Dreams, God, tomatoes

I was perusing the Christianity Today website, following an emailed link about devotions for men.  I ran across an interview with the creator of Veggie Tales who answered a question about the loss of his "Big Ideas" company through bankruptcy with these resonating words:  "The emotional longings we attach to our "dreams" often say more about the unmet needs of our childhood's than God's calling on our lives."'  I recognized this feeling and asked a couple of my best friends, my sister Kila and Rob Nollan for their response.


Are dreams unmet longings?

Kila and Rob;

I consider you both mature friends who are sound, reflective thinkers.  Here is something I would like to hear your ruminations on, by Paul Vischer, inventor of Veggie Tales.  He was responding to a question in an interview on Christianity Today website, "What are you dreaming about now for the future?"  He answered...

"The emotional longings we attach to our "dreams" often say more about the unmet needs of our childhoods than God's calling on our lives." 

Wow.  That resonated me with me as i thought about my "missionary" expereince in Malawi years ago.  I realized that my "dream" at that time definitely was more about my emotional needs than it was about God and a vision for his work in the world.  Can you offer me some of your thoughts?

Jay

... a mug 'o beer

Hi, Jay.  After a four-week vacation, a little bit of dinner, and a mug 'o beer, I'm feeling prepared to answer your question.

Emotional longings don't necessarily come from unmet needs of our childhood.  Often, I think mine come from the fulfilled needs of childhood that are no longer fulfilled in adulthood.  I dream of someone always telling me I'm brilliant, witty, and handsome.  But ever since I moved away from my mother, no one else seems to share her views of my perfection!  Many of my dreams revolve around wanting people to find me brilliant, witty, and handsome.  But Phil Vischer is right... I don't think those dreams have much to do with God's calling.  That's why I like to analyze my real dreams... not my personal aspirations, but what I dream about at night.  I think God often speaks to me through them.  My two dreams recently:  first, I was at an old garage not unlike your original short-ceilinged Lone Yew Rd garage with my old '71 BMW.  It was in pieces in the yard, with mainly the chassis as the focus.  Somebody wanted to buy what was left for parts, but I was still convinced I could put it back together and get it running!  I woke up.  Later, I fell asleep and dreamed I was at a construction site.  A house had been framed up but there was no roof yet: just a floor and wall studs.  My guitar was on a stand, but outside next to the piles of dirt from the foundation footings.  I couldn't figure out why my guitar was outside, and then along came Jeremy Kelly (remember him?) and I knew that he had been coming at night and using my guitar and not putting it back where it belonged.  I was very resentful. Then I awoke.  So clearly, my first dream showed me that there are things in my life that I should have sold off and been done with a long time ago, but I still hold onto and refuse to let go.  The second dream showed me that God is trying to build something new in my life, but I'm caught up in irrelevant, minor details that revolve around the difficult people and students in my life!  I need to get over the Toledo phase: there are good friends there, but we're not going back.  And I need to set my mind on the house God is building in our lives here, but I can't be sidetracked by the difficulties that seem to be a nuisance.  The big issue is that God is building something for us here that we can live with in security.  Whether the guitar gets wet or used or replaced in the wrong place doesn't really matter... can we minister to the Jeremy Kellys of Penang?

Things have gotten lost

Rob;

I knew it!  I knew it!  You would have some good thoughtful fodder for me if I asked you.  You are a good friend Rob.  Thanks for talking.

Details:  Yes I do live about 1 hours bus ride from Seth but he is not very communicative as in maybe he wants to not be found... He does not have a cell and I just got his email last week from Joe so I am trying to track him down and get him out for a coffee.  Joe says he and Brittn are doing poorly but I have no first hand insight.

Malawi... hmm maybe i should make a coffee and sit down to write this one.  It just about makes me cry every time it comes up.  Here is a short version: 

At Dalat as a teenager I tried to be a good kid, responsible, spritual, but I found that when I took God at face value, I always ended up being more mystical and less rational and "loving God" was not something I seemed capable of doing in a physical body.  I would read my Bible too much, pray too much, have difficulty making normal every day decisions as I tried to "seek the will of God" and so I learned to just be reasonable and participate in structural Christian acitivity taht did not threaten my ability to live normally (I went to church, had devotions lost fo the time, repsonded at SEW, etc.)

What can't you not do?

Wow.

Incredible.

What a stunning story.  I had no idea!  And I am so sorry.  Wow.

I don't know how to even respond.  I've tried several times, and I just erase what I write and quit and start again later.  Jay.  Holy... wow... my goodness...

Okay. Okay. Okay.

You are coming into focus!  This explains soooo much about many of the conversations we've had.  I still remember one of our initial conversations out in the boat on the river in which you said you just don't really ever hear God speaking or feel like you know him personally or even can.  You just seemed kinda dead to God.  Well, no wonder.  You were scarred.  You opened up the package labeled "Gift from God," and it was a hand grenade with the pin pulled. BOOM!

But I've seen slow growth and recovery in your life since that time.  Going back to the initial horrible events sure is hard, eh?

I think we can know God's will.  But I don't think we can know what the results of following his will in the short term will be.  Longterm: blessings.  Short term: maybe blessings, maybe hand grenades or land mines or nuclear bombs.  One of my biggest annoyances is shallow Christians who say "Temporal blessings mean God loves you.  Suffering means God has abandoned you."  This isn't faith; it is following the path of least resistance.  That has nothing to do with God.  We can certainly follow the path of least resistance and I think we can even serve God along the way.  Open doors, closed doors.  Which ones are from God?  Does he open the ones we're supposed to go through?  Or does he instruct us to force open some of the closed ones he points out?  Are we too weak and insecure to open locked doors that he wants us to open?  Are we too stupid to not go through open, inviting doors that he hasn't pointed out?  Sometimes I can discern what I think is the will of God for my life.  But most of the time I only know what basic things he has called me to and I live out daily obedience to those instructions.  Eugene Peterson has a really encouraging book called "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society."  It's based on Psalms 120-134.  Many of his chapters were difficult for me to read, because he often turns our expectation of God on its head.  What our world expects of God is often flat-out wrong.  He struggles with many difficult topics and he doesn't give easy band-aid answers.  See if you can find the book in your library.  That's where Elyn found the copy we have.


Copyright 2011 Jay Reimer    (You can email me at jay.reimer@gmail.com