Changing the World with Our Dreams
by Christopher C. Thompson | 16 December 2021 |
Lately, I have been thinking about a few of my dreams. You’re actually looking at one of them right now: the dream for a book about dreams is about ten years old. Long story. But the fact that you’re reading this is evidence that the book is finished.* Dreams do come true.
Recently, I’ve begun to dream some new dreams. I want to start a farm. I know for many of you it might sound crazy, but I seriously want to start a farm. I want to raise some livestock, horses, and maybe even some chicken and sheep. I started gardening some years ago and those blasted groundhogs kept eating everything I planted. Because of that, I’m a little scarred. But there are still a few things I want to plant.
That’s my first really recent dream: starting a farm. That dream is for me and my family.
Dreaming for the world
Another dream is for the world. I lived in the city for a long time, and one of the things that I found is that there are so many people who don’t have access to quality, affordable housing. There are many reasons for this. One primary reason is because of gentrification. The old houses in the city center are being scooped up by developers and young professionals trying to bank immediate equity. Another reason is there are many unscrupulous landlords and property managers who take advantage of the poor to maximize their profits and lessen their own expenses.
I want to create, renovate, and manage quality, affordable living spaces for people who work hard and are trying to make ends meet. I’m mindful that the quality of a person’s life is largely dictated by their living environment. It’s difficult to live a quality lifestyle in violent and dangerous neighborhoods. It’s hard to do your homework if you’re living in squalor. It may sound unreal, but I’ve seen some housing arrangements in the city that could rival those found in a developing country. I want to be a part of the solution. That dream is for the world. Now watch how dreams work.
I was in my office just a short while ago, when a friend called and said he was in town. He wanted to drop by and say hello. We spent a few minutes catching up and I asked him, “What are you working on these days?” Would you believe he started telling me about his desire to rehabilitate homes? He said he’s just looking for some investors to partner with. My eyes got really wide.
Now there are no sureties here. Maybe we’ll partner. Maybe we won’t. I just greatly appreciate the way that God confirms and aligns our dreams. God promises that if you pursue those dreams, divine providence will open doors and make miracles happen.
I mentioned a couple of my dreams, but there is another dream that I need to mention. I have lived in several cities across the United States, and have spent the better part of the last twenty years giving my all in those cities, but I have always wanted to work toward lasting change in my hometown. So, I decided to leave it all on the court, and in the midst of a global pandemic, I submitted my letter of resignation and quit my full-time job. I packed and loaded up a moving truck and moved back to my hometown because I saw the violence, devastation, gentrification, and overall decline of the community that helped mold me into the man I am today. I wanted to be a part of the solution to help rebuild my city.
I decided not to wait to make moves until I was old and gray with no energy, half my strength, and only my good advice to give. I decided to go to work during the prime of life so that I could give my best years to my city, my neighborhood, and my people. This dream had been brewing for more than ten years, and I realized that I would have to sacrifice something if I wanted to manifest the dream.
It wasn’t a terribly hard decision to make. Serving my city is one of the greatest joys I’ve ever known, much more valuable than a comfortable paycheck and a retirement fund. In the past year or so, we’ve started several initiatives that maybe I’ll write about in the future. But for now, I’m all about serving the students and seniors in my city. This is my joyous privilege. I’m dreaming big for my city, and pursuing that dream each day that I get out of bed. I’m leaving it all on the court.
A strange way to save the world
During the Christmas season we’re reminded of the birth of Christ and God’s plan of salvation that comes to us through that little baby in a manger. Over the last few days, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit about the counterintuitive (and seemingly ludicrous) measure that is the incarnation of Christ. A songwriter years ago penned the words:
And Joseph said
Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade
Why Him with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl
Now I’m not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the World
But you know what I love about the incarnation? Despite the prophecies and promises, despite the proclamations of prophets and hundreds of years of the written record recalling the great will of the Almighty God…No one saw this coming. Yes, there were a few like Anna, the prophetess awaiting the birth of our Lord while working quietly in the temple. There were also the Magi who traveled from the east when they noticed a brilliant disruption in the celestial order. There were some, but for the most part, no one saw this coming.
God chooses to suddenly change the game, switch up the strategy and bet the farm by wagering the very heritage of heaven in his only begotten Son. This is indeed such a strange way to save the world, but I like it. It’s gutsy…and it just…might…work! When Mary laid baby Jesus in the feeding trough, it was apparent that heaven was going for the win and leaving it all on the court.
We need this type of imagination right now. Our old strategies are not working. Our systems are broken. Our models are defective. Our justice system throws us a bone every now and then, yet perpetually reminds us that justice is much better understood as “Just Us” (and “us” meaning exclusively those who are the right skin color and the right social status). The economy continues to transfer more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands. I was reminded today that our education system was not designed to prioritize the needs of minority students. And if all of that were not enough, our inefficiency and inadequacies have been laid bare by a pandemic that left millions of the most vulnerable people dead globally.
We need incarnational leaders who are culturally responsive doing work that is culturally relevant and socially engaged. We need leaders who are intellectually prepared, emotionally aware and spiritually attuned. We need leaders who are equipped with the unique skills that are gauged to engage with the multifaceted misadventures in the public and private sectors.
We need new strategies. We need dreamers to rise up who’ve envisioned a church that courageously embodies bold solutions to complex problems. We need new church and community organizations that are advocating for and organizing on behalf of the most vulnerable groups. We need new visions, ideas, initiatives and dreams
Here’s a little secret: Throughout all of antiquity, when God gave someone a dream it was usually in preparation for a crisis that was looming. Daniel, Moses, John the Revelator, Joseph, and all the rest remind us that God gives dreams because a storm is coming.
Well, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the storm is here, and it is raging. So where are the dreamers?
*Adapted from Christopher Thompson’s latest release, Choose to Dream.
Christopher C. Thompson writes about culture and communication at thinkinwrite.com. He’s the author of several books and an adjunct professor at Oakwood University in Alabama. When not writing, he’s jogging or binge-watching Designated Survivor. He’s married to Tracy, who teaches at Oakwood University.