John Steward of Jesus
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Actualizing dreams

September 17, 2010

When do dreams "come true"?

These reflections result from my recent experiences as part of a men's chorus in which I am singing for the third season.  The director and members are openly Christian in commitment.  I am among the younger participants. 

The theme song for the group is "To God be the Glory".   Two of our three "programs" are "sacred".  One of them is "secular" and includes several "patriotic" numbers.  We will be singing this program several times in the near future, including one for a gathering of nurses, who requested a "secular" program.  Recent rehearsals have reviewed this program, which includes a concluding song as a kind of testimony, with these beautiful words:

I have found a deep peace that I never had known
And a joy this world could not afford
Since I yielded control of my body and soul
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.

My wonderful Lord, my wonderful Lord,
By angels and seraphs in heaven adored,
I bow at Thy shrine, my Savior divine,
My wonderful, wonderful Lord.

All the talents I have I have laid at Thy feet;
Thy approval shall be my reward.
Be my store great of small, I surrender it all
To my wonderful, wonderful Lord.

(repeat second stanza)

I sing this song wholeheartedly as a statement of yielding control and surrendering all to our wonderful Lord.  My sense is that this yielding and surrendering includes all our dreams and goals, and looking to Him to put dreams, goals, and directions into our plans.  One of the ancient prophets said that when the Lord poured out his Spirit on people, "Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."

In our rehearsals I have felt a conflict of feeling when we sing an earlier number in the program which includes these words:

You who have dreams, if you act they will come true!
To turn you dream to a fact, it's up to you!
If you have the soul and the spirit
never fear it, you'll see it thru.
Hearts can inspire other hearts with their fire.
For the strong obey when a strong man shows them the way.

Give me some men who are stouthearted men,who will fight for the right they adore.
Start me with ten, who are stouthearted men and I'll soon give you ten thousand more, oh!
Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder they grow as they go to the fore!
Then there's nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
when stouthearted men can stick together man to man.

The words immediately above suggest to me that men can achieve any dream if they simply commit themselves to the task.  I am reminded of the theme song at the General Electric pavilion at the World's Fair at New York in the sixties.  The source of all the electrical advances was summarized as "Man has a dream, and that's the start.  He follows his dream with mind and heart," and, as a result, "There's a great big, beautiful tomorrow, waiting at the end of every day.  There"s a great bit beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow's just a dream away."

My sense is this is another example of the conflict between a self-centered model of life, where we dream as we choose, and then by power of will actualize those dreams, and a surrendered model of life, where we are given dreams by the Spirit of our Lord, who then, if we remain surrendered, uses us to realize those dreams, and gives us, in the process, a "deep peace" which is otherwise unknown to us.

After a recent rehearsal, I briefly told another group member of my conflict of feelings.  He said he saw no reason for such a tension.
Perhaps I am too analytical and too sensitive.  May His Spirit guide us all to a better understanding of His ways.