RITE OF PASSAGE: Dream On!
Dreams: during our growing-up years, we all had them. Children’s dreams have no limits. I think one of the reasons we find kids so delightful is that they still have the ability to dream. Some dream of becoming president of the United States. Others dream of becoming doctors, lawyers, mothers, policemen, astronauts and . . . more. Often, children build an entire life of play around their dreams. Both my sons dreamed of being superheroes (complete with capes), and my little great-niece dresses up as a princess nearly every day. As I travel the globe, I see evidence of young people’s dreams in every culture, tribe and tongue. Almost every child has a dream of becoming something, someone . . . somebody.
As we travel down the road of life, our dreams tend to take a detour. Most of them end up on a dead-end road in an unfriendly city called Reality. Recently, I was talking to an elderly gentleman and asked him what he still hoped to accomplish. Through his long years of life, this man has done many things and been successful in numerous ventures. I wanted to hear what he had to say. He replied with a single word: “Skydiving.”
“I want to go skydiving on my next birthday,” he explained. Then he added, “You know, Walker, a man has to have a reason to get up in the morning.”
That’s why God gives us dreams: so we have a reason to get up in the morning. Like my elderly friend, I believe you can never get too old to dream. I know people who have been dreaming of their retirement years, not so that they can settle down, but so they can be free to serve on the mission field. And I know several wonderful couples who have done exactly that.
God shows us a number of dreams and dreamers in His holy Word. Caleb, one of the 12 spies of Israel, waited 40 years to see his dream fulfilled, but he never stopped dreaming about the Promised Land. God affirmed his dreams and his faith: “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24).
I count myself blessed because I have lived to see the fulfillment of many of my dreams. I have married the most beautiful woman in the world, raised two sons who make their old man proud, driven a tank, skydived, soloed in an airplane, lived in the jungles, spoken for a week at Falls Creek and written a book that has been translated into two foreign languages. I have walked on the Great Wall of China, hunted for crocodiles at midnight with the Embera Puru of Panama, spit off the tractor with my granddad, played Corrie ten Boom’s piano, gone white-water rafting, been first in line for many of the rides at Disney World, started an international missions organization, taught a Rite of Passage Parenting Conference in Spanish (well, I taught in English and a dear friend translated) and met many influential people. But guess what? I need to have a reason to get up in the morning, so I still have dreams for the future.
In no particular order, I want to share my list of dreams. Each one involves an activity I intend to accomplish before I die. I hope to:
• spend a week traveling with a circus.
• ride in a jet fighter plane.
• Scuba dive in the ocean alongside sharks.
• raise up the last missionary.
• spend a week with my family on a sparsely populated island.
• share an evening with all my Baptist Messenger readers in one convention hall.
• lead each of my grandchildren (if I ever have any) to the mission field.
• build a house and do all the construction work myself.
• meet the President in the Oval Office.
• become fluent in a second language.
I can hear some of you saying, “Walker, you don’t really believe you can do all of those things, do you?” I know I will achieve some of them fairly easily. Others are God-sized dreams that will never be fulfilled unless He makes a way. But yes, I think I will accomplish them all or die trying.
By the way, if you notice some naysayers standing by my casket one day with this list in hand, pointing out, “He didn’t make it,” please tell them on my behalf, “He accomplished far more than those who didn’t have a list at all.”
Parents, teach your kids to dream by sharing . . . your own.