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When we were young our dreams were like those of other children of our generation — to get married, raise a happy family, and to do something extraordinary someday.
But through a series of events those dreams took on new character. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be pastoring a church or leading God’s people in any way, for that matter. I realize, today, that my dreams were too small. I realize today that I would wear many hats: wife, mother, grandmother, pastor, professor, friend, and mentor. Wow!
Who would have thought that this little backwoods, country girl would live out her dreams in a big way? Not me. But God has ordained it so that I “dream big,” God have ordained it so that each has big dreams.
Not all dreams are self-sacrificing. There are times when I have had terrible nightmares. No, not all dreams are self-sacrificing. But even with this, God has given each of us the human capacity to fulfill our biggest dreams.
We dream big for ourselves and for our children. We dream big for our loved ones. We dream big. One of the biggest dreams a mother can have for her children is that they grow up to be self-sustaining, self-sufficient, stable adults functioning well in society. We dream that they will someday marry well and raise a family of their own. If we love the Lord, we dream that they will someday love the Lord as much as we do and serve Him faithfully.
Can you remember a time when your dreams came true? Have you lost sight of your dream? Dreams aren’t just the thing that happens to us at night. Dreams occur during the daytime too. Some would call these visions. In this article, we will think about ways to dream during the Lenten season as we repent, renew and restore.
The prophet Jonah, in his pastoral role, encouraged the people of Nineveh to repent, he called for the community to fast and pray. Repentance involves turning from a sinful way of life that goes against the will of Almighty God. The thing that fascinates me most about this prophet is that he recognized that one or two in the community caused the entire community to suffer because of living sinfully. That included the suffering of innocent animals. We see such devastation in countries where there is severe drought: the people are emaciated and so are the animals. But what does this say about us; right here; right now? In plain and simple terms, it means that if we don’t repent of our sins, we can forget about salvation and forgiveness. God’s Word in both the Old and New Testaments tell us that we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. When we come to this knowledge, we approach our God in humility. In other words, we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that it is God who deserves all the praise and all the glory. Next, we move to renewing our dreams and our covenant.
I believe we should renew our baptismal covenant each year. Once we renew our covenant, we open the door to dreaming the kind of dreams that bring God glory. In the United Methodist Church, we have a beautiful liturgy that can easily be adapted onto a small card to remind us of our covenant. Sometimes we forget what being in covenant with God and each other looks like. In our covenant each of us has vowed to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness and reject the powers of evil in the world. In our covenant we have vowed to serve God and participate in the ministries of the United Methodist Church. In our covenant we have vowed to support the church with our time, talent and resources. For some of us, it is time for renewal of this covenant. It’s time for renewal because some of us have lost sight of the dream; we lost sight of the vision for ministry and things seem to have fallen apart – for some of us. Once we have repented and renewed our covenant/dream/vision, then we will see restoration take place.
The same God, who promises free grace in restoring the life of Jonah, in Jonah’s day, is the same God who has worked to offer us salvation/restoration. Each of us has been created in the image of God and to live in fellowship/harmony with one another. It is God’s will that humankind have abundant life, but it is only possible when we are in right relationship with God. And so, repent, renew and restore! Dream big! Much love and peace.
The Rev. Alice Wade Davis is pastor of Community/Stem United Methodist Church.