Thursday, June 23, 2011
Perchance to Dream
It is about 800 B.C. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah are prosperous. Prosperity has led to complacency, which in turn has become self-centeredness and idolatry. A man is called forth to warn the people of the dangers of what they’ve become. His name is Joel; he is the son of Pethuel. That is all we know about him; scholars aren’t even really sure of the date or who is on the throne when Joel speaks, although it is likely it was Joash.
I tremble, I hesitate
to speak, to say the truth;
it will fall hard upon
their ears, hard upon
the locusts are coming,
to consume, to destroy.
Joel does what prophets do: he chastises, he warns, he tells people what they most assuredly do not want to hear, and he knows what the people do with prophets. They kill them. Yet he says what he is commanded to say, for he must say it for their sake, even if it costs him his life.
The fields are ruined
the trees are withered
the harvest is destroyed
the offerings are cut off
the wine is dried up
it is time to grieve,
to mourn with the priests.
The darkness is coming, he says, the darkness is upon them. And yet there is still hope, a small sliver, a tiny portion of hope: that the people repent, rend their hearts, and return. And with repentance comes the promise: the people will be fully fed, and
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Joel 2:28 (New International Version)
He understands the visions of young men, but he wonders at the dreams of old men. What are these dreams of old men? Are they dreams of sleep, of rest, of withdrawal to silence? Or are they God-sized dreams, big dreams, wild imaginings of what could be as opposed to what is?
Perhaps repentance upends the natural order, infusing youth and energy and exuberance, and even desire and passion, into hearts growing cold. Old men can dream dreams.
Joel smiles, although I cannot tell whether it is from gladness of heart or relief.
To see more posts on “God-sized dreams,” please visit Bonnie Gray at Faith Barista.
Photograph: Dreaming in Red by Yana Ray via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.