“I had lost the ability to dream, and it’s just now coming back”, she said, half smiling and half lamenting.
I was sitting with a friend, discussing the next major step in her destiny. I had asked about dreams that she had, and to what degree this next step allowed these dreams to blossom. It dawned on me as I listened, that life had robbed her of a way of thinking. The dawning thought grew brighter as I listened.
“I had stopped thinking about possibilities,” she continued. “Everything looked like limitations to me, and they kept telling me what I couldn’t do.”
The picture was becoming more and more clear to me. Dreaming, possibility thinking, viewing the world and your destiny through the eyes of what can be; all these are freedom thinking. I have been pondering for a while this nasty opposite that I have come to call prisoner thinking.
Prisoner thinking is a mindset that is born from, and maintains our place in, the world as post-Genesis-three citizens. A child born in a prison camp thinks differently about freedom than someone who was once free and has been enslaved.
Imagine that child born in the prison camp. He stands at the fence every day, gazing out as far as he can see. His heart longs for freedom but all he knows is prison. Like every one of us, he was born into this trap. Ask him what freedom is and his answers will sound like this.
No more prison food. No more prison beds. No more prison dirt. No more prison schedules. His whole definition of freedom will be based on escaping what he has always known. He has no idea of what can be. Freedom is always a result of thinking differently. Not just possibility thinking, but dreaming. God has put eternity in our hearts. We haven’t seen it yet, but if we look up and dream, it will begin to fight it’s way to the surface.
My friend told me that for the longest time, all she could see were limitations. What she couldn’t do, what she believed she was incapable of, what was stopping her.
One of my favorite attributes of God is described in Romans 4. The Bible says that He “calls into existence things that are not.” It occurs to me that to be able to call things into existence, you must first think of those things. You must consider possibilities that are not yet. You must dream. As soon as dreaming dies, you are stuck with only what you can see.
Prison beds, prison food, prison schedules and a big foreboding fence. Dream-killers. We live in a post-genesis world, surrounded by dream-killers.
The hard part is that the dreaming almost always precedes the seeing. Experience almost always follows belief. This means that we must learn (or remember) how to dream, while the impossible still looms., while still surrounded by dream-killers. To imagine what is not yet, so that we might partner with God to call it into existence.
“The righteous”, God says, “will live by faith”. I might say it this way. God’s people must learn to dream again in the midst of the impossible. God’s people must learn to live again, while surrounded by death.
Look up. Dream. Think in new ways.