We live in a world that seems to go faster every year. The phone in my pocket is faster than any computer I’d ever met just a few years ago. Emails, facebook updates, tweets, and so on, just keep coming faster and faster.
I don’t want to sound critical about technology and the information age we now live in. I love being alive today and wouldn’t trade it for any other time in history. But it would be foolish not to pause and reflect on the downside to all the upsides of living in our time.
For instance, I really like being able to research a purchase and find the best price online, make the purchase and have the item delivered very quickly. But the downside is that it is much easier to impulse buy than a few years ago.
When I lived on a ship almost twenty years ago, we would receive mail every few weeks and an email every few days. Today, if you include mail, email and social media, I am probably receiving thousands of messages every day. Naturally I don’t get quite as excited about most of them now as I did back then! But while I may tune out much of the noise that is generated by this flood of messages, I don’t live unaffected by that noise.
Let me draw a stronger contrast to make the point I want to make in this post. If I could go back a couple of centuries, I would find a lot more mental and spiritual margin. My sphere of connections would be very localized. Messages coming to me would be a big deal, and rare. And once the sun set each day, my opportunities to be productive in work would be massively restricted.
Today I am connected to more people than I can maintain meaningful contact with (which pains me), I receive more messages than I can process (which frustrates me), and I can work for 18 hours a day and still feel like the days are way too short.
What gets squeezed out in this world we now treat as normal? For one thing, the space to dream. I suspect Abraham might have spent more than one night looking up at the stars and pondering God’s great plan. I haven’t spent more than a handful of nights looking at stars and pondering God’s great plan with space to dream.
In the frantic rush of the world we now inhabit, we are in danger of losing the wonder of spiritual dreaming. Where do we find the margin to dream about God and heaven? Or about ministry potential and the what-ifs that should stir prayer as we see the world around us? And what about Ephesians 3:20-21?
After three chapters of golden theological reflection on the lavish abundance of God’s love for us in the Son, and the wonder of His power being toward us, and the miracle of our salvation that has lifted us from spiritual death to life, and the sensational transformation of age-old animosity between peoples to create one new man, and the revealed mystery of the multi-faceted wisdom of God in the Church which he built through preaching like that of Paul the great sinner, and the great new temple indwelt by the Spirit of God’s love who is now dwelling in us . . . and after all that, Paul writes that God is able to do “immeasurably, abundantly beyond all that we ask or even imagine!”
Here’s the thing: for God to go beyond what many of us imagine is hardly taxing for Him! In a world where spiritual dreaming has been squeezed out by busy lives and the what-ifs are drowned by the noise of the do-nows, there is a very real danger that we lose a critical part of what God made us to be . . . dreamer, imaginer, hoper, plotter, planners for Jesus!
I think it would do us all good to decompress a little and make some space to dream. Here are some nudges:
Start with those closest to you – if God were to do anything in and through them, what would you want that to be?
Ponder your church for a bit – what if the normal became history and the what-if became reality? What would you want to happen? Remember, David wanted to build God’s temple, but that job was for Solomon. However, David got credit with God for wanting to build it. What would you love to be a part of “building” for God in regards to your church or ministry?
Ponder the needs around you – since we are each wired differently, our answers would all be gloriously different to this question . . . but if you could see God at work in a thrilling story of transformation in your town or your culture, what would that look like?
God doesn’t promise to be our prayer butler who does things the way we ask. But Ephesians affirms that He is more than able to do way more than the biggest dreams we can concoct. As the generation that is in danger of being the easiest to impress ever (if, indeed, we dream less than others before us), let’s pull back from the frantic stuff of life as we know it and look up at the stars, look into the Bible, take a walk, dream a bit, pray beyond our current list and do some pure-faith, prayer-dreaming with God.
We all want to be productive this year, but perhaps creating space to dream and pray would be the very best way we can invest our time this year!
You are invited to articles by Peter Mead at Cor Deo