Before you were created, God dreamed of you. Your brown eyes, the color of your hair and skin, the wild expanse of freckles on your nose—all these were part of God’s design for you before you were born.
Dreaming and planning is a uniquely human and God-like thing to do. Other animals don’t do long-range planning. There have never been house designs found for a beaver dam. There are no college manuals to consult when considering fish schools, and elephants may trumpet to communicate, but you will not find music scores in a trumpeting class within the local herd.
That is the word I’ve been hearing in my head. When I think about dreaming, I am drawn to Isaiah 11, especially verses 9-10. “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious (NASB).”
When I read these verses, I shut my eyes and begin to dream of a place where no harm is done anymore. I dream of a place where God’s glory dwells, a place where all men turn to the root of Jesse—Christ himself.
I can also dream of this existing now—not perfectly—but more beautifully. I can dream of a place where people choose not to harm one another: where drugs aren’t pushed, where shootings don’t occur, where women aren’t traded like slaves, and children aren’t beaten or abused. I can dream of a place where kindness abounds and love overwhelms fear.
But to dream these wild unimaginable dreams of God and to boldly go where Christ calls us, we must experience the presence and knowledge of God, like a man named Telemachus.
Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 5th Century Roman Empire during the reign of Honorius. He loved his aesthetic life of prayer, purity, and simplicity, where he was separated from the turmoil and evil found in the busy cities. However, one day God called him to Rome. What in the world would a gentle mystic do in Rome? While there he entered the Coliseum where men were locked in mortal combat. The earth drank their blood as men stabbed and slashed one another with sharp weapons. The crowd cheered with bloodlust as men died.
Telemachus’ gentle sensibilities were grieved and horrified by the brutality.
Suddenly, he could bear it no longer. He leapt into the arena to try and stop the bloody carnage already in progress. He raised his voice to the crowds, pleading for moral reason, “In the name of Christ, stop this!” he begged. Some were silenced; some were not.
Many became angry as this diminutive, unarmed monk tried to interfere in their blood sport. Some began to thrown stones. Once again he pled, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” His words echoed across the Coliseum. Others grew quiet.
More of the throng began to throw stones at him. The bloodlust was already flowing, so it didn’t take long for the crowd to become a savage mob hurling heavy rocks in deadly earnest. “Kill him!” the crowd cried, as rocks pounded his broken body.
Then, one more time Telemachus whispered as he breathed his last, “In the name of Christ, stop this.”
The cruelty of his martyrdom and the power of his words silenced and stunned the crowd. Everyone left. Several days later, Honorius ended the gladiatorial fights, and none were ever held in the Coliseum again.
I wonder, at what point in the process did the dream of God become Telemachus’ dream? When did he dare to imagine the end of gladiator battles? What pushed him to such bold action? Was it because he knew his Savior so well? Was it because he knew verses like Isaiah 11? