day I happened to stumble across him on Facebook.

At first this phone call was a little awkward. What would we talk about after so long? I considered ending the call after just a few minutes, saying something like, “Well, it was great hearing your voice again, Jim. I just wanted to say hello.”

But like a mighty locomotive, the conversation slowly gained momentum. We talked of old times, when we joyously ministered together and reached out to pastors and churches across the state of Ohio in the 1980s. God really used us back then, and we had a blast in the process.

Although I lost track of how long we talked, it must have been more than an hour and a half. I rarely talk to anyone that long, but it was worth it.

So what does any of this have to do with amnesia?

After my marathon conversation with Jim Byers, I concluded that I had forgotten a piece of who I am. Oh, it’s not that I have a bad life now. I have some friends here in the Carolinas, and I believe my preaching and writing have never been more powerful.

Yet there was something special about the way God used Jim Byers and me to encourage pastors and help them find the resources they needed for greater vitality in their churches. I miss those days, just like I’ve missed the depth of friendship I experienced with Jim.

Of course, there’s another side of this. Paul says we should forget some of the things in our past so we can press onward toward our calling in Christ (Philippians 3:12-14). Yet he also told Timothy to REMEMBER and “fan into flame” what God had spoken to him and done in his life in the past (1 Timothy 1:18, 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NIV). If Timothy was to “fight the battle well,” he needed to remember who he was.

What about you? Have you, by chance, forgotten some important aspect of who God has gifted you to be? Do you need to read some of your old journals or have a conversation with a friend you haven’t talked to in decades?

If you’ve been an amnesiac like me, this can be your day to reawaken your dreams. It’s time to remember the glorious quest that once brought great joy to your heart.

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The Parable of the Too-Short Bed

I once inherited a bed that was too short. Ordinarily, it’s not a big problem if you have a short bed, because you can always dangle your feet over the edge. But this bed came with a troublesome railing that prevented me from exceeding its length.

So every night I huddled in an uncomfortable, contorted position, unable to fully stretch out or extend myself. This wasn’t quite a fetal position, but it had pretty much the same effect.

I wonder if I might be a few inches taller today if it hadn’t been for my years spent on that too-short bed.

But it turns out I’m not the only one who has faced such an experience. The prophet Isaiah describes exactly this condition: “You will be like the person in the proverb, who tries to sleep in a bed too short to stretch out on, with a blanket too narrow to wrap himself in” (28:20 GNT).

If you’ve been feeling restless lately, this may be the reason. Perhaps you’re trying to fit into a place you’ve inherited from someone else—a “bed” that is too small for you. Or maybe you’ve been like the frustrated baby who simply has outgrown his once-perfect crib. Or perhaps the doctrinal “blanket” that once kept you so cozy is now too narrow to cover your expanding insights.

You are not alone in your restlessness. But you can’t stay in that kind of bed…or try to cover yourself with that kind of blanket.

One day a group of men from Elisha’s prophetic team came and complained to him: The place where we live is too small! Give us permission to go to the Jordan and cut down some trees, so that we can build a place to live (2 Kings 6:1-2 GNT).

“One day” these men finally realized something that must have been simmering inside them for a long time. Their growth and fruitfulness were being confined by the place they had inherited. It once had been a wonderful and comfortable place for them. But now they had outgrown it, and they realized it was time to branch out and build a place of their own.

It’s interesting that these spiritual men felt they had to ask PERMISSION from Elisha before setting out on their new endeavor. Do you feel you need to get someone else’s permission before you can fulfill your calling in the Lord? If so, don’t delay!

As this story progresses, we see that these men had the wisdom to take Elisha with them on their journey to expand their territory, as Jabez likewise had done (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Instead of rejecting their original place of covering, they were honoring it.

What is your story today? Have you outgrown a situation where you once thrived?

Take time to assess the bed you’ve been sleeping on…the blanket you’ve been wrapping yourself in…and the place where you’ve been dwelling. If you’ve been tossing and turning, cramped in a near-fetal position, it may be time for a change.

 

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The Excruciating Wait

As almost everyone knows, faith is an indispensable key to getting your prayers answered (Matthew 9:29). But when you look at the stories of men and women of faith throughout the Bible, you nearly always see another vital ingredient at work: PATIENCE.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’re clearly told it’s through “faith AND patience” that we’ll be able to activate God’s promises (Hebrews 6:12).

