I never thought pews were that comfortable, even the ones with big long cushions across them like ours. But it turns out that lying on them, with a kneeler for a pillow, is surprisingly relaxing. So there I was, shoes kicked off and stretched right out on my back in the middle of the service (because that’s sort of okay at my church), looking up at the high, ornate ceiling, starting to dream.
I saw the stars, painted across the expanse.
I heard the voice of God to Abraham, echoing in the darkness.
“Look up. Count the stars, if you can. So shall your offspring be.”
I followed old Abraham’s train of thought.
What a dream: full of possibilities, a whole nation to come, a people blessed by God to be a blessing, a brand new story.
Then the doubt: how ridiculous, how self-important, how absurd. No chance.
Next the realism: nice thought but too big, dare to dream but for the vaguely achievable, one child would be a miracle.
Finally the compromise: perhaps focus on being a good uncle instead. Leave the dream alone; don’t open yourself up to disappointment. You’re doing fine without it.
As a church, we’d spent the afternoon dreaming. We gathered in our brand new church centre, a stunning building itself the result of a grand dream, buckets of blood, sweat and tears, and years of hard work. As someone who’s only been around 20 months, I’m grateful to enjoy the fruits of the labour of so many.
The building now complete, we shared our dreams for the years ahead – a vision for a growing community, totally committed to one another and to being good news. The dreams were far-reaching, spreading outwards like the stars in the sky. Children nurtured, young people given hope, the lonely shown love, the stranger welcomed, life and grace bubbling up and overflowing, a tidal wave breaking down every wall. Companionship, compassion, commitment, coffee.
Some dreams already within touching distance, dates already in diaries, excitement already building. Others so far just a spark spotted in one another’s eyes, a seed we dare one another to plant and promise to water.
I had a dream too.
A dream that the passion I felt there, surrounded by my family, basking in the glow of their faith and energy, would permeate all of my life.
A dream that I’d care less about time spent in bed, evenings glued to Netflix, mornings spent recovering from the night before – and more about time to serve, time to invest, time to give, time to grow, time to build the kingdom of God.
A dream that I’d be able to physically move into the area, caring more about being fully committed to the community that God’s put me in than I do about saving money on rent by living further out, trusting in his provision for what feels impossible.
A dream that I’d be more generous with my earnings, more open with my welcome, more creative with my talents, more ambitious with my energy, more holy with my lifestyle.
And I saw the stars, painted across the ceiling.
And I heard the voice of God echoing in the darkness.
“Look up. Count the stars, if you can. Your dream isn’t so stupid. It might sound too small to others – but it’s not insignificant. It might feel too big for you – but it’s not crazy. I’ve put no limits on the possibilities. I’ve put no barriers around the potential. Look up. Count the stars, if you can. “