(March 28, 1990)
A certain poor farmer enthusiastically approached a preacher and told him he would like to serve God. The preacher, testing the farmer’s commitment, asked, “Sir, if you had 100 cows, would you give 50 of them to the Lord?”
The farmer said, “Of course I would. I would gladly give 50 cows.”
The preacher went on, “If you had 50 cows, would you give 25?”
The farmer eagerly nodded. “Yes, sir, I would give 25.”
Then the preacher said, “If you had two cows, would you give one?”
At that point, the farmer backed off. “Now that’s not fair. I only have two cows.”
My dreams start out like that sometimes -- big. They look and sound fantastic, even if I can’t pull them off. I don’t have 100 cows either! But this doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t dream big. We have a big God, One who can do the impossible. He made something out of nothing when He created our world and His power is clearly visible in the winds, the seas and the elements He controls.
We also have seen His work in the spiritual realm. He is able to bring even the most vile to their knees, confessing Christ as Lord. He changes lives. He has, through revival preaching and the power of His Spirit, turned the population of entire cities to righteousness. And He can wipe out whole nations who refuse to acknowledge Him. Surely our God is big enough for our biggest dreams. But is He big enough for the little ones?
I have to admit, big dreams are fun, far more fun than small ones. Grand plans can be held out at arm’s length where I can admire my own ingenuity... Imagine that -- I dreamed such a scheme. No pain in that... No perspiration either. Maybe that’s why most of us don’t dream little... it may mean work.
Someone once said, “All great plans eventually deteriorate into hard work.” That hits the farmer, and most of us, right where we live. It is easy to be generous with funds that I don’t have, boast great loyalties that are not challenged, and imagine doing marvelous service in realms not open to me. When I do that, I’m forgetting a Biblical principle from Luke 19. The basic idea is: if anyone is faithful in a small thing, he will be given greater responsibility.
We use that idea in rearing our children. If they prove themselves capable of taking care of a tricycle, we get them a two-wheeler, then a ten speed. In the realm of dreams, even the largest of them must begin somewhere. In fact, a dream is sort of like painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo had to start with one small brush stroke, then another, and another.
However, sometimes my dreams are just ridiculous. When they are, God often leads me to the example of Israel’s King David: “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother... is my soul within me.” My God knows I often need to come down to earth and dream a little more realistically.
However, some dreams could be ideas from heaven. If so, their size brings fear and trepidation, or even laughter. The elephant is too big to eat, our knife and fork much too puny. Should that be the case, the words of Jesus address the need: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
The bottom line for dreamers is this --- check first the heart. Do I need to “wake up,” come off my cloud and get doing what I CAN do? Or is the dream one of those won’t-go-away nudges, a thing that just can’t be put out of mind, even though it seems impossible? If that is what the dream is like, maybe all God is asking is a small beginning.