“Pastor, is it wrong to dream dreams?” I hesitated before articulating a meaningful answer. My response was on the back of a sermon that I had just preached on self-denial. However, I was also reminded of the words of the prophet Joel: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28) I suspect my reply to the young enquirer surprised him: “Whatever happens, keep blowing bubbles!”
It was my privilege as a young Christian to regularly sit under the ministry of the late Rev. Stanley Banks (former principal of Emmanuel Bible College, Birkenhead and UK Executive Director of OMS). It was Rev. Banks’ pleasure to frequently quote from the writings of the late F. W. Boreham. Dr. Boreham once reflected: “Life’s most delicate texture is woven of dreams, visions, ideals, illusions. Possessed of these, a man is wealthy, whatever the dimensions of his bank balance. Destitute of these, however extensive his estate, he has reached the limits of abject indigence.”
As a child with my siblings, a dad with my daughters, and now as ‘pops’ with my granddaughter, I have always enjoyed blowing bubbles. It is all too easy to become a completely absorbed bubble-blower, hurling shiny balls into space; with the wistful half-expectancy that now, at last, one has created a lovely globe that shall float on and on, like a fairy sphere, forever and forever more. The bubbles burst, of course, but one is the happier for having blown them. Equally, our dreams may never come true, but there is an ecstasy in dreaming.
Not unlike my young enquirer, when I was young in the faith, I dared to dream dreams. How well I remember, however, an older, much more mature Christian, cynically denouncing my illusions. To him, all was vanity and vexation of spirit. Life was uninspiring and hollow and unreal. “Mark my words,” he declared, “all is not gold that glitters!” Years on, I have learned that such cynicism is a species of crime. To be criminal implies an evil hand; to be cynical reveals a very evil heart. It is a thousand times better to be blowing bubbles that, though fragile, are very lovely to the eye, than to move sullenly about the world telling all the blowers of bubbles that their beautiful bubbles must burst. Everyone knows that bubbles will burst. The person who feels it necessary to go through life shouting this obvious platitude at the top of their raucous voice proves, not that they are endowed with the gift of prophecy, but that they lack the saving grace of common sense. The world would be very much the poorer, and in no way the richer, if no bubbles were left in it. To be well furnished, it needs a good stock of bubbles, a good store of dreams.
What are we to do when our dreams leave us? The answer is obvious. If one romance fails, we must get a better, that is all! Any person who has not been soured by cynicism will confess that the romantic tints in the entanglement of life have deepened, rather than faded, as the years have passed.
The Scriptures have much to say for the consolation of the disillusioned. They consistently urge us to lift our eyes from the broken toys that have disappointed us to the splendours that endure for evermore. Of Jesus Himself it is said that, for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross. Even amidst the horrors of that darkest hour, He kept His radiant and eternal dreams intact.
Whatever happens, keep blowing bubbles!