If a boy dreams of being placekicker for the Packers, then he is a boy. If a man dreams of kicking for the Packers at fifty, then he is delusional. Talk to enough college students and one thing they fear is someone “stealing their dreams,” but in many cases they do not have dreams they have delusions.
I should know, as I have had more than a few of my own!
A good education should replace delusions with dreams and replace fantasy with goals. A man or woman should be bold, but in a cause worth the risk.
Sometimes pop culture does not distinguish between toxic desires and good goals. If a man lives his whole life with the goal of making a million dollars, he is wicked and should wish that someone would steal his fantasy that money is his ticket to happiness. A human life is a sacred thing and living it well requires an object fit for the magnitude of the gift. If I take God’s gift of a human life and set as my highest ambition “going to college” or “playing for the Packers,” then my dreams are not too great for my gifts, but too small for my blessing.
Human life is so awesome, so great, that no merely earthly accomplishment is enough. My own “dream” was a “grand passion,” finding a soul mate, but this “dream” is (and was!) toxic, because no human being could fill the desire that lurked behind the fantasy. My God-given desire for absolute romance was channeled badly, even sinfully, to bad goals.
Let’s call this type of “dream” a “fantasy” to distinguish it from noble desires matched to appropriate ends. When a man wishes to love his wife as Christ loved the church, his desire is tied to the right goal. Not only is the goal the right one for the desire, but any man can achieve it. Not every person has the skill or opportunity to kick for the Packers, but any person created in God’s image can become a saint.
Anne of Green Gables once puzzled over whether one should desire great beauty, cleverness, or goodness. She dismissed goodness too quickly as unachievable. In fact, goodness is the quality we are least likely to possess in fulness at the start of our life, but the one that God is eager to give us. No prayer for holiness has ever gone unanswered since the foundation of the world.
If I confused my “desire” with the goals that come with them, then in a broken world I might never become holy. Great saints who have left written records of their growth see more of their sin, not less, as their goodness grows. Just as a tiny scratch on a new car looms large in our vision compared to a scratch on a junker, so our “small” sins are seen in their full magnitude as the reclamation process for our souls proceeds.
Jesus taught His friends that they should always pray not to be “led into temptation,” but delivered “from the evil one.” Evidently nobody can pray away the possibility of temptation, but anybody can be delivered from evil.
Joyfully God does not want to excise our fantasies to live us with “reality,” if by reality we mean a world of no hope or possibility. Instead, God wants to replace what cannot be or cannot satisfy with what can be and what will make us joyful. God wants us to dream properly and that will mean dreams that are simply huge.
We should want God and if you believe you can dream bigger than God, you are deluded. We have eternity in our hearts and must not be satisfied with seventy happy years. There are dreams and then there fantasies and in an old man dreams are good, but fantasies devilish. A fantasy bids me long for the life I did not live or should not have lived, escaping from my sore shoulder and this mundane meeting where I sit with visions that are small, boorish, or impossible.
Instead, God wants to show this man or woman across from me as a soul created in His image. He wants me to hear the music of the spheres, instead of repeating the music of the Summer of 86. He wants me to love my neighbor, not just love a particular person.
God steal my fantasy and give me dreams . . . attainable, immortal, and awesome dreams.