Sometimes dreams perish – gone in a moment, no trace remaining to prove they ever existed. What was at one moment painted with vivid colors and increasing detail now lies there in ashes without even a spark to lend its color. It is like rushing down a corridor to find that there is no door to the next room or racing down the highway to where the road abruptly ends. The vanished dream is like staring at a blank wall.
It is not only that the dream has ended but that the voices in our minds hurl a stream of questions. Why couldn’t they see it? Did anyone even listen? How could I have been so foolish to think anyone would buy this? Where did I go wrong? I thought God was leading me. Why did He let me think He was when apparently He wasn’t? How could I have so badly misread His will? What do I do now? Do I give up or keep pushing? All the while the blank wall stares back at us without offering any answers and nary a word of consolation.
It takes faith to make a dream come alive. Faith is the blood that nourishes and strengthens and makes a vision more than whimsy. I daresay that without faith no great vision from God ever was more than something rattling around someone’s head. Faith led the apostles out on the day of Pentecost. Faith took Paul into Nero’s court. Faith made the hidden Christians in Rome’s dark catacombs believe for a day when the Church would live in the sunshine. Faith took missionaries to the pagan tribes of Europe, Asia and the rest of the world and when the first wave failed, as often it did, the second, third and tenth waves came propelled by that same faith. Faith made Martin Luther’s theses more than another paper tacked on the Wittenberg door. When Wesley preached to the coal miners of England it was his faith that envisioned them believing in a Savior, and thousands upon thousands did. And of course, the faith of William and Catherine Booth convinced them that their vision of drunkards and prostitutes and ne’er do wells could be mighty in the Kingdom of God.
But when our dream crumbles we find little comfort in what the faith of others did. Where they saw a bright window looking out on a world of possibilities we look for our dream, greeted only by a blank wall. But here is the lesson written on the blank wall. Faith is as important, maybe more so, during our blank wall days than in our days of victorious vision. I must believe God, not because He will necessarily make my dream come true if I try to outlast Him but because He is all that makes sense when nothing makes sense. Truth be told, all those who have enjoyed seeing their visions become reality spent those secret days staring at blank walls as well. Faith is not proven during the heady days of victory and high energy activity but in believing despite every evidence that we ought not believe another moment. Herbert Booth wrote, “And where I cannot see I’ll trust, for then I know Thou surely must be still my all in all.” There is light in utter darkness that no human eye can see.
Habakkuk had to deliver a litany of bad news and condemnation until his soul was weary with the burden of his message. He preached knowing that almost no one would listen, that the nation he loved was headed for crushing defeat despite all he tried to do to warn it. As he stared at his blank wall he wrote with unsurpassed eloquence, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3:17-18). If we can praise on the nights that dreams die we will be ready to shout on the days of visions fulfilled.