When Dreams Are Bigger than Our Memories
Memories are an important part of life. When we look back and share memories, our conversations usually begin with, “Remember when…” When I get together with my two brothers we love to reminisce for hours about our childhood exploits; the fun we had, the games we played, the friends we made, and the trouble we caused. They were great times in a great home in a great environment. So many times we wish we could go back and relive some of those moments, even just for a day.
As we grew older we began to look in a different direction. We started to dream of what we wanted to be when we grew up (some people wonder if we ever did). We started making choices that would forge our future. Some choices were better than others, but even in our failures we learned valuable life lessons. Some of those choices made life much easier, some made life much more difficult; some were made on the spur of the moment, others required a great deal of thought and prayer. Through it all, our dreams have always been bigger than our memories.
Families today are strengthened when their dreams are bigger than their memories. They look forward to what lies ahead and not to what is behind. They see things as they can and should be and make the necessary, intentional choices to be all they can be, all that God wants them to be. They have a picture of brighter future because they are not tied to their past.
This is exactly what it is like to be a Christian. In Ephesians 2 Paul takes his readers down memory lane and reminds them of who and what they were before being raised up and seated with Christ. They were dead in their trespasses and sin (1), walking in disobedience (2), uncircumcised Gentiles, separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (11-12). Their memory of such a deplorable condition makes their appreciation for God’s love and mercy (4) so much stronger. This provides the motivation to engage in the ministry of making known the manifold wisdom of God (3:10-11).
In Philippians 3 Paul reflects upon his own manner of life in times past and expresses his dream of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He chooses to forget what worked in the past in favor of the surpassing value of knowing Christ. His dreams, now bigger than his memories, propel him to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. It gave him his “one thing I do” attitude.
A godly family with bigger dreams thinks about ways they can serve together for the cause of Christ. It may be hosting a prayer and study group in their home. It may be volunteering to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the local hospital. It may be tutoring children in their school work. It may be praying together for those who are hurting, struggling, and straggling. It may be organizing a meal to serve to the homeless. The possibilities are endless, but those with bigger dreams are thinking beyond themselves and outside of the box.
This is the key for meaningful ministry in the church. A church that is living in its memories never dreams of a more fruitful future. A church tied to its traditions will never realize spiritual transformation. It will never accept or adapt to new thoughts, ideas, methods, or technologies. It is fearful of leaving what has become familiar and comfortable in favor of what is relevant in a new generation. Consequently, a church with this mentality is content to die in the wilderness without realizing their potential to impact their world for Christ. A church with bigger dreams sees things they way they can and should be and will make intentional choices to be all God calls her to be.
The Israelites faced this dilemma as they were being delivered from Egypt. Their fear of the unknown future caused them to place too great a value on their memories of life in Egypt. They began complaining about all the changes brought on by Moses and their uncertainty about where they were going. It seems as though they perceived their final destination to be the wilderness (cf. Exodus 14:11). Ultimately there was a failure of the people to see all that God was doing to take them where He wanted them to be. There was a failure to trust and follow Moses as he was trusting and following God. These were new days for God’s people filled with new opportunities and new blessings. Because their memories were bigger than their dreams, that generation was not able to enjoy the Promised Land. Instead, they endured forty years of misery and murmuring.
When families and churches focus on the promises of God we are not only able to reminisce with a proper perspective, we are able to dream of a blessed future. We are able to faithfully forge ahead into unfamiliar territory with the confidence that God is leading. As a church (and family) matures they begin to make intentional choices that focus on the future. Some choices will make us scratch our heads, but even in our failures we will learn valuable lessons. Some choices will make ministry easier, while some will make it more challenging and demanding. Our goal, however, is always to be more faithful and more fruitful.
Let’s choose to dream bigger than even our greatest memories!
- When prayer is the most powerful force in our families and ministry!
- When hearts are so broken for the lost that we cannot stop speaking about Christ!
- When priority is given to transformation through knowing and using God’s word!
- When our comfort is eclipsed by our desire to reach the next generation for Christ!
- When we are so powerfully present in our community people know us by name!
- When we are giving our all and expecting nothing in return!
- When we come together anticipating what God will do next!
- When nothing else matters than being a REAL church for real people!
For further reflection: Nehemiah 4:14; Psalm 25:7; Revelation 2:5