What’s the Point?

The molecular composition of sodium bicarbonate. How to factor a quadratic equation. What the acronym TVA represents.

Random bits of high school learning still seared into memory, seemingly useless other than for an occasional Jeopardy question. With all the work that went into learning and memorizing, I wonder: What was it for? Having five children, many times have I answered the question: “Why do I need to learn this?”

Insert your favorite parental response here. I’ve delivered my philosophy of learning many times. Even so, I understand and empathize with their questioning as I, too, am a frequent asker of “why?”


Because I tend to be pragmatic. An advocate for efficiency and utility. I like my present activities to yield long-term dividends. To have purpose. And while those desires may be a helpful at times, left unchecked my pragmatism can morph into skepticism. My “why” questions no longer sourced from curiosity, but cynicism. In pride, I doubt the value of my circumstance and stand-up to God with a litany of “why’s”: Why did that happen? Why won’t this end? Why now? Why not? Why me?

Does God invite my questions? Sure. But my disposition in bringing them defines, in part, the quality of our relationship. Am I looking to dialogue or deliver a diatribe? Do I really want answers or for God to feel my angst?

In her book, Humble Roots, Hannah Anderson suggests: “When we believe that we are responsible for our own existence, when we trust our ability to care for ourselves, we will have nothing but stress because we are not equal to the task.” (p.28)

Yep. Many of our “why’s” are a prideful pull for control. A foolish belief that we can chart our course, avoiding impractical, painful, or otherwise undesirable circumstances. But who can sift the experiences of life, ranking and evaluating their character-building value?

Every conversation, emotion, observation, interaction, thought, and activity shapes our story. What may seem impractical in the moment (like learning to factor a quadratic equation) may instead be a touch-point of grace. Unexpected loss a gateway to joy. Disappointment a detour into opportunity.

We are works in progress — good works! (Philippians 1:6) And while today may bring confusion, uncertainty, and a handful of “why’s” we can step forward knowing that God has a purpose in everything. With confident humility we should remember the past, engage in the present, and hope for what’s next!

Do You Dream?

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams. They’re such a peculiar, unpredictable characteristic of animate life. Rarely are dreams a true reflection of reality (at least my dreams). They combine real people and circumstances, but in ways that are nothing short of bizarre – even creepy. Dreams can be like looking at Picasso’s paintings: you know it’s a person’s face, but the eyes, ears, nose and mouth aren’t where they’re supposed to be.
Recently my wife and I were out on a Sunday afternoon walk. After our usual rundown of the week’s events, parenting issues and the budget I expressed to her a point of struggle. It wasn’t the first time we had talked about this particular “issue” of mine (I’m glad she’s a patient listener). But this time she challenged me with something I’m still mulling over. She asked me if I ever dream with God.
For you Seinfeld groupies, her question gave me a mini version of the Cosmo Kramer full-body shudder. Dream with God? What does that mean? Dreams can be so…weird. And dreams are…dreams. Out there. Speculative. Unattainable. Why would I dream with God?
Now, you need to understand that I’m a very practical, realistic, by-the-book dude. I’m a rule follower. Careful and cautious. Some might say boring. I don’t like to presume or push. I like achievable goals and well-defined expectations. Things tangible – not dreamy.
But my wife is a wise woman. My ideal helper and completer. I take her seriously. So, I pondered her question and discovered I haven’t really dreamed with God. At least not since I was a child when I dreamed of being a missionary among cannibals – Bible in one hand, machete in the other. So why did my dreaming stop?
Perhaps my dreamlessness reveals a lack of trust? Maybe I don’t believe God is worthy of my dreams? That he can’t or won’t meet my deepest desires? Maybe I’m afraid my wishes are out of bounds? That I’d be wasting God’s time – and mine – with thoughts that go beyond my present experience. Perhaps I’m afraid of hearing “no”? I can easily resign to wondering why I would even dream in the first place.
Dreaming with God – or anyone else – is exposing. Expressing dreams brings soul-level nakedness. Dreams can’t be hidden by façades. Instead they reveal the truest desires of our heart. And to share them can be scary. Few of us haven’t had an experience of sharing our most tender hopes to an audience that reacts with laughter, scoffing, doubt or a cool nonchalance.
Still, I return to my wife’s veiled encouragement: dream with God. Okay. But that means I must move beyond my small and predictable perspective. I’ve got to muster courage and release tightly bound hopes. Hopes that seem audacious. Presumptuous. Bold. This feels uncomfortable, even disrespectful. Can I really have full expression (i.e. dream) with our very powerful, all-knowing, in control of everything God of the universe?
The week after that Sunday walk, I prayed. As I did, I ventured into dreamland. I verbalized what lurked in my heart’s hidden places. I spoke to God about hopes I have for myself in regard to the “issue” I was wrestling with. I moved carefully. He received lovingly. It felt good. It was right. I was dreaming with God.
I now work each day to bring my big stuff to my big God. Sure, He already knows my dreams. But it’s good to talk about them. It has helped open the door to a fuller understanding of who God is, as well as who I am. It has caused me to reconsider my purpose and unique design. Engaging God with my dreams has energized my personal mission and inflated my motivation. It has brought me peace.
When I don’t dream with God I miss the best fulfillment of the work to which He’s called me. Dreaming with God brings Him glory, and me joy. It brings a more meaningful meshing of my story with His. Dreaming allows me to experience more of the mystery and wonder of a God who can do “immeasurably more” than anything I can dream.
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.