Yet waiting is hard. It was difficult for people in Bible days, and perhaps it’s harder than ever in today’s instant-gratification, microwave, fast-food and fast-everything culture. If we have to wait more than five minutes for our food at McDonald’s, we’re ready to call for a Congressional investigation.

But the waiting process is even harder when it seems to go on forever, with absolutely no signs of a breakthrough. And when the thing we’re waiting for is very important to us, the wait can be EXCRUCIATING.

No wonder Solomon wrote, Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Perhaps you’ve experienced that kind of painful delay at times. I certainly have.

However, we’re in very good company if we’re struggling to wait for God to fulfill His promises. Here’s just a partial list of Bible heroes who had to endure an excruciating wait time:

  • Abraham and Sarah had to wait decades for God to give them a son.
  • Jacob had to wait and work for seven years to win Rachel’s hand in marriage—but then ended up with Leah instead. Seven additional years of work were required by Laban so he could have Rachel too.
  • Joseph as a teen was given some vivid prophetic dreams about his destiny, but he had to endure excruciating years of adversity before his dreams were fulfilled.
  • David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as Israel’s next king, but he wasn’t able to actually take the throne until many years later.
  • Martha and Mary asked Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus—but He seemed to arrive too late! Fortunately, Jesus not only was able to heal, He also could raise their brother from the dead.

Are you agonizing today about some prayer request that hasn’t been answered yet? Is there some longtime dream you’re waiting for God to fulfill? If so, don’t give up! Be patient, and avoid the temptation to take matters into your own hands, as Abraham and Sarah did in having a child by Hagar. Good things are birthed in God’s “waiting room.”

Earlier in this blog post, I shared Solomon’s observation that “hope deferred” can lead to a sick heart. Thankfully, the verse doesn’t end there. Solomon adds this great promise: “When the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”  Other versions say “a dream fulfilled” or “a longing fulfilled.”

This is fantastic news for all of us. Yes, our hopes and dreams may be deferred or detoured at times. But the excruciating wait will make the fulfillment all the more meaningful and wondrous.

Our patience will be rewarded. I’m counting on it.

 

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Transitions…or Not?

I have a love-hate relationship with transitions. Whenever friends tell me they are going through “transitions” in their life, my heart goes out to them. I’ve been there and done that—and transitions are seldom fun or easy.

However, I also feel sorry for people who aren’t going through any transitions at all. Too often, such folks are dealing with a situation far worse than transitions. They’re stuck in place, locked in an unhealthy coffin of contentment and apathy.

If you’ve ever been through major transitions, you know they’re uncomfortable, and sometimes even terrifying. They typically feel akin to a whitewater rafting trip where you’ve lost your oars and have absolutely no control of where you’re going.

Yet again, the opposite is not so great either. If you aren’t experiencing any transitions at all, it feels like your raft is dead in the water. Just sitting there. No progress in any direction. What a dreadfully boring life…

Sometimes we have a choice to make in whether or not to allow a transition. One day Jesus challenged some fishermen: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He was giving these men a choice, and certainly not an easy choice at the time. It was a choice to engage in a lifetime of self-denial and constant transitions—but the world would ultimately be transformed as a result of their decision.

Another great story about transition involved four lepers who were sitting on the edge of a city on the brink of starvation because of being surrounded by an enemy army, the Syrians. Things were looking bleak, when finally one of the lepers pointed out an obvious fact: “Why are we sitting here until we die?” (2 Kings 7:3-9)

What a profound observation! Like these lepers, if we just sit in place, refusing to take bold steps of faith, we will surely die. In fact, I’ve met people who are already dead in some ways. Although they are still walking around, their hopes, dreams, and visions have died long before.

No, I don’t really like transitions. I would prefer to just find some comfortable oasis and camp out there until Jesus returns.

And one thing I especially dislike about transitions is the feeling of being “in-between.” It’s like being in limbo—knowing you’re not where you used to be, but not where you’re going to be either.

But I’ve discovered that I’m even more afraid of getting stuck than I’m afraid of transitions. Like every other believer, I know I’m called to be increasingly conformed to the image of Christ, and that process will be thwarted if I’m unwilling to grow and change.

