“‘You do not test the resources of God till you try the impossible.’ *
Let us give ourselves up to believe for this new thing on the earth. Let us dare to test God’s resources on it. Let us ask Him to kindle in us and keep aflame that passion for the impossible that shall make us delight in it with Him, till the day when we shall see it transformed into a fact.” The Glory of the Impossible.
It was August 28, 1963. The March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King was exhausted by a series of setbacks, imprisonments and disappointments. The demands for the preparation of this unprecedented event were all-consuming. His speech was not a priority. In fact, an aide later reported that Dr. King rested much of that day while his followers prepared his speech. It was a soul-weary Martin who walked those several miles to the Lincoln Memorial, then stood to read the prepared text.
Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel music at that time, had sung just prior to Dr. King’s speech. She must have sensed that something was missing. Recalling a theme that she heard King use earlier, she began to shout, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin, tell ’em about the dream.”
Film records the very moment when Dr. King left his prepared notes to improvise the next section of his speech: “. . . And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream . . . ” Liberated by the vision and energized by the crowd, he was empowered to deliver the impassioned speech that goes down in history as one of America’s great moments – and greatest speeches, “I Have a Dream.”
Lilias, likewise, had a dream. Almost a half a century earlier, she records in her diary the unprecedented advances of the past year: increase in houses and lands as well as staff dedicated to bringing the message of Christ to the face of North Africa. The rapid growth spurred requisite corporate advances in a Home Council (London) and a Field Committee (Algiers) along with an annual 2-day rally before the launch of various programs in stations and posts in an effort to connect workers spread out along the coast and deeper into the desert.
She writes “Before us all dawned, I think a new horizon – of the glory of the task to which God has called us – a glory in its every hardness & in the sense that we are working for the future & its coming day.” (23 October 1911) She concludes with these words from Rudyard Kipling: “We were dreamers dreaming greatly.” She rightly could have added his following lines: “We yearned beyond the sky-line where the strange roads go down,” as she led her fearless Band ever forward in their vision to reach the land with the light and life and love of Jesus.
Dreamers dreaming greatly. Children are great dreamers. They spend much of their lives in a dream world – dreaming with complete abandonment about the future. “What will I be when I grow up?” is a question that fuels their imagination and their play. They dress up accordingly trying out hats, so to speak, of the vocation of the moment – fireman, policeman, mommy, princess, lawyer, teacher, nurse, writer, athlete, gymnast, musician, astronaut – with the liberty to toss off each hat according to whim.
Dreams shape goals as children grow into young adults. Castles-in-the-air come down to earth in the form of concrete plans – education, life-partner, vocation, location – and countless questions related to achieving life ambitions. Dreams raise deeper questions: “Who am I?” What are my gifts?” “What is the best path to achieve my goals?”
Dreams continue to play an important role as we move forward in life. They open possibilities beyond the limits of our here and now. Dreams move us out of our comfort zones. They fuel us to move forward, to make plans, to take risks, to make efforts that take us to places far beyond the ordinary course of our day-to-day living. Dreams have the potential to change the very course of our lives and potentially the lives of others.
Dreamers dreaming greatly. Martin Luther King and Lilias Trotter dreamed great dreams. Dr. King’s dream inspired a movement toward racial rights and freedom that challenged and changed the course of a nation. Lilias’s dreams led a small Band of individuals to plant the seeds for a church in Algeria that is being realized a century later.
What about us? Do we continue to dream? Do we dream big? Are our dreams big enough? God created us for something much bigger than ourselves – bigger than our survival, or safety, or success. He intended us to be a part of His greater purposes for humankind: now and for eternity. C. S. Lewis wrote “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
It couldn’t be clearer: All the good things God has given us were never meant for our own good alone but to equip us for His Purpose of our lives. It is achieved as we live out a life of love in service to Him – through Him – to others. We are meant for something greater than the maintenance of systems: our bodies, our homes, our cars, our vacations, or even our beloved families – as important as they are for basic physical and emotional survival and satisfaction.
The challenge is to bring our dreams into alignment with God’s purpose for our lives. Surely God will reveal those purposes through people and process. Most likely it will involve our natural inclinations, talents and temperaments. It will require a faithful walk with Him as we fulfill the simple tasks and responsibilities that comprise our day-to-day walk. But most of all it demands a whole-hearted desire to make ourselves available for whatever God calls us to do. Obedience in the small things. Dreams for the big things.
Let us never stop dreaming. Dreaming greatly. Lilias dreamed to the end of her life. She dreamed of a future without her presence. Only months before her death, she records in her diary, 26 March 1928, her vision of a zaouria (fraternity house) where colporteurs (book sellers), “. . . European & native, could be trained side by side – that might be in its turn the forerunner of the real zaouria of our dreams, down south where it would be a home!” The plan for that southland zaouria was already drawn up and lodged in a mantlepiece drawer along with three hundred francs for its first sundried bricks!
Dreamers dreaming greatly! Let us ask Him to kindle in us and keep aflame that passion for the impossible that shall make us delight in it with Him, till the day when we shall see it transformed into a fact.”
*F. B. Meyer