David Jeremiah - Dream: Seize Your Tomorrow Today
When we think of great dreamers, we think of people like George Lucas, Elon Musk, or Walt Disney. I mean, anyone who's seen a Star Wars movie, read about electric cars, or visited Disney World knows that great accomplishments begin with one person's larger than life imagination. Walt Disney's dream began with cartoon sketches, two failed companies, and a borrowed book on animation. In time, he brought beloved characters to life. He created classic films and built Disney World, Disneyland, and the Epcot Center. He created the happiest place on earth, and became known as the man who made dreams come true.
When Disney was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was still planning movies, developing theme parks, and mulling over his newest idea, an experimental prototype community of tomorrow, or Epcot. As he lay on his deathbed with his brother Roy sitting nearby, Walt looked up at the hospital ceiling tiles, raised his finger, and every fourth tile he said represented a square mile. Using that mental map, he suggested routes for his envisioned highways and monorails.
Having said all that, I believe Walt Disney's dreams were too small. Believe it or not, you and I can dream bigger dreams than Disney ever conceived. It's one thing to invest one's life in a magic kingdom, and it's quite another to play a part in the kingdom of God. As followers of Christ, we can cultivate a dream for our lives that outlasts the world, transforms time, changes eternity, and advances his cause and his kingdom for his glory. In fact, that's the story of the Bible. The Bible is filled with people who saw what life could look like in God's kingdom, and then moved forward in faith. All these stories, the dreams of men and women of God thousands of years ago, still inspire and guide and affect us more than we know. They remind us to keep dreaming.
There's always more out in front of us, always a reason to look forward to tomorrow. By the way, when I'm talking about a dream, I'm not describing a self-made vision of your life apart from God's will. And I'm not using the word as the ancient prophets did, when supernatural visions of inspired revelation came across them. I'm not talking about seeing heavenly creatures or having apocalyptic dreams. No, instead I'm talking about envisioning the next step or the next stage of your life. A dream or a vision is simply a picture of what you feel God wants you to do next.
Let's talk for just a moment about the power of a dream. For hundreds of years, Israel had worshiped around the frayed remains of the tabernacle, the elaborate tent that was constructed in the days of Moses as a portable house of worship. But now, the nation was occupying the land God had promised, and Jerusalem was its capital. So, David began dreaming of a permanent place, where people could worship for centuries to come. David's story reveals the principles that you and I can follow as we build our own dreams.
Principle number one, root your dream in history. In 2 Samuel 7, David told the prophet Nathan, "See, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains". So, David grabbed hold of his dream and began moving forward to see its fulfillment. But David's idea to build a temple didn't just poof into his head like an exploding nebula. Oh no, it was rooted in the history of Israel. You see, centuries before God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice and burnt offering on a distant mountain. And God was specific about the mountain, not just any hilltop would do. No, it had to be Mount Moriah.
A thousand years later, when David and then Solomon planned to build the Jewish temple, they placed it on that very mountain, Mount Moriah. David's vision for the location of his temple had roots as deep as Genesis 22. It was grounded in the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only begotten son as a burnt offering. And it's no coincidence that 1,000 years after David, Jesus Christ gave himself as an offering for sin on or near that very ridge.
You see, the best dreams don't start with us, but instead are planted in us by God. If it isn't rooted, it's rotten. We stand on the shoulders of others. We are links in a chain, that we build on what others have done, even as future generations will build on the work that we have done. That's why it's all right to look around for ideas and see what other people are doing. We get ideas from history and from how others are inspired to act today. To develop your dream, think about your heritage, what you love to do, your life experiences. Think about your background. Everything in your life has prepared you for the next step, so look at what's already happening in your life and in your church, and start where you are, and work outward and forward. Root your dream in history.
Second, reproduce your dream in a picture. As ideas and intentions begin to bubble up in your heart and mind, you need to figure out where to begin and how to implement your dream, so you have to nudge the abstract burden into a real life plan. Let me tell you what I've learned. Visionaries have an uncanny ability to see their dreams and convey them in images. That's how David built the impetus needed for his temple project. As we have seen, David's dream began when he told the prophet Nathan, quote, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains".
The temple wasn't some abstract concept. No, it was a vision that filled David's mind in Technicolor. He was able to convey that image to others and motivate them to action by drawing a contrast. "Look at my palace with its paneled walls and glorious bulwarks. And look at that frayed tent called tabernacle. Shouldn't God's house be better than any home of yours or mine"? You see, the ability to see what could be in the future is essential to straining forward toward the realization of your dream. Don't worry if you can't see the final fulfillment of your long term dreams. We will walk through the practical steps toward reaching success in the time to come. But for now, what matters is being able to imagine your dream in a way that captivates both, others and you.
