One common trait across all mankind is the propensity to dream. Our dreams aren’t all the same, and what some long for may be foolish to another, but from the time we are children, we have dreams for how our life will go. Even the most cynical people in the world have (or most likely had) dreams, and I would venture to say that their unrealized dreams are a large factor in why they are so cynical. I think it is safe to say that empirically, every human heart has this seemingly unquenchable desire written on it, and we often spend our lives chasing the dreams coded into our souls in the hopes our longing will be met.
Perhaps the greatest example I can give of this is a video of a woman going into a very public forum in the pursuit of her lifelong dream. This woman was forty-seven years old when she stepped on the stage of a singing competition television show targeted at people half her age (or less). She had not had plastic surgery in a vain attempt to appear younger. Rather, she stepped on stage as she was. The judges largely bit their tongues and sniggered under their breaths at what they assumed would be a joke, especially when this woman expressed her dream of being a professional singer with success on par with one of the greats, and especially when they heard the song she chose.
As you can see, over 219 million people have watched this video, and I have to confess I still get goose bumps when she begins singing. I think it’s more than her incredible voice or the power of the song, but the poignancy of the moment. Clearly the lyrics of this song speak in some part to this woman’s life. At forty-seven years old, most singers no longer fan the flames of their dream to be a multi-national success. Most people seem to consider swallowing dreams such as these and getting on with their lives to be a sign of maturity and part of growing up. And yet, so many people identify with that longing and so many people see the climatic moment of validation and affirmation that Susan Boyle receives on that stage when, as Piers Morgan put it, everyone went from laughing at her to cheering her.
My suspicion is that many of us feel we can relate to Susan. In some area of our lives, we feel we don’t measure up, or we’re unwanted, unloved, unappreciated, or you name it. We long for and seek that total affirmation of ourselves and the desires embedded so intimately on our souls that they feel as if they are the core of our existence. And, many of us feel we will never experience the exhilaration that Susan Boyle must have felt in those few minutes on that stage. And, for those who do experience it, the moment is fleeting, and we spend the rest of our lives longing to recapture it.
What we often fail to realize is that our hopes and our dreams are but a shadow of our truest desire. God has put eternity in man’s heart. (Ecc 3:11) In fact, we were made to have our dreams fulfilled, our longings met, our thirst quenched, and our hunger fed. We were made to live in fulfilled hope, in joy for eternity, and not just some of us. All of us.
C.S. Lewis sums it up well. “God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
I look at the joy on Susan Boyle’s face as she sings that powerful song so beautifully, and I think about my own vicarious enjoyment of her thrilling victory. As the song says, I feel I have dreams I have “made and used and wasted.” I have dreams I lost and others I doubt I will ever realize. But, I have faith that the biggest dream, the one that far surpasses even our greatest Earthly passions, is available to us all.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.'” (John 4:13-14)
I see Susan Boyle’s joy on that stage and I cannot help but compare it to the ultimate victory. I imagine the day I might run into the loving, expectant arms of my Heavenly Father. I try to imagine the overwhelming joy that I hopefully will feel, and I imagine those fleeting moments of joy Susan Boyle must have felt along with my greatest experiences of joy and then I try to conceive of an exhilaration that would far surpass the combination of all those moments and also last for eternity with every moment carrying the full impact as if it were the first moment.
That, whether it is known or unknown, is the dream we all dream.