I don’t usually wake up laughing, but that morning I did. Head pressed deeply into the dense pillow, I awoke to my own laughter. The room was cold, which had caused me to sleep more deeply than usual. My legs were numb, but I was warm all over, except for my nose. A single beam of dusty light revealed an unfamiliar room of placard signs, mass-produced art and sterile chairs. Hotel room curtains never fully close, do they? A strip between the two panels allowed that beam of light to poke me in my sleepy head. I had slept so deeply that my first thought in that refrigerated state was, Who am I, and how did I get here?
I wanted to disappear under the thick comforter, to roll my head between the three pillows and just dream. But I had laughed myself awake. I have no idea what I dreamt of that caused such morning hilarity, but as I flopped over, sitting next to me—also laughing—was my new bride. We had been married just three days.
“What were you dreaming of?” she asked, snickering. “I watched you toss and giggle for ten minutes before you woke up.”
“I wish I could remember,” I said with a laugh. Though the details of the dream were lost, I knew I had tasted another world. The dream had trailed off as light hit my head, and it was gone. Nothing left now but bad breath, a lined face and a deep sense of rest and peace. Though the dream had vanished, I lay there in the bed on my honeymoon with contentment and joy.
I wish I could have held that moment forever. It was a moment between two dreams—one an unconscious dream of peace and joy, and the other a waking dream of marriage with my new wife, Jodi, where everything was new and exciting.
What is it about a dream that beckons us, ever entangling us in its web of hope and longing? The elusive dream of our hearts fades out of reach each morning. With each sunrise, with each knock on the door, we awake with a realization that real life awaits us. But we long to go back, to pull the covers over our faces, to tuck our heads between the pillows and just dream.
Though the elusive dream of our hearts fades, we search for it because we’ve tasted it in small doses over and over again. In the breathtaking beauty of a sunset, the oblivious, innocent laughter of a child, through forgiveness and kindness, in expressions of love and selflessness, we’ve tasted a world we were meant for and want more of. Our soul remembers the aftertaste of a world we were destined for, because we have tasted it in small measure our whole lives. The taste is unmistakable. We know this taste of the world more viscerally than anything else, because it is at the core of what it means to be human. The dream is a foretaste of another world, a better world, a world where things are the way they’re supposed to be.
We are dreamers, every one of us. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” described a dream where the world would one day live as one. The dream Lennon sang of—though many would disagree with him—is a reflection of this other world, a world where greed, possessions, hunger, violence, nationalistic and religious beliefs no longer drown out love, companionship and peace. Lennon’s dream was very close to the dream of God, though Lennon himself would likely dismiss this. The amazing thing about the dreams of some of the people furthest from God is that their desire for a better world mirrors the ultimate dream of God to make all things new. We are dreamers because God is a dreamer.
Though we are often not able to articulate it fully, what we dream of is the same dream that God has dreamt since time began. The dream of God is at the heart of our dreams. We can know a great deal about our dreaming God by looking at our own dreams and the dreams of humanity throughout the world.
Dreams are powerful, but because the world is not the way it’s supposed to be, our dreams are often twisted—mere shadows of what they once were. Dreams can become misguided—expressions of exploitative power, excessive material acquisition, sensual indulgence. There’s no limit to how badly dreams can run amuck. Dreams can become nightmares, ruling and eventually ruining our lives. The longing to escape the struggles and disappointments of this world often tempt us to escape “reality” artificially. Drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, pornography—anything to escape and “just be.” To be alone with ourselves, at peace with our mind, free from worry and pain—we just want to dream.
The longing to be transported from where we are to where we were meant to be is also powerful. Most people will risk everything they have and all that they are to reach for a dream. Some people do this in ways that are healthy and life giving, but most people settle for the easy substitute. We settle for a cheap version of the dream in a one-night stand, in dancing erotic pixels in dark rooms. We want a quick fix, and we find it at the baked-goods section at the grocery store, the bottom of a bottle or the pulsating floor of a dance club. We often pursue a dream in selfish and destructive ways, ways that are incompatible with God’s dream.
We long to go to that other world that lingers in our hearts. We are called to it in small ways each day. For me, it is the small “magical moments” of life that call me back, the little things that pull at my heart: a wispy meadow in late August, the sound of cicadas buzzing in the trees, the smell of dense, warm air before a storm. All of a sudden, my mind wanders away from my son’s orthodontics bill, the fight I’m having with my wife, Jodi, or the diaper that needs to be changed. Another world pokes in as I smell bacon in the morning or catch a glimpse of a hummingbird hovering over the lilies outside my office window. We live in a world where “real” is limited to what we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste. But these are hints of a world more real than what all our senses can tell us. Our dreams point us to another world.
The world we live in is caught between two worlds—a dream and a nightmare. But the good news is that the dream of God will come to pass and is coming to pass all around us. It will one day replace the nightmare of this world. In many ways, God’s dream is already breaking in. Every time a well is dug for a community, food is provided for the hungry, nets protect those at risk of mosquito-borne malaria or those who traffic in the flesh of prostitutes are brought to justice, the nightmare ends and the dream begins.
When we join God in bringing his dream to the world around us, we are fulfilling his plan and purpose for our lives. Joining in God’s dream is the most significant thing we could ever do. It is what we were created for. God’s plan for us begins and flourishes as we allow our dreams to merge into the great dream of God.
R. York Moore is a passionate and visionary leader. York deeply values spiritual formation, relational intelligence, innovation, and collaboration. An effective communicator and orator, York casts vision and leads change through his communication skills on-line, in publications, and with live audiences. York has traveled the world, working with organizational leaders and academic institutions in their context to mobilize constituents to more effectively engage their mission. He has led change organizationally in large not-for-profit organizations and in the local church. York is a published author and blogger in magazines like Outreach, Preaching Today, and EMQ . He also is a Cabinet member for Luis Palau’s ‘Next Generation Alliance‘ and is a Compassion International speaker. York holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Michigan and an MA in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. R. York Moore lives in Canton, MI with his wife and three kids.
Taken from Making All Things New by R. York Moore. Copyright (c) 2012 by R. York Moore. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com