“I have a dream” – four words made famous by Martin Luther King Jr. Words that broke down the walls of racial barriers. Four words we all declare over and over in the secret places of our hearts.
Everyone has a dream, a secret hope or longing. As Americans, we are taught early how to dream. As Christians, we are further inspired to dream. Sometimes that silent dream is to be used by God – a prayer for a life of significance.
We pray with good intentions. We really do want to be used by God for his kingdom.
So many of us pray, “God give me a dream – give me a purpose!” but we don’t really mean it. We want a dream that fits tidily into our idyllic future.
When God says no to a job you love, where you’re living, or calls you to be single, removes someone from your life you can’t live without, or allows a disaster to happen that will later turn into a ministry, we pitch a fit.
This is normal.
But remember, you didn’t want normal. You wanted to be led. You wanted God’s unlimited plan.
I wonder what God thinks when we pray gigantic prayers we don’t fully understand and then get mad at him when he answers them. Just like we would have been mad at him had he not answered them.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream – and it probably didn’t involve getting shot and leaving his family widowed at the age of 39. But now, nearly five decades later, the segregation laws have been shattered, America leads the world on issues of race and civil rights, and there is a national holiday devoted to his honor.
His life and his courage are an inspiration to us all. And a word of caution for dreamers.
So the next time you hear the words, “I have a dream,” remember that often our dreams don’t lead to an idyllic dreamland. They can lead to hard roads and a future that God only knows.
But I believe God honors the heart of a dreamer, when we summon our courage and test our fragile faith by taking the roads others are afraid to travel.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)