“Dream a dream so big that unless God intervenes it will fail.” – Hudson Taylor
On a warm August morning, the sun rose behind my son’s new school. As the van door slid open, my 5th grader stepped out and flashed his closed-lip smile for a single picture. As he confidently walked toward the building, I remembered two weeks prior when he informed me he was going to school this year (rather than homeschool). His persistent decisiveness (or as it is sometimes lovingly referred to as “Rock brain” in Autism circles) made it nearly impossible for me to say no to something he was willing to try.
Even though this was the first time in 12 years I had been home with no children, I made no appointments, plans, or celebrations. I kept my phone close. Few knew he was starting school. In my mind, there was no way he was going to make it through the first week of school.
Days turned into weeks, months, a semester, and so on. Though every day has not been a winner (and a few days I wondered if we would make it), I have marveled at the doors God has held open that I assumed would close. God is doing more than I ever thought possible. And something about this bothers me….How could God surprise me with His goodness? This against-all-common-sense thing God put in my path requiring full reliance upon Him was a dream – a dream I was afraid to dream.
Jason Hague, author of Aching Joy, recently wrote about connecting in a new way with his mostly non-speaking, Autistic son through text messages and the struggle to downplay it. He said, “The truth is, I feel pretty well prepared for the harder scenarios. I’m ready for a life of minimal communication with my son. We’ve lived this way for a long time, and I promise you, we are plenty happy….My boy is enough for me. Right now. Like this. Today. He is Enough. I’m not afraid of a long, dark road. No, it’s the brightness that haunts me: The porcelain light of promise. Because I have seen how easily hope shatters.”
At some point, to survive this potential perpetual grief, I adjusted my expectations, prepared for what seemed more certain, and guarded against risky dreaming. I stopped letting myself think about how good it might one day be, and what God may desire to do beyond my natural reasoning and abilities. Dreaming, in this sense, may be more like “Divine Ambitions” (dreaming big things for God, believing that He would show Himself undeniably mighty, strong, and powerful).
I stopped dreaming.
Maybe you do not relate to Autism parenting, but you have gone through a tough season or a tragedy making you live life braced for disappointment (and if this grief is fresh, I believe there are seasons to grieve and recover). Perhaps the past two years of COVID have made you pervasively weary. The longer we live this way, the easier it becomes to settle into a relentless addiction to comfort, seclusion, and dulled perception – losing the eyes to see what God may want to do in us and through us to bring Himself glory.
At some point, however, we must walk out of the shadows back into the porcelain light of promise, recalling, “We must not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9) We must hold our hands out and pray the risky prayer, “Whatever you want me to do, Lord, I am yours.”…and marvel at the plans He has to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)
In 1934, the prisons in Bristol, England were filled with thousands of orphans under the age of 8. George Muller pursued a God-sized dream to house orphans and teach them the Bible. Though he loved the orphans, his main objective was to encourage believers to take God at His word, by showing the faithfulness of God to provide as promised in His Word. Muller sought God alone in prayer, and never once petitioned the church members to pay his salary or help support the needs of the orphans. Yet they always had what they needed – because God was faithful. Of Muller, his son-in-law said, “[he] devised large and liberal things for the Lord’s cause.” He dreamed a big dream for God and was never disappointed. Similarly, Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the 1800’s, said, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits [bold or daring feat] for God, there is no need for faith.”
Oh if only we would let our holy imaginations wander through the possibilities of what God might want to do in us, through us, and around us – if we are willing! We need to re-invest in ministries around us, seeking to be less comfortable so we may show the worthiness of Christ in all we do. And, by God’s grace, we need to dream bigger for His glory so the world will have no doubt the outcomes could only come from the hand of God.
This school year has been a rich blessing to my faith. He is truly able to do far more abundantly than I ask or think, according to His power at work within us. I am ready to begin dreaming big dreams for God… again.