A typical day in my life involves running away from pint-sized monsters, listening to the roar of an angry dinosaur, trying to perfect my horrible British accent for tea parties with princesses, and feeding a family of kittens who, as it happens, have the ability to talk and can tell me exactly what kittens like to eat (chocolate chips) and do not like to eat (raisins). These munchkins of mine live in the world of the imagination, and no plot line is too ludicrous to act out. You’re a mermaid today? Oh, a mermaid who turns into a baby jaguar? Okay, sounds good.
I know that in the coming years I’ll hear less and less about these fictional worlds. The talking kittens and roaring dinosaurs will grow quieter as new interests and activities fill my kids’ time. This is part of growing up; if my kids are still having conversations with Peter Pan when they’re 14, we might need to seek professional help. But there is something I hope they never grow out of: the ability to imagine something better.
Could this be one of our failures as the Church in the West, that we have neglected our holy imaginations? Have we stopped dreaming of a world that could be different—a world that could be more loving, more just, more forgiving—and settled for the idea that “this is just the way things are”?
Have we settled for a version of Christianity that cares more about raising rule keepers than world changers?
The world is not the way it’s supposed to be. So why do we resign ourselves to thinking this is all there is, rather than being willing to dream big dreams?
Maybe because big dreams ask us to believe in the possibility that dragons can be slayed, that light really can shatter darkness. They ask us to trust and hope that God is still working in the world, and that, quite possibly, God might just want to work through us.
Sometimes it’s easier to be complacent.
Big dreams are scary. They take us to places where we might not be comfortable. They may even ask that we re-evaluate our priorities. They ask us for more than we can do on our own.
When God called Moses to confront Pharaoh, Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” And do you remember God’s response? God responds, not with a list of all the reasons Moses is qualified to live God’s call, but with these words: “I will go with you.” Moses’ journey would mean, time and again, trusting that God was with him and would fulfill his promises.
When we dream dreams that are too big to live out on our own, we find ourselves in those situations where following God’s call means deeper dependence on him. Those dreams are never the easy ones. But they are the best ones, the world changing ones.
When I find myself feeling frustrated with the way things are, maybe I need to do less complaining and more dreaming. More asking where God might be calling me to respond, and less waiting for someone else to make things better.