Several months ago I was on my way to central London to run some errands. Since the weather was not too bad, I decided to ride my bike to the station and take the train.
I rode my urban bike, Red Arrow, to Watford Junction railway station, and secured it safely at the modern cycle park, equipped with specially installed CCTV cameras and lighting. But when I returned—you guessed it—my bike was gone. Having lost my job during the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not afford to buy a new one.
When I got back home, the phone rang. It was Douglas, a grandpa I had adopted several years ago. As soon as I told him what had happened, he said, “I’m going to buy you a new bike.” I thanked him for the generous offer, but secretly decided not to take him up on it. I put him off for several months, until he finally said, “Tomorrow we are going to the store to buy your bicycle.”
The night before, I had checked the store’s website and found a beautiful Dutch-style bike, with a leather saddle and a basket at the front. It was love at first sight—until I saw the price! I decided to say nothing. The next day, as we walked into the store, Douglas suggested we start with a look around. Suddenly he pointed to a bike and said, “That one! Do you like it?” My heart skipped a beat. It was exactly the one I wanted. Douglas bought it immediately, not minding the price.
I must confess that I often treat God the way I treated Douglas. I act as if settling for less and having “practical” dreams is a great spiritual achievement, the pinnacle of humility. However, if my experience is anything to go by, not daring to dream is not about humility, but about hiding. It is emotional cowardice. Often enough we kill our great desires, when dreaming of and believing for great desires are the true acts of faith!
What if Douglas had chosen a different bike? I might have said, Well, maybe that was God’s will! But what if God wants to give you exactly what you dream, but instead of taking a risk, you bury your desire? I was scared, so I hid my talent in the ground (see Matt. 25:25). Remember him?
Throughout this process Anne, one of my best friends, kept telling me: “Ask for what you really want! God does not do half miracles.” I have a lot to learn from her. Although Anne does not always get what she asks for, she is not afraid to ask. We honor God when we dream, and ask, and approach Him truly alive, not numbed by cynicism or anesthetized against all hope.
We deceive ourselves when we think that dreaming small will prevent us from suffering. For the less we choose to feel, the feebler our passion. To be fully alive, our hearts need dreams, a degree of risk and adventure.
“But what about contentment?” someone asks. Aren’t we supposed to be content no matter the circumstances? Here’s what I think: If God tells you to put your dream on the altar and sacrifice it, you must do exactly that. If He doesn’t, then keep dreaming and believing. Why organize funer- als for dreams God never told us to bury? We let go far too soon because hoping hurts.
So how can we hold on to our dreams when the waiting seems endless and God seems mute? By remembering that Jesus enters our pain and, in doing so, redeems and sanctifies it. The story of Lazarus’ resurrection is a great example of this. Jesus was late on purpose because He had a better plan. However, He recognized that His tardiness had caused a lot of pain. In fact, I think Jesus was picturing all of us. His prophetic eyes saw the accumulated years of waiting and hopelessness of all humanity. He saw you and me wondering if God had forgotten us. And rather than numbing His heart and running away from the pain, rather than saying “Stop making a fuss; I am about to resurrect this man,” Jesus chose the courage to feel and to weep. Only after acknowledging and honoring our pain did Jesus resurrect Lazarus.
This is the source of our hope: We serve a God who cries with us. Emmanuel waters the seeds of our courage with His own tears. We don’t dream again based on the illusion that nothing will ever go wrong.
Faith is not an insurance policy against all risks. We dream because we know that even if we do not receive what we wanted, our pain will never be wasted.
What do you want? Before healing blind Bartimaeus, Jesus asked him a seemingly unnecessary question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51, NIV). If Jesus were to ask you the same today, what would you answer? I believe that one of the most profoundly spiritual things I’ll ever do is the two-step act of figuring out what I want and mustering the courage to go for it, rather than covering my lack of self-awareness with fake humility. Jesus wants me to know and own my needs and dreams. This means untangling myself from other people’s expectations. It means stilling myself long enough to breathe and hear my own God-inspired thoughts. It means trusting my intuition, something I was conditioned to doubt for years. And it means taking risks and making mistakes. All of which feels very uncomfortable and impossible to control. Moreover, our hopes and fears are too often the result of wondering what people think; of burying our dreams and desires so deep that we no longer even know who we really are.
So I ask you again: What do you want? There is nothing remotely spiritual about not dreaming, not asking, or never risking a thing. Being a Christian is not mainly about safety and practicality. Go ahead, dare to dream! God is calling you to an adventure of faith with Him. The journey will involve mistakes and uncertainty, but it is worth embarking on. Go ahead and dream. Trust Him enough to ask for something only God can do.
So, “be strong,” “take heart,” and “hope in the Lord” (Ps. 31:24, NIV).
Vanesa Pizzuto is a communication specialist; she lives and works in England.