And then number three, reinforce your dream with determination. David discovered that every dream faces discouragements. I can give testimony to that. That's part of the process of proving its validity. David's dream for the temple excited him like nothing else in his whole life. He was fired up, ready to go, eager to lead the campaign to build. He could see it in his mind's eye every time he looked from his palace rooftop toward Mount Moriah. He was ready to see his dream accomplished. But then, if you know the story, the roof caved in. God told David he would not be allowed to build the temple because of his violent past. Here's what God said. "David, you shall not build a house for my name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood. It is your son Solomon who shall build my house and my courts".
You talk about the death of a vision. But David didn't pout for long. I love this story, he told himself something like this. "Well, if I can do it myself and if God has appointed the task for my son Solomon, then I'll just do all I can to help him succeed". In refusing to give up on the project because he was taken out of the driver's seat David illustrated a core value of dream building. No dream is ever realized without a huge measure of determination. If you're going to see your dream through, you have to be determined. So, root your dream in history, reproduce it in a picture, reinforce it with determination.
And number four, reconcile your dream with its cost. As you build your vision, be willing to sacrifice. Let me tell you something that's without possibility of contradiction. Dreams are costly. Dreams are costly, as David found out when God led him to purchase some land for the temple at a high spot in the area. Here's the story. Because he was the venerable king of Israel, I mean, he could have seized the land, he could have just taken it. But David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, "No, no, no, I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing".
Big dreams are expensive. If you've experienced a fulfilled dream, you know what I'm talking about. The cost comes in money and energy, in criticism, in unbelief, in unplanned obstructions, in unfaithful helpers, and a multitude of other very discouraging things. You have to reconcile your dreams with cost. If you're looking for a cheap, easy way to get where you want to go, just stop right now, there is no such thing. To realize your dream, if it's a God-given dream, there's a price to pay. But I promise you it is a price worth paying.
Finally, release your dream to your legacy. Looking back on this period of Israel's history, one thing jumps out at me, and here it is. This was David's dream, and it ended up being called Solomon's Temple. David's dream, Solomon's Temple. You see, David not only accepted that, he made that happen. It was his dream all right, but when the dream was not going to be realized in his life and God said, "Pass it on to your son", David refused to allow his dream to die when he died. And although he was not allowed to build the temple, the Lord gave him the construction details, which he passed on to his own son Solomon. Here's what he said, "'Consider now, Solomon, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong and do it'. Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat, and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit of the courts of the house of the Lord, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things".
You say, "Pastor Jeremiah, what does that all mean"? Well, the Holy Spirit had instructed David with the specific details of the temple, and David in turn passed them on to his son Solomon. I could imagine David transferring that information from God onto an architectural blueprint, and laying it out before Solomon, and saying, "Here it is, boy. God gave this to me, and this is what you're going to build".
David had dreamed of building a permanent place where God could be worshipped. And he determined to leave something behind that would honor the Lord. It was his dream, and the resources he put in that place that allowed his son Solomon to move quickly toward the construction of the temple. And David's instructions to his son Solomon have been a charge to pastors and missionaries and Christian workers ever since. 1 Chronicles 28:20, "Be strong and of a good courage, and do it. Do not fear, nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord".
One Sunday afternoon in 1771, a man named Valentin Hauy ducked into a restaurant in Paris for dinner. He sat near the stage, and the show that evening featured blind people and a comedy routine. They were objects of ridicule and cruelty. And the act was designed to make fun of their blindness. Deeply offended, Hauy began to develop a burden for the blind. Sometime later, he spotted a sightless street urchin who was begging for coins outside a Parisian church. Giving the boy some money, Hauy was amazed to see the boy feel the raised markings on the coins and distinguish the amounts. That gave Howie an idea. Why couldn't books be written with raised letters, like images on coins? Why couldn't people learn to read with their fingers?
Hauy took the boy off the streets, offered him food and shelter, and devised a plan with wooden blocks and numbers, and taught the boy to read. In 1784, Hauy started the world's first school for blind children. It was in Paris, and one of the first teachers was the blind boy rescued from the streets. But that's just the beginning. Several years later, another boy named Louis was born in the village of Coupvray, France. His father was a farmer and a harness maker. And as a toddler, Louis loved watching his father work with leather tools. But tragedy struck in 1812 when 3 year old Louis began playing with the leftover scrap of leather, trying to punch holes in it. His hand slipped, and the sharp tool punctured and put out his eye. And infection set in that spread to the other eye, and little Louis ended up blinded in both eyes for his whole life.
