The MOVIE TRAILER opens on a bustling Hollywood avenue with a big, booming voice in the background:
Welcome to Hollywood!! Everybody comes to Hollywood got a dream! What’s your dream?
What if your dream today isn’t the biggest and best dream you could have? What if I could get you to dream for more?
The Hollywood spin is an example of the shortsighted dream we usually start with… the overhyped, self-serving pipe dream—the empty, image-seeking kind that ends in a dumpster in a dark alley.
But we caught the bug, didn’t we? It had us searching in the wrong places for what we thought would crank our truck: comfort, bling, gated communities and white picket fences. Jesus has a warning for people like us:
“Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:20-21, ESV)
My grandfather’s life was part of what nudged me to reach higher. I grew up listening to stories about his “Reo Joe” days and strikes like the Lansing Labor Holiday.
His name was Lester Washburn; Nevah was my grandmother. Their names appear above on this registered historical site in Lansing, MI.
It was a pioneering time. It was a turbulent confluence of ideologies and conflicts of interest. The author of “Reo Joe” describes it well.
Grandpa was less than impressed with the Communist rhetoric. He viewed the Socialists’ agenda as manipulative and unnecessary. Toward the end of his 11 year tenure (1943-54), he tried to pull the charters of a few New York chapters because of their mob connections. His executive board refused to back him.
He was all about fairness for the working man… safe working conditions and decent wages.… even autonomy, I think, for the local unions to negotiate with the companies employing them. He was out there for something bigger than himself. Grandpa—the Reo Joe—was the polar opposite of the many “Safety Joe”s I’ve known.
But I was still sheltered… “Clueless in Wisconsin” became “Naive in Utah”. The rapidly evolving late 60’s California scene was a day’s drive from school. It was the “what-if” season that overran my university studies. When we start questioning, there’s not an easy stopping place. Even so, we should all step back at some point and question who we really are and come up with our own answers.
Back then, we called it a crisis of identity. Few today seem to come to a breaking point in order to seek for themselves. Status quo is the default god: Fear of stepping out into the unknown or fear of breaking with tradition freezes most of us in our tracks.
But what if…?
What if there is no God? What if nothing’s real? What if there is nothing—or something worse than nothing—after death? Is my existence today part of some dark, cosmic joke? Is there anything anywhere worth living for? Unsurprisingly, this led to a state of frustration and despair. It left me drained… empty.
It was ok to question and dream. I was just looking in the wrong direction… and for the wrong reason. I was looking within myself.
Still, I couldn’t stop thinking that somehow there had to be a point to it all. I love to listen to other people talk about what changed after they came to Christ. In my case, I caught myself saying: “Yes! There is something worth living—and dying—for!”
The dream hadn’t died, but it did end up radically altered. Conversion to Christ changed me. From looking inward, I was drawn…
…to look up. Everything I needed could be found in Jesus Christ.
“…you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
…and to look out. Other people besides me needed him, too.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, ESV)
Here were the makings of bigger dreams. The Lord and Master of the universe rescues us. Now we get to be a part of his plan to rescue others. I thought every Christian would want to be like the Apostle Paul. He “…was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” (Acts 26:19, ESV)
The dream was bigger, but still blurry. I said “yes” to giving my life for the cause without knowing what it would entail. In previous posts, I’ve tried to fill in some of the blanks between coming to Christ and going to Latin America.
The ultimate dream
Paul’s vision was truly the heavenly vision: Carry the news of the crucified and resurrected Son of God to places where he is not known. Watch people embrace Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior. Encourage believers to function together to advance the cause. Zero to autonomous—then repeat.
It’s the ultimate dream because it’s the one that matters for eternity.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide,…” (John 15:16, ESV)
What does abiding fruit look like?
A lost sheep rescued.
A wayward wanderer returned.
A Jesus follower persevering.
A pioneer risking and trusting.
Recently, a dear friend shared how years ago the Lord had rearranged his dream. As he mapped out his plans to make money, marry, have children, buy a house and a boat, he got stuck on one question: 100 years from now, what difference will it make? The outcome has been a life as a pioneer missionary and a faithful, loving pastor.
What’s your dream?
What if you gave your heart and soul to the frontline work of God’s kingdom? Where would you end up?
You might end up like me—at least I hope you do…! My life was about pioneering something new in a faraway place… ground zero… starting from scratch. I can’t think of anything more difficult. Neither can I think of anything more rewarding… in this life or the next!
You would definitely end up like the Psalmist: all joy, praise, gratitude, humility… and satisfied… OH, SO SATISFIED!
“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” (Psalms 17:15, ESV)
Welcome to the Kingdom!! Everybody comes to the Kingdom got a dream! What’s your dream?
What a beautiful testimony of what God has done in your life, Greg! And what a great encouragement to keep focused on God's purposes! Thank you!