I saw his quote again today in fancy font over a pretty picture: a hiker standing on top of a mountain, arms lifted to the sky…
“If you can dream it, You can do it.”
Who can argue with Walt Disney?
We love the success stories of great dreamers, but all it takes is watching an American Idol audition to know the platitude just isn’t true.
If it were, every hometown would have a pro NFL / NBA team, the Olympics would be handing out a gold medal to every competitor, and Mountain Everest would not be littered with the bodies of those who dreamt and failed.
After watching a program about Mount Everest the other night, I didn’t have the intended emotional response to the quote paired with the hiker conquering the peaks; instead, I thought of all the dreamers that still lie in the “Death Zone”, the area 26,000 feet above sea level, many of them strong, young, courageous, athletic men that died in their prime.
Before you label me a pessimistic cynic, hear me out. You know I love Disney,…
I too am a dreamer!
yes, “way down deep inside, I’ve got a dream”.
(So, as we all learned from Rapunzel’s first impression of the Snuggly Duckling, don’t judge too quickly; you might actually find this sobering post inspirational.)
Our limited strength and skill can only take us so far, and much in this world is out of our control. Despite all our plans and careful preparations, one misstep, lapse of judgement, germ or infection, or even a slight change in the weather can bring our great adventure to a fatal end. As we set out to conqueror the impossible, convinced we can do anything we set our minds to, it behooves us to
- examine our hearts,
- evaluate our motives, and
- consider the cost.
I am not saying, “STOP DREAMING”, but, like one of my children who said, “maybe I’ll climb Mount Everest someday”, only to adamantly say in the end of the show, “there is no way I would ever climb Mount Everest!”, with a little information and reflection you might conclude you need a new goal.
Luke 14: 28“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31“Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32“Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. (*see end of post for context)
The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Pride, in it’s many forms: insecurity, defensiveness, perfectionism, bitterness, jealousy, control, manipulation, embarrassment, stubbornness, etc, can irrationally keep us moving forward when better judgement would have us pursue a different course. So, should we throw away optimism and be content with “safe” mediocre ambitions? Absolutely not! As I child, I often read a portion of this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, which my mother framed and hung in our home, which still inspires me, “It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
First: Redefine “Success”
Striving, proving, and impressing is “ordinary” behavior in our insecure, fame driven society that is ever seeking acceptance, popularity, and glory. Being content, secure, and humble is “extra-ordinary”. It is the selfless servant, the heroine with the grander understanding of eternal success that achieves more than temporal, fickle praise from men and material wealth that rusts and fades. (Mt. 6:19)
Second: Know your Purpose, Follow your Calling
What has God MADE you to do, GIFTED you to do, CALLED you to do? You were made in the image of God, and you were created for good works, which He prepared in advanced for you to do. (Eph. 2:10) He is the God of miracles, equipping and empowering ordinary people to do the impossible, the significant, the miraculous! Seek Him. Find your adventure in Him. Obey Him, and you can confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) “Nothing is impossible” FOR GOD!!! As my mama used to sing to me, “God is at work within you, helping you want to obey Him, helping you do what He wants you to do.”
- “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mk. 10:27
- “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD…” – 2 Ki. 3:18
- “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,…” – Jer. 32:17
Third (and most important): Do not take God out of the Equation
Regardless of how noble or impressive your accomplishments seem, if God is not in it, the end result is “vanity”, chasing after the wind. (see Eccl.) Though you build the great pyramids or the hanging gardens of Babylon, walk on the moon, find the cure to cancer, solve world hunger, or climb Mount Everest, in the end we will go the way of all living.
Our monuments will crumble, and even those we “rescue” will die. When you return to dust, what will it profit you to have gained the whole world, or impressed the whole world or even to have climbed your “mountain” if you forfeit your soul? (Mk. 8:36)
Everything is spiritual. Climbing a mountain, going to Disney World, writing a blog, doing the laundry, visiting a neighbor, earning a pay check, giving a glass of water to a child, etc…. everything we do in this life, when done in the name of Christ to the glory of God, in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, is holy and sacred. Kid President said it well,…
If you are discovering that your dream IS stupid (selfish and superficial, eternally insignificant, or out of the will of God), then, like the adorable Kid President said, “you should get another dream.”
Fourth: Stay Humble
The majority of the climbers that do not make it off the mountain die on the way down. Once he reaches the summit, the hiker cannot relax and say, “I did it! I have arrived!” 29,029 feet is only half way. The goal it not the reach the top; it is to safely climb and descend the mountain.
If you’re still alive, you haven’t arrived. — In other words, as long as you are still breathing, God still has a dream for you. Don’t get comfortable in “retirement mode”; your greatest work, your very legacy and most significant contribution to the kingdom of God, may still be ahead. Don’t miss it or, worse yet, destroy your testimony because you did not finish well.
One final word: Pursue Your God Given Dream
The task God has for you is not impossible for you! With the dreams He gives, He provides the way to achieve them. Like the local men of Nepal and Tibet that take up tents, oxygen, and supplies; make accents to clear a path and replace weathered ropes; and are frequently asked to guide climbers, when the LORD calls you to a task, He provides all you need, goes before you to prepare the way, and is with you every step of the journey. You can do this!
An expedition can take 40 to 60 days, because it takes time for the human body to acclimate to the altitude, but the Sherpas, people of the east that live in these mountainous regions, literally have had their hearts changed, enlarged to better perform at elevations that would kill others.
God has prepared you for this season. You are ready to move on to the next level! You are equipped to do what before would have been too difficult had the LORD not built your faith and character. Now, you can boldly say with Caleb (an 85 year old man who had walked through the wilderness with Moses, spied out the land of Cannan with Joshua, crossed the Jordan, marched around Jericho, and was a great leader in the young nation of Israel), “Give me this mountain!” (Josh. 14:12)
As we walk with the LORD, our spiritual hearts are changed, and we can better help others pursue their God given dreams. When we look at “our dreams”, we may initially focus on how they effect us, but if our dreams are initiated my God, they are about so much more than just “us”.
God is working out a bigger story, and our lives have potential to impact so many others in ways we will never fully know until we reach heaven. So, persevere! (Heb. 10:36) Do not throw away your confidence! You have need of it! (Heb. 10:35) … and so does the next generation of saints that are coming up the mountain behind you.
“If God can dream it, you can do it!”
Don’t doubt that He has a dream for you. He does! So, become a Seeking One! You’ll find the view of where He takes you to be unbelievably breathtaking.
(*The cost of discipleship, the context of the verses above taken from Luke 14:27,33 — “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…. in the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”.)
The path of faith and adventure is never easy, but consider the alternative.
Don’t miss it!