A local minister named Jacques Palluy loved the boy and began visiting him to read him the Bible. Seeing the boy had a good mind, Father Jacques determined he could receive an education. So, at age ten, Louis was enrolled in the school Hauy had established in Paris, where he proved to be a brilliant student. Eventually, Louis began teaching other students in the Paris School for the Blind. He studied Hauy's method of reading. He also became aware of a system of military communication develop by a French army captain that allowed soldiers to communicate in the dark by running their fingers over a series of dots and dashes.
Though still a teenager, Louis Braille began adopting these systems into a program of his own. And in 1829 at age 20, he published a little book on the Braille method of reading. The school resided in a damp building by the river Seine. It was cold and unhealthy, and the food and conditions were poor. Louis got tuberculosis, but he continued working on his system of reading, which began catching on, and soon was being exported all over the world. As his health failed, Louis said, "I am convinced my mission on earth has been accomplished. I ask God to carry me away from this world".
Now, pause for just a moment with me and think of the chain reaction of that cascading dream. One man developed a burden for the blind when he saw ridiculed actors on stage and a beggar boy on the streets. His burden led him to establish a school and attempt a system of reading. Then a local pastor developed a burden for a blind boy in another village and taught him the Bible, and longed to send him to school. And that blind child, Louis Braille, developed a burden to improve and expand Hauy's work, and the world was changed, and as a result, millions of sightless souls have experienced the joy of reading the Bible and other books for themselves now for almost two centuries.
We may never create a language for the blind or build a temple for the Lord, but please remember there are no small tasks in the Lord's work and no insignificant dreams. Our work is never routine, our labor is never wasted, and our legacy is capable of outliving us. I've always loved radio and everything about radio. From sitting next to the radio as a child with my ear to the speaker so I could listen to "The Lone Ranger" or "The Shadow", to putting together night radio kits as a teenager, for reasons I can't explain, I have always loved radio. And radio has had a mysterious hold over me as far back as I can remember.
When I became a student at Cedarville College in 1959, I was given the radio opportunity of a lifetime. A new Christian FM station was being launched in Springfield, Ohio, just 15 miles from my home. I don't remember how it happened, but I was able to audition for an on-air announcing position, and I got the job. I did the news, I hosted the call-in music shows, I queued up and played radio programs like, "Back to the Bible" and "Unshackled". When I was asked to help start a radio station on the campus of Cedarville College, I teamed up with Paul Gaffney, a college classmate, and my girlfriend and soon to be wife, Donna Thompson, and we launched WCDR FM. In time, that station grew to a network of stations that literally covered the entire Miami Valley with great Christian music and the message of the gospel.
When I was a junior in college, God called me into the ministry. It was absolutely, definitely clear to me that I was to become a preacher of the gospel, so I immediately enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary. Donna and I got married right after graduation from college, and we headed off to Texas for four years of postgraduate learning. My greatest regret, if I could call it that, was this. I loved radio. I had spent most of my life involved with radio. Yet, now it appeared God was leading me in a totally different direction in terms of my vocation and lifelong calling. Radio was put on hold for four years while I worked on my masters degree.
But what happened after that is one of the most amazing stories of my life. After a short stint as a youth pastor in New Jersey and 12 years as a pastor of a startup church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I accepted the call to Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego. And the next year, I began a local five day a week teaching program on a Christian station in San Diego, Salem Radio's KPRZ, and the rest is history. Today, "Turning Point" hits the airwaves on more than 3,000 radio stations in the United States. "Momento Decisivo", the Spanish edition of "Turning Point", is heard in every country where Spanish is spoken.
So, you can see God did not call me into the ministry to take my dream away. He called me into the ministry because my dream was way too small. He had a much better and a much bigger plan for my life. And as a result of those experiences, I've learned I can trust God with my dreams, even as I move forward toward his plans for my life. And I've told you all the stories and shared all of this gospel message from the Bible to tell you one thing. You can trust God with his vision for your life. You can be like Nehemiah, who said, "God put it in my heart". And when God puts something in your heart and gives you a dream, never stop until you've realized it, and you will be the most blessed person on the face of God's green earth.