“I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen,
Silent prayers get answered,
Broken hearts become brand new:
That’s what faith can do.”
(What Faith Can Do, Kutless)
Dreams recur frequently in the Bible. From Joseph’s dreams of sheaves of grain bowing down to his sheaf, through to Daniel’s interpretations of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Joel’s prophecy that ‘your old men will dream dreams’, dreams have been seen as a way that God communicates with people.
Dreams are not always a ‘series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep’, but are sometimes used figuratively to mean ‘aspirations’ or ‘a wild fancy or hope.’
The dream to own St Mark’s could well be said to fit that latter definition. It seemed, for more years than we care to remember, a ‘wild fancy’. Perhaps dreams, by their very nature, are open to ridicule and scorn, to doubt and confusion. Joseph’s brothers certainly didn’t like his dream and ‘hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.’ (Gen 37:8) There must have been times as Joseph was carted off as a slave to Egypt, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten in jail, when he wondered if the dream could ever come true.
Dreams that come from God will always bear fruit, but there is nonetheless an uncomfortable principle that life only comes through death: “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24) We go through dark times and it seems as though the dream is dead. Maybe it is. But we have a God who specialises in resurrection.
Joseph eventually saw the dream come true. He became an influential man in Egypt, in charge of distributing food. His brothers had to bow down before him to gain the food they needed so as not to starve. And Joseph realised a fundamental truth we would do well also to grasp, namely that God is capable of working all things together for good: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50:20)
When the dream is in the languishing state and nothing seems to be happening, what do we do? We rest in God’s ability to fulfil His promises and wait. Waiting is not easy; it’s ‘the most bitter lesson a believing heart has to learn’ (Michael Card). But God’s promises are true and He is more than capable of sorting out the impossible, answering silent prayers and working things out behind the scenes in ways that leave us awestruck.
As we move into the new building and shake our heads in wonder, let’s be aware that God has more dreams to birth in our hearts than we can perhaps imagine and let’s look back on all He has done to sustain us through those periods when the dreams die.