Let the record show that I am an official card-carrying AARP member; I also am on Medicare. Just writing those words seems strange. I guess I assumed everyone else would age, but I would stay young forever. For me, though, age isn’t measured by dates on a calendar but rather, by vibrancy of spirit, openness to learning and growing, a refusal to quit dreaming of what could be, and making contributions to leaving the world a better place than I found it. The prophet Joel speaks of a day when young men would see visions and old men would dream dreams. Well, I believe we are in that day, and I want to be one of those old men who never stops dreaming.
There are people who specialize in analyzing and interpreting people’s dreams. We know from Scripture that God used Daniel to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, and Joseph was used to interpret the dreams of a Pharaoh. Dreams sometimes have a greater purpose than simply serving as a reminder that we ate too much pizza the night before. We also know that issues we consciously deal with while awake can also bleed into our subconscious sleep. Many of us have had the experience of trying to solve a problem in our dreams that we were facing the day or week before. I’m no expert, but I do pay attention to my dreams. Sometimes it’s God’s means of communicating to us when our conscious defenses are down, and we have stopped talking long enough for Him to speak.
However, the kind of dreaming I am referring to, the kind I want to do as an old man, has to do with the positive optimism that springs from a thought or idea of what could be if or when… Those are dreams I can control if I’m fully connected to the One who inspires those imaginations. I believe God has a dream for each of us individually and the world collectively.
My prayer is this:
God reveal to me Your dreams or Your desires and what role I can play in bringing Your dreams to fruition.
Someone has stated that if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. This in no way minimizes or negates the role of planning in our lives. The Bible speaks of the wisdom in sitting down and counting the cost before you dig the foundation for a tower. (Luke 14:28) I’ve lived long enough to be able to tell stories where my dreams were not God-sized dreams, and thus they failed.
Sometimes older adults are viewed as people who are living in the past, telling and retelling stories about the good old days. We shouldn’t disregard the past by any means and should remember lessons learned, wisdom gained, and challenges overcome. It’s fun to reminisce and visit yesterday’s stories, but we shouldn’t look in the rear view mirror too long, as that can distract us from looking through the front windshield of tomorrow and all that lies ahead of us.
One of the things I want to do as an old man dreamer is to listen to young people’s visions that are also God-inspired. This past Saturday I did just that while attending a well-planned, God-inspired conference called TOGETHER. It was hosted by two amazing young Co-Pastors, Zac Kohl and James Talbert, who pastor at Citizens Akron. Here are the words that were shared as to the mission of our gathering.
“Today we hope to celebrate God’s movement and reimagine how the Church of Akron can rally to build bridges, incite movement, and boldly step toward the people of Akron to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known to every person. We believe this vision is far too robust for one individual church or non-profit organization to achieve alone. In order for this dream to become a reality, we must unite together, recognizing that the thing that unites us is far greater than the things that divide us. As the African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” So, together let us rejoice in gratitude of the great grace that has been freely given to us by our Savior. Together, let us come to the table of conciliation as we walk through the journey of reconciliation together. Lastly, let us reimagine what the Church could be in Akron and Northeast Ohio for the sake of the kingdom, Together.”
This old man sat there beaming as two young men called us to unite as One Church for Christ’s sake. My grin widened even further when Zac and James demonstrated their spiritual maturity by inviting another seasoned man to share his dream for collaboration. Doug Kohl is a well-known “serial collaborator” (kudos to Mark Scheffler of Leadership Akron for that moniker) who also happens to be in my season of life. He shared wisdom from his experience as a city leader and a Christian colleague and one whom I deeply respect and value.
These two young men united with a seasoned veteran and made their event about more than tearing down the walls of color but also tearing down the walls between the generations. We have so much to learn from each other if we are willing to lay down “our plans” and come together around God’s plans. My heart was filled with gratitude that God is raising up another generation who “gets it” and is calling Christ’s Church to answer the prayer of Jesus in John 17, that we be one.
I have no clue how much time I have here on this planet. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to make the same mistakes that old men sometimes do by making foolish decisions and misbehaving in a manner that trashes their credibility and integrity. I want to finish well and “die with my boots on.” I want to leave this place for a better land with young men and women around me teaching me how to “do Twitter” and how to connect with their world. Perhaps I will be able to impart lessons from my own experience which will assist them in fulfilling their mission and fuel their passion.
Until then, this blog is making me tired, and it’s time for this old man to go sit down and dream. I mean the kind of dreams that occur while I am awake and asleep. Good Day and Keep Dreaming!