Dreaming Small

“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Let’s talk about your dreams for a minute. Not the one you had last night. I’m talking about what you want to do with your life. When you can’t sleep at night because you are imagining the greatest things you’ll ever do, what does that look like? What are your dreams?

I think that as our world gets smaller and smaller (meaning we can find out who is doing what in Tokyo, for instance, at this very moment), we have more and more people with whom to compare ourselves. And let’s face it, there are some folks out there who have done some pretty impressive things. I read an article recently about a girl who decided not to go to college, but instead started an orphanage in Africa and has now legally adopted many of the children. She has done it almost entirely on her own. I read stuff like that and I’m astounded and impressed, but I also become very keenly aware of the fact that it takes most of my energy just to be faithful and make it through my very ordinary day.

Let me quote from the author, James Smith, from a graduation address he gave a few years ago: “You don’t need me to tell you to dream big. But I do hope you’ll hear me when I encourage you to also dream small. Because that might be what really matters.”

You see, the stark reality is that you most likely won’t be running your own orphanage in Kenya. If you do, then I’ll be your biggest fan and will cheer you on all the way. But, most of us are going to find ourselves stuck in the mundane, day-in-day-out existence. Just ordinary life possibly working ordinary jobs, or taking care of ordinary children. Some of you may feel stuck there even right now. Get up, go to school, practice the violin, do your homework, go to bed, repeat. Does this really have value? Are you just waiting for ‘real life’ to begin?

Let me suggest that you are living real life right now. Don’t wait for life to begin, because you are currently in it. The question is, can you dream small enough to see the value and beauty in an algebra equation? Can you learn to be astonished by the extraordinary nature of even the most ordinary life? Can you accept the fact that maybe even if some of your biggest dreams don’t come true, that there are dreams to be realized every single day and they are right in front of you: the way you treat a stranger, the time you take to talk to the awkward girl at lunch, the attention to detail you give that watercolor, and maybe even the few extra minutes you take to stare at a sunset.

The question is not necessarily what you end up doing, but how you end up living. Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

Today, take time to ‘dream small’. Give yourself away more than your comfortable with, and linger a bit longer so that you’ll give yourself time to wonder at the beauty of this place God put you.

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