I have a great theme for you today. It’s a charge; it’s a message title that begins with a verb. Listen: if a sermon starts with a verb, get prepared to make a decision before the end of the message. The verb is wake. “Wake up! God’s dream in You.”
Thinking of all of the speeches I’ve given around the world and I think probably the one that stands out is in Colorado Springs. It was to the graduating class of the United States Air Force Academy. The chapel was packed with the students, the relatives and others. And wow, I looked across those faces and said, “We all have something in common. All of us had a dream and we’ve seen it come true! You’ve come from 50 states and today, all of you here, Air Force graduates are honored with the great diploma. Yes, we have something in common. I had just a little dream; well it was a pretty big dream. First, when I was tiny, and it grew and it survived. My dream was that I could become a platform spokesman for Jesus Christ and give people the impression that they should have, that this Jesus was the son of God.”
Yes, I know what its like for dreams to come true. Oh I remember when I was a child, how we used cardboard in our shoes. Yes, when the sole wore through and we had a hole about the size of a nickel, where the stocking would wear through in ten minutes and the skin of the foot would touch cement or dirt, that’s where I came from. And so we would take a piece of cardboard and cut it out and put it as an inner sole in the shoe. How many of you did that? Look at that. Stand up, I want to see you. Thank you very much. Well let me say to all of you, if you need more new cardboard, let me know and I’ll replace it for you. Wow.
So I want to share with you what I’ve learned about ten levels that dreams go through from conception to realization. Cause I’ve lived the life of the dreamer.
First thing I’ve learned is that the dream was not my dream. I thought it was. But I’ve learned that the dream started in the mind of God. And He gave it to us, to me and to you. It had to start with Him because the dream always had too many impossibilities potentially locked inside of it. Level one: a dream begins in the mind of God.
Level two: God matches His dream to some human being who can be the dreamer of that dream who could receive it with respect and not discard it, discard it simply because it’s impossible. Because something is impossible is never a reason to discard a good idea. Remember that. If idea is good and its great and it’s beautiful, don’t throw it away simply because it’s impossible. Because impossible's are realities that can be changed to possibilities. That’s what growth is about, that’s what progress is about. So God takes a dream, something He’d like to see happen on this planet and He finds a human being and He gives that dream to the person. Always that has to be a person who will believe in miracles. God knows who these people are. You and I don’t know them. Oh we know some of them. But creativity happens when an impossible idea connects in the consciousness of some human being.
Level three: the dream takes on a life of its own. Yes. You know, no dream is ever a dream. There are many apples come from one seed. And in the dream that you have, the dreams I’ve had, they found a home in the hearts and minds of many others. I would suppose that practically every person in this audience this morning picked up a dream that Schuller had for a church and a ministry and you’ve given it, you’re here. You’re praying for it. You’re supporting it. It has become your dream, not my dream. And your dream became in the mind and heart of God, His dream. Wow. He had a beautiful idea that a church, made out of glass, no gloomy corners. Look around. I said to the architect, no gloomy corners. No black walls. All light.
Level four: God times the evolutionary process as that dream evolves. Starts in His mind. He gives it to people. It becomes a commitment and the process begins. Dreaming is not something that happens once. The dream of this Crystal Cathedral was probably forty years but I could never let it go. The idea emerged and then the money had to be raised, and then the engineering had to be accomplished. And it was said, all glass? Four hundred and fourteen feet long? A hundred feet longer than a football field? All windows? That’s impossible. We specialize in turning impossibilities into possibilities, right? Let’s hear you say right. How a dream becomes a reality that will one, it begins in the mind of God, not your mind. Not my mind. Then He finds a human being who will respect it, not discard it. Respect it. And He matches His dream to a human being. Then in that mind of a human, the dream pregnant, impregnated in a human brain becomes a life of its own and it is born with its own power. And it attracts support. The support is not attracted to you. You think so. No, the dream attracts the power like the idea attracts the support in sales. Level four: watch this dream evolve. The process is evolutionary. Wow. It will take time for the right people to be attracted to it. It’ll take time for the right possibilities to happen.
