When you look at this old house, what comes to mind? Do you wonder what happened to the people who once lived here? Do you wonder why they abandoned their home?
When we reflect a bit longer on this dilapidated building, it occurs to us that it may well represent something more. At the very least it suggests the possibility of shattered dreams and dashed hopes.
You can easily imagine a young couple surveying this site in some yesteryear talking about how it is the perfect place for their dream home. You can easily imagine this same couple talking about the dreams they have for their future together, along with the exciting possibilities each of their children brought. Did they imagine themselves teaching their grandchildren how to fish in the spring-fed pond out back?
Why did this building fall into this state of disrepair? What caused the residents of this home to abandon their dreams which compelled them to make this house a home? Perhaps they didn’t lose their vision for the future. That is a possibility. Yet, the photograph does suggest the possibility that something happened. Something derailed them. Perhaps some tragedy overwhelmed them, robbing them of their imagined future. What could it have been? Why did it occur?
In a sense this building represents the disappointments and dashed hopes that most of us have encountered. Some of our dreams have been shattered. We’ve known stagnation and frustration in our careers. We’ve experienced trouble in relationships with the people that matter most in our lives. We’ve known the emptiness of hearts grown cold and spirits that have lost their sparkle.
While our curiosity prompts us to wonder just what happened and why it happened, would it not be better to inquire whether or not they were able to overcome? And, if they did, how did they overcome? This seems to be the central issue of our lives. When our dreams have been shattered, how do we learn to dream again? How do we shape a positive vision for the future, when our house needs an extreme makeover?
I believe we can learn to dream again. I’m confident that God wants us to do so. I am persuaded that the Scriptures point out this positive path forward. While I believe the following verses articulate three steps we can take, I wouldn’t suggest to you that solutions come easy—that there will be no costs, no challenges. Consider Paul’s reflections recorded in Philippians 3:12-14…
 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
This text seems to suggest that the Apostle Paul’s strategic plan for shaping a positive vision for the future. I would suggest that this can be summarized by the following imperatives:
1) BE REALISTIC about whose you are, where you are and where you are going. Verse 12 says, in part, “…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
2) BE RESOLVED to live “in the moment” applying every ounce of your energy to what lies ahead, being utterly oblivious of and completely unconcerned about what has occurred in the past, putting it completely out of mind—not crying over spilt milk, nor resting on your laurels. Verse 13 concludes with, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
3) BE REALISTIC about whose you are, where you are and where you are going! Consider what Paul says is his guiding philosophy in verse 14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The positive path forward, the means by which we are able to shape a positive vision for the future, begins and ends with Jesus. It involves unwavering resolve to look above and move beyond the futility and failure of the past, living each moment in passionate pursuit of God’s promises for brighter tomorrows. This is the way of Jesus. This is the way of Jesus for our lives. This seems to be the theme that runs through one of my favorite passages of Scripture.
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. –Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT
We learn to dream again by keeping our eyes on Jesus! May God help us all to do just this!
© Bill Williams
May 19, 2007