I think I need bigger dreams. It was reinforced in a coffee shop recently.  The guy in line in front of me said to the cashier, “How’re you doing?”  The answer, which you’ve heard before, was, “Oh, you know. Livin’ the dream.”  Complete with eye roll.

Any time I hear someone say they are “livin’ the dream” it’s spoken with sarcasm, irony, boredom and clear disdain for whatever the person is doing in life. It can refer to school, a job, a relationship or lack of relationship. It’s spoken by someone disillusioned and beaten down, whether in attitude or life circumstance. I think we need bigger dreams. I do. My dreams can shrink to the size of “if I can just get through this next week,” or “Lord, I need to finish this sermon.”  That doesn’t even qualify as dreaming.

Other people think they dream big, wanting luxury trips or money or nice clothes or a cozy retirement or whatever. But those dreams are equally small and depleted. What do bigger dreams look like?  In the world of immigration controversy, we call those affected by the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act “Dreamers.” For young people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as minors, the DREAM Act provides temporary conditional residency, a right to work and a path to permanent residency. It is badly mired in courts right now, but for a young person to be able to work and move towards citizenship…that seems like a bigger dream.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a very famous dream, of course. You can hear his voice ringing with power and emotion: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”  That seems like a big dream, still unrealized.  Dr. King followed that line up with another dream, this one borrowed from the prophet Isaiah: “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” That’s a big dream.

The Bible is surprisingly filled with dreams. Jacob had one in Genesis 28 about a stairway from earth to heaven, and God’s angels moving up and down on it, heaven touching earth.  In Matthew, Joseph dreamed that the Lord appeared to him and instructed him to wed Mary and name their son Jesus. Another dream warned Joseph to take his young family to Egypt to keep the child safe, and still another one later gave the okay for their return. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s sermon quoted the prophet Joel, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

Dreams tend to expand our world, show us new possibilities and see opportunities that weren’t there before. Our eyes are opened, and sometimes more able to see what God is doing around us. That almost always changes our priorities. Or puts things in perspective. Big dreams, God-dreams, make us larger people. Small ones, self-focused ones, tend to shrink us. It’s one reason I love the book of Revelation. It might be seen as one big dream (technically, a “vision” but I’m not going to quibble), putting God’s plan for people into a cosmic and eternal setting, and painting pictures like this:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

That…is BIG. Huge, actually. Living’ the dream.


Peace of Christ,

Dan Baumgartner


Dan Baumgartner is the senior pastor at The Cove in Santa Rosa CA and serves as Secretary on The Fellowship Community Board.