Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dream Big...But We Don't

It was the title of Oprah's new book last December. It was the underlying message in the cryptic "If you build it, he will come" line from the 1989 blockbuster Field of Dreams. It was the impetus for the westward expansion across the plains of America to California. It is at the root of many an immigrant's journey to a new life in America.

Dream big.

Bigger than you can imagine. Bigger than your parents and grandparents dreamed. Bigger than seems possible to dream in your present circumstances.

Dreaming, goal-setting--they seem to be synonymous with simply being human.

In my former life, I served as a TRIO Coordinator, a position that required me to mentor low-income, minority, first-generation college freshmen, helping them find and stay on the straight path to a college degree and, supposedly, a "better" life.

One of the first lessons I "taught" my flock was how to set goals--immediate short-term goals and long-term goals (5+ years down the road). When faced with this assignment, most of the students very quickly wrote down their list of long-term goals, some needing more lines than were allotted on the page.

One thing I learned from the exercise is that no one needs to be taught how to dream big.

The human soul knows it was made for something more than its present circumstances. And so it reaches out, trying to fill that void with one big dream after another.

This past week, Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience returned from a trip to Guatemala where she visited the little girl her family sponsors through Compassion, a Christian organization at work spreading Jesus' gospel and love along with fighting against poverty in 26 countries around the globe.

While there, she visited the Guatemala city garbage dump and met the families, the children whose tin-walled houses line the streets in the midst of the dump. You can read her story here, see the pictures of each child's face, feel the extreme, rotting poverty with her every step through the garbage heaps.

But the part that brought me to tears, that broke me and hasn't left my mind or heart this entire week was when she asked a father if he had dreams for his children. His reply wasn't what I expected. Not dreams for his children to leave the dump or to go on to an easier life elsewhere. No.

Instead, he merely said, "It doesn’t matter to us what our children grow up to become or do....All that matters is that they follow the Lord, that they live only for the Lord."

We have it ALL WRONG.

We only think we're dreaming big. I only think I'm dreaming big.

My dreams have been for my children to be intelligent, to be obedient and kind, to be loving, to be well educated, to find good jobs, to find Christian spouses.

These goals and dreams? They're so small as to be completely insignificant in light of eternity.

But for my children to come to know and love Jesus as their personal Savior? To live only for Him? To make their life's goal, their life's mission to serve Him with all their heart?

That would take an impossible miracle that only God can work in the depths of their souls.

I've been thinking of my children learning to love Jesus as just one prayer, one "dream" I have for them in a whole long list. But I've been wrong.

I only need the one dream, one prayer for them. And everything else will come together in God's hands and timing.


  1. Awwww, I would LOVE to visit my Compassion kids. I'm heading over to Ann's next.

    What a wise father! My children are nowhere near the place where his are...but we share the same prayer. I pray everyday that my children would know God intimately, and serve Him. I have yet to see the manifestation of that, but that's what faith is for!

    I LOVE that picture on this post. Is that the cover of Oprah's book?

  2. No, not the cover of Oprah's book. A stylized image of "Field of Dreams," not something I did either. We should all share that same prayer. Thanks for visiting, Deb. I know you've been quite busy!