I recently, over the span of two days (yesterday and today) listened to a 2-part sermon on “Finding Your Calling” given by Pr. Yang from France, and I was really moved and awed at what he had to say about famous biblical figures, and wanted to share some of it.
What would we think if we saw an old man wandering in a land foreign to him, proclaiming that the land was his? Most likely we’d think he was crazy and senile. A deluded dreamer. But if this was thousands of years ago, we might’ve just met Abraham.
Fast forward a couple generations to Joseph. When he revealed himself to his brothers, his whole family moved to Egypt. He lived to see his great grandchildren. Before he died, he said, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Gen 50:24-25). Years pass and the Israelites are slaves. Decades pass, and the Israelites are still slaves. Centuries pass, and the Israelites are still slaves and all their male infants were being slaughtered. During all these years the people must’ve thought Joseph was surely wrong and didn’t know what he was saying. He was just some crazy dreamer, just like his brothers regarded him when he was a teenager.
Dreamers get ridiculed. They are constantly criticized…until they are proven right. After the Israelites lived in Egypt for 400 years, God indeed visited them. He heard and saw their suffering and bondage, and he raised up Moses to lead them to Canaan. Joseph was right. After 80+ years in the wilderness, under the leadership of Joshua, Israel conquered the Canaanites and settled in the land. Abraham was right.
The saints were dreamers, and because they had dreams they suffered so much. They suffered so much and still didn’t live to see their dreams come to fruition. They suffered ridicule and criticism, even from us. We say “Look! Abraham lied and said Sarah was his sister. Look! He married Hagar. Moses asked God to end his life; he was weak. Elijah was a coward because he fled from Jezebel and asked God to end his life. Peter had such little faith; he sank in the water and even denied Jesus three times.”
We tend to magnify all the mistakes that God’s workers make (Biblical or modern day) and in the process discount all they have suffered through. Isaac? He showed favoritism towards one son over the other. Nevermind that he prayed 20 years for his wife Rebekah to conceive. Moses got so angry that he struck the rock instead of speaking to it (Num 20:12) and because of that, couldn’t enter the promised land. Nevermind that he continually lead the Israelites, the very people who provoked him and Aaron, which resulted in Aaron’s death on Mount Hor (Num 20:22-29). We call Elijah a coward for fleeing from Jezebel, but say nothing of the sort about Paul when he fled cities to avoid being killed. We bash Peter more than the other disciples (except Judas) because he denied Jesus three times, but say nothing about how he was the only one bold enough to step out on the ocean, how he was the only one daring enough to draw his sword to defend Jesus.
How can we be so judgmental? Do we not see just how much agony and burden the saints had to bear? How much have we suffered compared to the saints? How much faith do we have in the promises of God?
Yes, the saints made mistakes and “failed” at some point. Yes, Peter did end up denying Jesus. But they were fearless dreamers. How much have we dared to dream for the church?
Those who do not dream are quick to criticize and scoff at those who do. Those who do less church work (namely myself) and attend fewer services are quick to judge the workers and leaders who do the most.
If we are to carry on the work of the saints and apostles, we need to become dreamers. Some of us may make mistakes, eat our own words, and make fools out of ourselves. Some of us may be ridiculed, persecuted, maybe even martyred. But without dreamers, there is no hope for progress. Because Abraham dreamed and stuck with it, we are a part of the chosen people of God.
Heb 11:13-16 NKJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (14) For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (15) And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. (16) But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
God is not ashamed to be the God of dreamers. Will we be dreamers for God?
For a similar post concerning the growth of True Jesus Church, also inspired by this topic, go here. (Assuming you have facebook :p )