Every time I hear that phrase I can’t help but think of the final scene in the cult classic, “Pretty Woman.” Richard and Julia have finally returned to each other’s arms in one long passionate embrace. Boy finally clues in, buys girl proverbial bouquet of roses, climbs outside fire escape and goes to “rescue her.” Of course we all know she “rescues him right back.” True love. Dreams fulfilled, right?
As the credits role we see our friendly Rastafarian return to the street shouting, “Welcome to Hollywood! Everybody has a dream…. What’s your dream?”
In this case, the context of the word “dream” oozes Western culture – complete with true love, happiness and prosperity. Our country has even coined the phrase, “The American Dream” which generally connotes a journey from pauper to prince — or at least to duke or duchess.
Don’t misunderstand me. Health, wealth, happiness and even true love are not inherently bad. I just don’t think they fully represent God’s dream.
Every so often God reaches in and speaks to me in a dream – a literal dream. I actually dream all the time, but most of my nights are filled with the kinds of dreams that seem completely lucid in the moment, but dissolve into utter nonsense when I try to recount them to my husband in the morning.
No, the kind of dream I’m talking about has only happened a handful of times in my life. I wake up and know God has spoken. One such dream came to me on day 4 of our trip to Ethiopia. My journal entry the next morning reads:
“I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed I was bathing a group of kids in a very large bathtub. All of a sudden, I looked around and could not find Seniet anywhere. With frantic panic, I thrashed my hand around the bottom of the tub. I felt a little body like dead weight at the bottom and yanked her out. She was limp and lifeless until I threw her over my arm and began pounding on her back. She coughed out water lodged deep inside and began sobbing as she clung to my neck. When I awoke this morning and remembered this horrifying dream, I felt like God impressed this message on my heart….
‘You can’t save them all, but you can save one.'”
My heart races even now as I recount this disturbing image. I tried to imagine what sparked this dream – this message?
Upon arriving in Addis Ababa, my heart sank at the number of kids — SMALL kids wandering the streets. Children searching for water. Children searching for food. Children trying to sell me a piece of gum or a little trinket for even one penny. “Please, Miss, please,” their eyes pleaded. Children carrying babies acting as chief guardian over the younger ones.
How could one adoption, one encounter make any difference at all in this vast sea of need? Need that puts my perceived “needs” to shame. I need to call the repairman to fix our roof. They need a roof. I need to buy drinks for the party on Saturday night. They need water – clean water.
Admittedly, my anxiety got the best of me. And then God reached in.
He reminded me His heart beats for the ONE. The one who has been forgotten. The one who needs a home. The one who needs to find water, food and love – true love.
“See that you do not look down on ONE of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and ONE of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the ONE that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that ONE sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ONES should be lost.” (Matthew 18:10-14)
My dreams are sporadic. My dreams are fitful. My dreams encapsulate the most profound desires of my flesh. My dreams leave a lot to be desired.
Instead of asking that my dream becomes God’s dream, I ask that His dream becomes my dream.
I am not so naive as to think we are “saving” these children. Some people say to us, “Wow, these kids have won the lottery!” I think, “Yeah. The backwards lottery. They must lose so they can gain? What kind of lottery is that?”
I don’t understand the mathematics of it all. At the end of the day the numbers don’t balance out. The “least of these” are actually saving me.
They are changing my perspective and my heart. In God’s economy that’s what’s in need of the most change of all.
What’s your dream? Everyone has one……
For those of you who have a few extra minutes on your hand, take a look at this video a friend posted on her wall the other day. Maybe it will carry you off into the land of dreams.