“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
In one particular scene near the end, two of the “misfit” toys are dismayed that they aren’t going to find homes again this year. One, a Jack-in-the-box, says, “I’m going to go to sleep and dream of next Christmas.” The other, a rag doll, replies, “I’m afraid I’ve run out of dreams.” Of course, the next minute, Santa arrives, led by Rudolph.
In Biblical times, dreams, sometimes called “visions,” were given special significance. They were thought to be revelations from God (Dan. 2:27-30). When the prophet Samuel was a boy, “ the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” (1 Sam. 3:1b ESV). But God spoke to young Samuel one night (1 Sam. 3:2-10). His mentor, Eli, realized that Samuel was a prophet (1 Sam. 3:8b-9a, 16-18). And over time “ the word of Samuel came to all Israel.” (1 Sam. 4:1a ESV). Samuel shepherded Israel through some of its most tumultuous times: War with the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:2-12), the anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king (1 Sam. 9:15-10:27), the subsequent rejection of Saul (1 Sam. 15:10-28), and the anointing of Saul’s successor, David (1 Sam. 16:1-13). When Samuel died (1 Sam. 25:1a), there were still unsettling times but he knew the nation was on the right path.
Solomon wrote, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,” (Prov. 29:18 ESV). The phrase “the people cast off restraint” can also be translated “the people are discouraged.” The King James Version renders it somewhat more bleakly: “the people perish.” The author of Lamentations wrote of a time when Jerusalem’s “. . . prophets find no vision from the Lord.” (Lam. 2:9b ESV).
John the Baptist came into a world that had not seen a prophet for a very long time, hundreds of years. He came
Peter declared on the day of Pentecost:
“‘“But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
‘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;’”’” (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:16-17 ESV).
It’s up to us to “keep the dream alive,” the gospel that has been entrusted to us (1 Thes. 2:3-4), the dream of a world of peace, hope, and love. Every new year begins with dreams, that this year will be better than the last, that we will be better than we were. With God’s help, we can make those dreams come true.
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29:18 ESV.)