Thursday, October 30, 2003

Follow your Dreams

“For a dream comes with much business and painful effort….”
~ Ecclesiastes 5:3 (Amplified)

Climb every mountain
Forge every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream
~ The Sound of Music

I guess you could say that I’m a dreamer – but that’s only because I believe dreams really do come true. My dream is to write a book. There. I said it. But I’ll go into that more in a future article.

Before Keen and I got married, we attended some pre-marriage counseling classes through the church. After we filled out several questionnaires, they analyzed our answers and concluded that we were very compatible. (Whew!) They did find one area of concern, however. They said that we seemed to look at life through “rosy-colored glasses.” Later we joked, “Well, they sure beat those dark green ones!” Come to think of it, those rosy-colored glasses have helped us through some pretty bleak moments in our life.

When Abraham told his wife that God spoke to him and said that she would bear a son in her old age, Sarah laughed. “And the Lord asked Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I really bear a child, when I am so old?” (Gen. 18:13) When Joseph told his brothers about his dream that depicted them bowing down to him one day, they mocked him. “Behold, the dreamer cometh!” they chanted. (Gen. 37:19) Martin Luther King had a dream – one that seemed very far from reality at the time. But all of these dreams eventually came true. So I say, let ‘em laugh!

Recently I read a book by Mark Rutland simply titled, Dream. He writes, “Remember this: No one will ever be as excited about your dream as you are. Oh, encouragers may come. Pray so. Some may even be helpful, generous, magnificently generous, but they can never feel what you feel. No one can ever know the inner exhilaration, the surge of spiritual energy, the utter delight in your soul, for it is, after all, your dream and your soul.”

The author also shared a story about when he was in the 5th grade at a new school and how once a month his teacher would have a “dream day” when each child in the class was asked to share their personal dreams. It could be anything, but they had to say something. And if anyone laughed at another person’s dream, they would have to leave the room. One by one the students shared their dreams for their future. “An astronaut,” one said. “A movie star,” said another. Each time a student shared their dream, the teacher would offer words of encouragement. She talked about how one day she just knew she would hear about them on the news or see their name in lights. She talked about how proud she would be to be able to say that she was their teacher. When Mark Rutland’s turn came around, from somewhere deep inside he heard himself say, “I want to write books.” He was only 10 years old at the time, but his heart already knew that he was born to write. (By the way, he just completed his ninth book.)

We must dare to dream, as the saying goes. But it’s not enough just to dream – we have to take steps toward making our dream a reality. The dream is only the beginning – the very first step. Then the real work begins. We have to be determined not to let anyone or anything stand in our way.

My husband spent nearly 18 years on the back end of a trash truck. But he had a dream that one day he could go back to college to earn his law degree. During the time he was a trash man, he worked diligently to provide his customers with the best possible service. But his frequent prayer was that one day God would allow him to “…use his mind, instead of his back.”

In the fall of 1998, Keen was a guest on The Jim Cates show. Jim asked Keen if he ever considered going to law school. His response was: “Actually, Jim, it’s been a personal dream of mine. But I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to do it. I have great admiration for those who do, though.” Little did he know that just a few months later we would get the opportunity to sell our trash company, making it possible for him to enroll at K-State for the spring semester. Yes, by the grace of God, that dream is becoming a reality – but not without “much business and painful effort.”

In his book titled, Simple Truths, author Kent Nerburn devotes a chapter to the subject of work. Nerburn encourages the reader to think of work as a vocation, which comes from the Latin word for calling – something that calls to you, that gives voice to who you are and what you want to say to the world. He further states that we should really consider the job we do and see if it is how we want to spend our time. “If it is not,” he writes, “your job will become your prison rather than the vehicle of your dreams. And a person without dreams is only half alive.”

Nerburn goes on to say, “There is no reason why a person can’t abandon a job that does not fit and strike out into the unknown for something that lies closer to the heart….No amount of security is worth the suffering of a life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.” He then shares a story about one of his professors who had a dream of becoming a concert pianist. But due to a fear of failure, he never realized his dream. Instead, he chose a career in academics where the work was secure and the money predictable. “Do what is in your heart,” the professor told Nerburn. “I really wanted to be a concert pianist. Now I spend every day wondering how good I might have been.”

Nerburn closes the chapter with these words of advice: “Find what it is that burns in your heart and do it. Choose a vocation, not a job, and your life will have meaning and your days will have peace.”

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

~ Mark Twain