During this graduation season, high school and college students across the land are hearing plenty of speeches about reaching further in pursuit of their dreams. Often, the messaging is about the students’ ability to do whatever he sets his mind to do. Well, we who study the Bible know human effort has a lot to do with accomplishment, but God’s Spirit has more.
The prophet Joel had something to say about the dreams God’s Spirit gives: “… your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions.” (2:28) It’s interesting that Joel’s words were not just for the young and energetic, but for the old. He also had plenty to say about the work of the Spirit in and through females. But at the risk of appearing to be sexist, I have to say that God has appointed men in this world to lead the charge. And we who have been ordained to partner with them will do well to not squelch their dreams.
One of our young friends was married to a seminary student; they had two children and were living on “a shoestring” while her husband finished his studies. She shared with us that her husband had dreams—dreams that they would take the family to Colorado to climb mountains; dreams that they would buy a boat so that the family could go fishing, dreams that they would buy a van so they could travel. His dreams weren’t super spiritual dreams; nevertheless, they were dreams that would enrich and broaden the family. Regretfully, she shared that she always reminded him of the tuition that was due; or that their son had allergies and probably couldn’t do the outdoor thing; or that the van was way beyond their means. She had felt compelled to tweak even his most appealing dreams. Consequently, they never did any of the things her husband dreamed about. And more than likely, his dreams were fewer and fewer.
This brings to mind God’s words to Eve in the Garden after she and her husband had disobeyed: “Your desire will be for your husband …” (Genesis 3:16) While it sounds so romantic, that word desire really means to “overflow, to take control over.” In essence, to take the man’s place. In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge wrote that “women are often attracted to the wilder side of a man, but once having caught him they settle down to the task of domesticating him.”
Ladies, let’s don’t go there. While God created woman as a helper, a means of strength (including wisdom and counsel) for her mate, I think we have to be cautious about extinguishing the burning wick. In fact, let’s pray that God will set the hearts of our men—young and old—aflame with a vision of His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.