Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tell them about the dream

Just about everybody has heard of Martin Luther King Jr's 'I have a dream speech'. But not everyone knows that, if it wasn't for Mahalia Jackson saying 'Tell them about the dream, Martin', the most famous parts of that speech may never have happened. While Martin Luther King Jr's speech is known - and rightly so - as one of the greatest speeches of the 20th Century, sometimes it is Mahalia's Jackson's words that I continue to dwell on.

'Tell them about the dream, Martin.'

So often our dreams are silenced - either by ourselves or by others. We share our dreams with nobody, convinced that nobody wants to hear them and frightened that if they did they'd laugh. Or we do tell someone and they do laugh. They tell us our dream is impractical, unrealistic, idealistic or just plain stupid. The greater the dream, often, the greater the ridicule.

Sometimes a dream is silenced so well that it stops having a voice even inside our own minds. And a dream that isn't speaking to anyone ceases to be a dream at all.

Does it matter? Maybe our dreams are impractical, unrealistic and idealistic. Maybe we're better off forgetting about them.

But it's the impractical, unrealistic and idealistic dreams we have to listen to. It's the impractical, unrealistic and idealistic dreams that have the power to change the world.

When you listen to Martin Luther King Jr's 'I have a dream' speech, it's obvious that he dreamed big. His dream wasn't something he realistically expected to happen in his lifetime. He didn't have a step-by-step process of how to get there. It was 'I have a dream' not I have an achievable goal'. But he still dreamed - and still he told others of his dream. And while not all of his dream has come to fruition even now, I think it's fair to say that his dream helped change the world.

Jesus spoke a lot about the Kingdom of God. And for the people listening to him, it must have seemed at times like an impractical, unrealistic, idealistic dream.

And maybe it was a dream. But if it was a dream, then it was God's dream. And it continues to be God's dream. And God doesn't dream achievable goals. God dreams big.

And I'm glad he does. Who wants to follow a God that has a plan for the world that doesn't aim too high? What's the point of hoping for the Kingdom of God, if it just involves hoping for things that we can realistically expect to see?

We have a big God and he has big plans. Plans that seem not only impractical, unrealistic and idealistic - but plans that often seem impossible. But because it's God, the impractical, the unrealistic, the idealistic dream he has is not just going to happen, but it's happening now.

And as Christians we are invited to enter into that dream - to imagine it with God and to participate in the ways it is already coming true.

And maybe our impractical, unrealistic and idealistic dreams are actually pointing us towards God's dream. Maybe the reason they seem so unachievable is because they're part of God's dream - and God dreams big.

So maybe it's time we stopped silencing our dreams. Maybe it's time we gave our dreams a voice. So if you do have a dream, don't hide it away, tell them about it! Because in listening to our dreams, we may just be listening to God.

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