When we think about this dilapidated building a bit longer, it occurs to us that it may well represent something more. It could signify shattered dreams and dashed hopes.
We can easily imagine a young couple surveying this site in some yesteryear talking about how it is the perfect place for their dream home. We can also imagine this same couple talking about the dreams they have for their future together, along with the exciting possibilities each of their children. Did they imagine themselves teaching their grandchildren how to fish in the pond down by the river out back?
Why did this building fall into this state of disrepair? What caused the residents of this home to abandon their dreams which compelled them to make this house a home? Perhaps they didn’t lose their vision for the future. That is a possibility. Yet, the photograph does suggest the possibility that something happened. Something derailed them. Perhaps some tragedy overwhelmed them, robbing them of their imagined future. What could it have been? Why did was this home abandoned?
In a sense this building represents the disappointments and dashed hopes that most of us have experienced. Some of our dreams were shattered. We’ve known stagnation and frustration in our careers. We’ve experienced trouble in relationships with the people who matter most in our lives. We’ve known the emptiness of hearts grown cold and spirits that have lost their sparkle.
While our curiosity prompts us to wonder just what happened and why it happened, would it not be better to ask whether they were able to overcome? And, if they did, how did they overcome? This seems to be the central issue of our lives. When our dreams are shattered, how do we learn to dream again? How do we shape a positive vision for the future, when our house needs an extreme makeover?
I believe we can learn to dream again. I’m confident that God wants us to do so. I believe the Scriptures point out this positive path forward. While I believe the following verses articulate three steps we can take, I wouldn’t suggest to you that solutions come easy—that there will be no costs, no challenges. Consider Paul’s reflections recorded in Philippians 3:12-14:
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. —NLT
This text seems to suggest that the Apostle Paul’s strategic plan for shaping a positive vision for the future. I would suggest that this is summarized by the following imperatives:
1) Know whose you are— ever forget that is was Christ Jesus who took hold of you! Just as the Apostle says in verse 12: “…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” And this was not after thought or spur of the moment whim. Jesus came to take hold of you in as part God’s eternal purpose. This was His plan before the earth was even formed.
2) Live in the moment— being utterly oblivious of and completely unconcerned about what has occurred in the past, putting it completely out of mind—not crying over spilt milk, nor resting on your laurels—while applying every ounce of your energy to what lies ahead. Just as we read in verse 13, which concludes with, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
3) Know where you are going— Life here on earth is not a giant waiting room where endure the passing of time until we finally get out of here. Just as God had a grand design for saving us from our sins, He has grand plans for the rewarding the faithful in eternity. So, we choose to follow to “…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The positive path forward, the means by which we are able to
shape a positive vision for the future, begins and ends with Jesus.
It involves unwavering resolve to look above and move beyond the futility and failure of the past, living each moment in passionate pursuit of God’s promises for brighter tomorrows. This is the way of Jesus. This is the way of Jesus for our lives. This theme runs through one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. –Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT
We learn to dream again by keeping our eyes on Jesus!
May God help us all to do just this!
© Bill Williams
May 19, 2007