Level five: surprising support for this dream comes out of the blue. Unexpected sources. Every time I shared the dream that God gave me of a drive in church and then this church, and then the television ministry, every time I’d get a letter or a telephone call or somebody would stop me, tell me how they thought it was a great idea and they were on board. Support came always from unexpected sources. People are out there all the time waiting for some interest in life, or some excitement in living. And they are alert to unfolding dreams that are coming out of the blue. And they’ll come to you. It’s happened with me again and again.
Level five: as it comes from unexpected sources moves to level six. Temporary setbacks, difficulties, obstacles will enter to create frustration. That’s to tempt you to back away while you can still walk away. I’ve had to go through that with every dream I’ve ever accepted from God. But God tests us so that He can be sure that if we don’t walk away and will succeed and be crowned with the victory, we will be authentically humble! Knowing that by God, we did it. No, we just didn’t quit and the people made it happen.
Level seven: the dream comes true. The unbelievable happens. And it’s my testimony today and I’ve had dreams. I was a boy, five years old, when I had the dream of becoming a minister. It came true. I had the dream of putting together the systematic theology of evangelical Christianity so people could understand it, and it’s come true. Well I won’t go through all but the rest of my dreams; this one you’re sitting in was a big one, a really big one. And sitting in it, are the people who made it happen. The dream comes true. Thirty years ago today, for the first time, people walked under this roof and we sang praises to God. Wow. The levels of a dream.
Level eight: the dream has come true. What’s left? Level eight and that’s when the dreamer looks in the mirror and he sees how he has changed, how he’s not the person he was when he first made a commitment to go after it. There is an authentic humility that cannot be created out of fiction. There is a profound gratitude to so many people, many of whom you’ll never meet face to face, but they made it happen even though they didn’t know him face to face. He has been shaped by the dream. Yes his faith in God is now a reality like it never was. His faith in people, simple people, is profound. Yes, level nine the dream has come true. But the dream doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end with success. It keeps growing. What God has done through meetings in this structure, phenomenal. Impacting the world. I’m going by invitation of the government to China. I’ll leave in a few days. But China knows our name. The dream keeps growing.
Then finally, when the dream enters the danger zone, level ten, you’ve achieved success. Wow. I remember in these 30 years the people who have been here and went on and they’re no longer with us. I’m thinking of one lady, she came, she loved me and she loved my messages and she baked pies. They would always bring me a pie. It had a name on it: Marie Calendar. Marie Calendar’s pies. I got fat on them. But she was a dear one. She never wanted to miss this church and was one of the first persons to buy a beautiful memorial plot in our cemetery right over here, and if you don’t have a cemetery plot, buy a place. Marie Calendar.
Simple story. She made potato salad and coleslaw in a delicatessen. And then the boss asked her to make pies for the lunch crowd. She did. She baked the pies at home, dragging flour sacks that weighed over a hundred pounds each. Then in 1948, she and her husband sold their car, bought a Quonset hut, bought an oven, a refrigerator and she baked pies that her husband sold to restaurants in the area. She started out making ten pies a day. Two years later, she was baking over two hundred pies a day. Sixteen years later, several thousand were coming out of her ovens every day. Wow.
So then they opened their first pie shop in ’64 and the first year barely broke even. But her husband, later her son, guided the business till it was a chain of restaurants.
So what is your dream? God has a dream for your life. Now the big news is it’s not your dream. Its God’s dream! He sees people. This dream is they might find a job, earn some money, do some product or service. So He’s targeting you. His dream is targeting a dreamer. And the dream will take on a life of its own, if you will let it live in you and not discard it simply because it’s impossible. You got to keep on living and living is turning impossibilities into possibilities. So go for it. Amen.