Dreams are odd things. We sleep away about a third of our lives, resting our bodies and letting our brains piece together and process all that has happened during the day. Beyond that, science has no compelling answer for why we dream. But God has the power to take that mystery and use it to talk to his people in very personal ways.
When Joseph was despised by his brothers, God sent him dreams to foreshadow the position of power he would come to have. Later, Joseph was able to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants whom he had met in prison. So then, when Pharaoh needed the word of the Lord to explain his own dreams, Joseph was called upon and given authority. Throughout his life, Joseph was deeply shaped by his dreams. They got him sold into slavery by his own kin, but then God later used them to bring him power and responsibility. He was a good steward of his dreams.
Perhaps the Lord does not always send dreamers into the world in such a literal way, but I think there is something to be said for those of God’s children who can look past the present realities to see a vision of how the future could or should be. Martin Luther King Jr. did not shy away from the realities of everyday hatred that assailed the American civil rights movement, but he was able to lift his eyes heavenward in faith, looking to the beautiful dream which he had. And that dream – of freedom and equality, of basic human compassion – caught the attention and, finally, the moral will of America. It was a dream that brought the world a little closer to the Kingdom of God.
I want to have those kinds of dreams, to be able to see a bright future that I can help bring to fruition. I think to be effective, though, I might need to sift through the many dreams and work towards only those that are most potent. A prayer I often prayed when I was younger was that the Lord would break my heart for what breaks his, that he would shape my compassions to reflect his own. And consequently, when I look at a world eagerly groaning for the return of the redeemer king, I see a very broken creation.
Around the globe, corrupt and even cruel governments are in power. Even in this country, there is poverty, disparity, and abuse that need not exist. Many churches are sick and portray a twisted image of Christ. And families are often broken instead of being places of refuge. At every level of brokenness, I see a dream – often a distant dream – of the kingdom to come, ruled by the Prince of Peace.
But which dream do I pick? Which vision of wholeness am I most passionate about, and how can I work towards its fulfillment? I think that for me it all comes back to feeding people. I deeply want everyone to have food. I want to somehow close the gap between the massive amounts of food waste in this country and the people who go hungry. I want to help find balance in responsibly feeding people – sure Jesus fed five thousand, but He did not make available those loaves and fishes by exploiting the migrant workers who form the backbone of our cheap and stable food supply.
How do we prioritize our goals in a world that is broken? Who comes first, the hungry mouth next door, or the family thousands of miles away who is being crushed by unfair production conditions? Perhaps if I despair in these small details, I am not dreaming nearly big enough. I know my God is vast beyond all comprehension. I know that with him, all things are possible. My skeptical heart says that it might be possible, but it doesn’t look practical. We have been blessed with the capacity to grow enough food for a blossoming global population, but that nourishment doesn’t always end up where it is most needed. It ends up where the money is.
So part of me wants to dream very big – a wide, expansive vision where we somehow find a way to make money mean less, to level the playing field between the very rich and the very poor, and to remind us that we are all human. I am deeply drawn to this image that is reminiscent of the early church, where means were shared voluntarily among the people. But I also live in America and cherish much of the safety and freedom that it provides. And when I think about the state of the food supply, or even healthcare or education, I am similarly torn between gratitude for the good gifts I enjoy and the intense disparity of those resources.
I acknowledge that the system of sharing used by the early church was voluntary; it could not be forced by a government. So I return to the story of Joseph. He was a dreamer working in the confines of a monarchy, and the Lord used his dreams to bring great good to himself and to many others. So maybe I can be a dreamer in the confines of a democracy, continuing to reflect on the things God has put on my heart. Maybe I can dream big and work small, tackling each task with an eager attitude of servanthood. I can chip away at the injustice of the world little by little, trusting that God will use my work to advance his Kingdom. And I can keep the dreams in mind for perspective and inspiration and perseverance while resolving not to worry, because each day does indeed have enough trouble of its own.
What dream has God put on my heart regarding my vocation and industry?
Katelyn Kuck grew up on a farm and works in the grocery industry in Falls Church, VA. She is a member of the 2015-2016 Falls Church Fellows Program.
Images:FreeImages.com/abcdz2000, Thomas van der Berg