When I was a kid, my ambition was to be a bomb disposal expert for the army. I fancied myself as a bit of a GI Jane character, camouflage streaks dotted across my cheeks, I’d swoop into a hostile situation (in my open topped jeep) ready to diffuse the ticking bomb. The only question was, red wire or blue wire?
Later, when a careers advisor at school (gently) suggested instead that I take a typing course and ‘become a secretary’, I was crushed. Turns out that being in the army was a little less glamorous than I had imagined and from there, to age 18, I swung between wanting to be a nurse, or a journalist before deciding (for sure) that I’d definitely be a lawyer.
Whatever I ended up doing, one thing was for sure, I had dreams, I believed anything was possible.
I was reminded this week about the story of Joseph (in the Bible). If you’ve seen the stage or movie adaptation of his life, you’ll know he too was a kid with big dreams. He also seemed to be a kid with a big mouth and no sense of tact.
At night while he slept, he dreamt of wheat sheafs and planets and in each of the dreams, others were bowing down to him. In his excitement (or naivety, however you want to look at it), he shared this with his brothers and father. Things quickly turned ugly and out of jealousy/anger, Joseph’s brothers sold him to passing slave traders, pretending to their father he’d been killed by a wild animal.
As the years passed by, through a series of tragic circumstances, Joseph ended up in prison, but it seems he never gave up hope, he never gave up dreaming. We don’t really know what his thoughts were during the prison years, but whenever he saw an opportunity for freedom, he would ask for others to put in a good word for him.
Perhaps he knew that one day he’d be free? And in the end, he was. He was brought out of prison to help interpret someone else’s dreams and as the years went by, his own dreams finally came true.
I’ve been in Tanzania this week with work and the power of dreams, of hopes for the future has struck me all over again. We met people who were climbing out of the dark prison of poverty and we met others who didn’t yet have a route out, but could see that help was on its way.
Different people we spoke to, had dreams. One wanted to go to university, one wanted to be a doctor, one wanted to live in America. Practically, they were facing pretty insurmountable odds, but they still had hope. They still had dreams.
Towards the end of the trip, we had some quiet time to reflect and in a moment of semi prayer/semi thought, I heard the words (in my head), When did you stop dreaming?
I hadn’t realised that I had.
I mean, we all have vague hopes for the future, but when I unpacked those words, I began to see.
When did I, like my 12-year-old-self, stop dreaming for big, outrageous things?
When did I stop believing that anything was possible? What would it take to be like the people I met this week, to be like Joseph, to believe and expect exciting things?
I can’t complain. Life is good, but wouldn’t it be sharper, sweeter, if I started to dream a little? If you or I could be or do anything, what would it be? If God fulfilled one big desire in your life, what would that look like?
Why not ask for it? Why not start to believe it’s possible?
Why not live as though the answer is on the way?