“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11, NIV 2011).
Ramon stopped me as he was leaving my office after a conference regarding his performance as a fellow. He was doing well and would be moving forward in life within two months to practice in another state. He hesitated at the door and asked me, “Do you enjoy doing what you are doing?”
I assured him that I did and always had.
“Why was it you went to Africa?”
“I worked in a missionary hospital because I felt it was what God wanted me to do.”
Ramon understood somewhat, as he was also a Christian.
“I’m worried,” he said. “I’m beginning my life outside of training and I don’t have a dream. How do you live without a dream?”
I had never answered that question for anyone other than myself. I tried.
“Ramon, you have a wonderful wife and children. You have great skills and a job to do to help others. Go out and do well for your patients and for your family. That’s plenty to make life worthwhile. If God gives you another dream someday, you can pursue that when it comes, but you’ve got enough good to fill your life for now.”
What does it mean to dream?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Certainly, life is more exciting when one follows a dream. Chasing dreams seems to give live more purpose than does present monotony. Chasing dreams makes the difficulties of life seem easier to bear, like the pain of running when you know there is a finish line.
God certainly does at times hand us beautiful dreams; and when He does, we certainly should pursue them with all of our strength and through any necessary difficulties.
But what of life between the dreams? What do we do as doctors when it is just day after day of the same: patient after patient or student after student or project after project? Where do we gain the energy that once we had when there was a dream to pursue?
When my family returned from Africa for health reasons, I spent seven years straining to find a dream worthy of my energy, knowing that God would lead me again to some country overseas. Seven years into that struggle God said to me, “I’ve got a dream for you, if you want it.”
“I want you to learn how to become a Christian doctor---and to be one.”
Day by day, more of Christ and less of me.
Each day, the dream renewed.
Each encounter, a race to be won.
Each decision, a possible victory or defeat for God’s kingdom.
Each person, a challenge to love.
A daily finish line.
A beautiful dream.
Who needs a distant adventure when the greatest of all confronts us every day?
Fill me with your dream, not my own.