Tag Archives: dreams

Marathon Dreams and Christian Hope

This summer I am training for the Twin Cities Marathon. After taking a couple of years off from such focused training due to injuries and my new call to Resurrection Lutheran Church, I will attempt to complete my eleventh marathon on October 7. Finishing is not some vague wish that I am hoping to accomplish. It is an honest assessment of my fitness, training and experience.

Like almost any physical endeavor, patient, persistent training leads to success. From past experience I know that if I am able to run consistently 35-45 miles per week, complete several long runs of 16+ miles and stay injury free, I have a better than 90% chance of finishing the 26.2 mile course. Factors that may contribute to not finishing are an unforeseen injury or illness. I have had some poor race performances (Des Moines Marathon in 2009 and Grandmas in 2007) but even in my poor races I finished.

In recent years my marathon goal has been more ambitious than simply finishing the race. I  aspire to qualify and run the historic Boston Marathon. To qualify for Boston, a runner needs to run a marathon under a certain time based on their age and gender. I qualified once in 2005, but a running injury kept me from running Boston in 2006 and the qualifying time is only valid for about eighteen months. This fall I am hoping to run under 3:55 so that I can qualify for the 2014 Boston.

Now that hope is not outrageous, but it will be a true test of my abilities. It will require proper training and rest. (Overtraining can be as detrimental in marathon preparation as under-training.) It will require focused nutrition and stress management. It will also require some good luck on factors I cannot control (like race day weather).

Still I have the hope and dream of qualifying.

What distinguishes this aspiration from my Christian hope is that my marathon dreams primarily rests in myself and my abilities. My Christian hope rests totally in Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished through his death and resurrection. To quote a famous hymn, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I am a fallible human being who may twist an ankle tomorrow, ending my marathon dreams. But my hope in Jesus remains steadfast because of the promise of God’s Word.

We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. I Timothy 4:10.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being my rock and my hope.

American Dreams

Wednesday, July 4th, the American flag my father gave me will be hung outside my home. He gave it to me many years ago when he noticed we didn’t have one. My father was a quiet man who served our nation during the Second World War, building airfields in Sicily and Italy. He celebrated every 4th with a family picnic and local fireworks. He was patriotic American in steady calm way that resonates well with me even today.

I am proud to be an American, yet I recognize our flaws as a nation and culture. I have had the opportunities to travel to other nations, but I do not see myself living long-term in any of them. I think American can be too materialistic and proud (including myself). Our nation’s history has some very dark chapters with racism and jingoism, but also some marvelous chapters of humanitarian care and sacrifice. We are sinners; we are saints.

In few weeks, I will be cheering for many American athletes in the London Olympics, but I will also be cheering for athletes from other nations. I will be a bit embarrassed if the television networks make some ostentatious show of how many medals Americans have or have not won. I will rejoice in moments when athletes from any nation congratulate others who have done their best. The shared competition will hopefully bring forth the best effort from all the athletes, whatever flag they carry.

There are a couple of songs that I plan to sing this Wednesday as part of my devotions. One will be “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin. The other is a less familiar hymn, “This Is My Song.” The hymn’s text was written by Lloyd Stone (1912-1993). The first stanza states,

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

May the dreams of all nations work for peace, joy and prosperity of all people.

Lord Jesus, be Lord of the nations, beginning with my heart.

Joseph and the Dreamcoat

Joseph and his brothers by French artist Leslie Xuereb

As Resurrection Lutheran strides through God’s Great Story in Sunday worship, this week we stop to observe Joseph the dreamer. Joseph’s story covers the final third of Genesis, chapters 37 to 50. A character study, we watch Joseph mature and embrace his unique calling from God.  Like many, his story will be a bumpy one.

At first Joseph strikes the reader as an arrogant, self-absorbed, spoiled teenager of 17. He brags to them of his special dreams in which his brothers and even his father bow down to him (Genesis 37:6). Joseph has not learned to acknowledge God as the source of his gift. He has not learned to be humble in his use of it.  His dream will come true when he rises up to become second-in-command in Egypt. However, before Joseph can rise up, he will be beaten down several times.

His jealous brothers will attack him and sell him into slavery in Egypt. He will rise up as a favored administrator in a local household, only to be tossed in jail when he is unjustly accused of adultery. He will languish in prison because others have forgotten his talent with dreams. Joseph is on an emotional rollercoaster. Through all the dips and turns one refrain remains constant: “The Lord was with Joseph.” (Genesis 39:2, 23) God did not prevent Joseph from suffering unfairly, but gave him the strength and courage to walk through it.

When Joseph finally has his chance to help the Pharaoh with his dreams, Joseph gives God full credit.

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Genesis 41:15-16

Humility can be a difficult lesson to learn. For years, Joseph sat in jail due to a false accusation.  Early in my ministry I faced an unfair accusation from a visitor to my church.  I wanted to yell and shout, but all I could do was keep silent and let the accusation fade away with time and the help of others.  Until it did I was constantly praying, “why Lord, why?”  No direct answer came, only the promise of God’s presence.  Like Joseph, I had to learn the valuable lesson that God was in charge.

When have you learned a difficult lesson through a humbling experience?

Lord Jesus, humble me that I might trust you completely.

Dream Bridge Ahead

Dreams and Bridges

I better be careful what I ask for.  Yesterday during our staff meeting we read Matthew 1:18-25, where Joseph is instructed by an angel in a dream to take the pregnant Mary as his wife.   I commented that in our culture, dreams are rarely considered as means by which God speaks to us.  So what did I experience last night?  I awaken from a vivid dream, wondering what it means. 

After last night’s stewardship meeting in which we discussed the progress of our “Crossing the Bridge” emphasis, I dreamed that I was crossing a large bridge in my car.  It resembled the large interstate bridge that cross the Mississippi River near Rock Island, IL.   I crossed it often in recent years, taking my daughter to college in Galesburg, IL.   In my dream as I crossed the bridge, it dipped below the water line, but strong glass barriers kept the water off the road way.  A bear and a wolf were crossing the bridge as well.  As I neared the far west side of the bridge, I noticed that vehicles were turning around and heading back.  I slowed as I neared the end.

A young teenager signaled for me to stop.  He told me that the road ahead was blocked and that I would need to wait or turn back.  I decided to wait.  I got out of my car, which then became my bicycle.  I leaned it against the wall and went to explore on foot.  As I walked up the road straight ahead, I could see it was blocked by a grand piano, lying on its side.  I looked for other routes.  There was a small path to the left, but it seemed to small for my car (or bike?).  However, there was also a major road to the right and that seemed to be the way to go, but a crowd blocking the exit from the bridge had not yet moved out of the way.

Needless to say, I have been playing/wrestling with this dream all morning.  Various interpretations leap into my mind.  Certainly part of it is my desire to push ahead quickly with the mission and ministry of Resurrection.  I don’t want anything to block our way!  Yet I discern the need to be patient, to explore the road ahead.  The obvious way may be blocked for the moment, but a new way will be found.  Psalm 16:11 You show me the path of life.

Has a dream ever played a role in your journey with God? 

Or do you have a different interpretation of my dream?