“And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18; quoted from Joel 2:28-29).
I realize that the prophecy of Joel quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost has reference to miraculous revelations in which God made his will known to people by means of dreams or visions. There are in the scriptures numerous examples of God communicating with people by means of such dreams and visions. These means of communication do not employ sentences composed of words.The truth God intended for men to receive was embodied in signs and symbols – pictures “seen” in the mind. The ones who received the visions or someone enabled by God interpreted what they saw so the message thus conveyed could be obeyed by taking whatever action or making whatever preparation was necessary.
Joseph was one individual to whom God on several different occasions made himself known. He was also an interpreter of dreams. Dreams and visions sometimes had to be acted upon. When the Pharaoh of Egypt had a dream about seven years of famine coming upon the world, Joseph interpretation of the dream resulted in him being put in charge of preparations to enable Egypt to endure the famine.
Daniel was another to whom God revealed himself by dreams. During the lifetimes of both Joseph and Daniel, the rulers of Egypt and Babylon respectively had dreams or visions from God which these men of God interpreted.
Peter was one in the New Testament to whom God revealed himself in a vision – a vision which convinced him of the necessity of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia calling him to come and help the people there.
I believe in dreams. I believe we have need of more dreamers and more visionaries. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I believe God speaks to people through dreams and visions today as he did Joseph, Daniel or Samuel, let me disabuse your mind of any such thought. That is not what I am talking about here. What I am going to talk about is the willingness on the part of people to use their imagination to think outside traditional ways of doing things and then using their initiative to explore and implement efforts to do all the good they can do in non-traditional ways. If there is anything divinely given it is the kind of thing Paul speaks of in Romans 12:6-8 – the gifts given for the benefit of the “body” of which we are all a part. We don’t have to have a miraculous event to persuade us to do works of service for others. Sometimes all we need is a bit of imagination and a good bit of initiative.
“What if?” “I wonder?” Could we?” “Would it be possible?” Every invention begins with the inventor’s idea – his dream or vision or question of what may be possible. Great humanitarian endeavors begin with someone pondering, asking, dreaming “What if we were to try so and so?”
I recently caught the very tail end of a TV program on a voluntary medical service where doctors went into places of great need and offered their expertise at no cost to the people they helped. The organization may have been “Doctors Without Borders” or “Project Hope” or something similar to these fine programs. These and other organizations began as an idea – a dream – a vision – in the minds and hearts of people who desired to do greater good than they were doing in their professions – something for the benefit of humanity instead of just for the monetary reward they may gain for themselves. They were willing to work and sacrifice to inaugurate their projects and then to carry them forward to accomplish the goals they had set for their organization.
I thought to myself, “What if every Christian in the world were to engage is something similar to that? What a difference it would make in this world!” But then, isn’t that what the Lord intended for us as his people? Didn’t he intend that we be a blessing to the world? Sometimes to do that we will have to have the “vision” to see the possibilities and the courage to take the initiative to see that the job is done.
It wouldn’t be necessary to organize and fund large organizations. Just everyone doing what they could where they are or where they are able to exert some influence would make a tremendous difference in our lives and in the lives we would be able to touch.
What would it take for Christians to do something like this? What would it take for us to get out of our padded pews and into the public and/or private places where the needs are?
First, don’t be afraid to dream. If you have a dream, do something about it! We should be assured that whatever we do out of love for God and for our fellow man is the right thing to do. Certainly if there is something we could do we should do that. To do nothing when we know to do good is sin (James 4:17 ESV). We need to be assured that whatever we do that is done out of a desire to glorify God is right. If it is done in imitation of Christ – with the compassion and concern for others that he demonstrated – how can it be wrong? It would be, in fact, obeying the Lord’s command to love one another as he has loved us.
Do you have a dream or a vision? Do you see things that could be done to glorify God, things that could lead others to Christ or relieve their needs or lead to people praising God? Share the dream! Help others to see your vision. Then work together to make the dream become a reality.
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, (President of Liberia and Africa’s first woman president).