So, whether you are going through a difficult transition or feel stuck in place, my heart goes out to you either way. Yet I’ve concluded that transitions are preferable after all. They are an indispensable part of God’s plan to take you from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18, Proverbs 4:18).

So if the white waters of transition are raging all around you, don’t panic. Hang on to the Lord and try to enjoy the ride. You’ll be better for it in the end.

 

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Keeping Your Dreams Alive

Recently I’ve found myself humming “I Dreamed a Dream,” a song from the Les Miserables musical. If you haven’t watched the YouTube video of Susan Boyle singing this on Britain’s Got Talent, I encourage you do so. It’s inspiring!

But I’ve never given much thought to the lyrics of the song until today, when I did a Google search. It turns out that the chorus says this:

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Yet, to my surprise, much of the song is actually a downer, recounting dreams that ended long ago: “Then I was young and unafraid, and dreams were made and used and wasted.” By the song’s end, the circumstances of life have torn the dreams apart, and the author comes to this gloomy conclusion: “Life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

What a bummer!

As Joseph was labeled by his brothers (Genesis 39:19), I’ve frequently been described as a “dreamer,” so this whole matter of “dreaming dreams” has always been important to me. However, dreaming is a hazardous activity, and I’ve often struggled to keep my dreams alive. (Someday I’ll tell you the story of when I dreamed of planning the “Perfect Church.” It didn’t take long for “reality” to erode my lofty dreams…)

What about you? Are you still dreaming dreams, or do you speak of your dreams only in the past tense?

A Lesson From Abbie

A personal story from two decades ago illustrates the challenge of keeping our dreams alive. It was bedtime at the Buchan household, and I asked my two young daughters, “What do you want to pray before you go to bed, girls?”

Molly, seven years old at the time, prayed for the Dubles, some good friends who were missionaries in Kenya.

Then Abbie, who was four, chimed in, “Lord, I pray I don’t have any bad dreams. No! I pray I don’t have any dreams at all!”

At first I thought it was humorous that someone would not only pray against bad dreams, but against having any dreams at all. But then God pointed out the surprising fact that I often had similar feelings toward my own dreams.

As you’ve probably already discovered, it’s painful when our fondest dreams turn into nightmares. Although we may not be as honest as Abbie was in her prayer, at times it would seem a great relief to eliminate our dreams altogether. Wouldn’t it be easier to just become a zombie or a mind-numbed robot…putting your life on autopilot and eliminating any new initiatives or risky adventures?

Becoming a Dreamer Again

If you’ve become a disillusioned dreamer, you’re not alone. Yet it’s important to see that not all “dis-illusionment” is bad, for we all have “illusions” in our lives that are not from God. (Remind me to tell you that story about the Perfect Church sometime…)

Jesus’ death on the cross was the most disillusioning event in history. His closest followers were devastated, going from their grandiose expectations at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:12-19) to hiding out in a locked room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Peter and some of the others even sought comfort in turning back to their old occupation of fishing (John 21).

And the pain of disillusionment can be felt in the words of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). How sad! These men “had hoped” they could count on Jesus to fulfill their dreams, but now their hopes were past tense.

However, at the very time these discouraged men were feeling this way, the resurrected Lord Jesus was walking right beside them! What a great lesson. When our dreams are dashed to the ground and all hope seems lost, the Source of ALL hope is right there with us, ready to open our eyes again to new possibilities.

You’re Never Too Old

Perhaps you think you’re simply too old to dream. My generation of fellow Baby Boomers was perhaps the greatest generation of dreamers to ever live. But now we’re getting OLD, as my kids can attest to.

So is it time to admit defeat and simply stop dreaming dreams? No way! In fact, God has a prophetic word just for us: “In the last days…your young men will see visions, your OLD men will DREAM DREAMS” (Acts 2:17). Let it be, Lord!

No matter how old or young you may be, I encourage you to keep on seeing visions and dreaming dreams. Yes, as Abbie recognized, dreams sometimes are scary or even painful. But we’re entering into days when we’ll need God to raise up a new army of dreamers—taking bold action to impact the world for His kingdom.

 

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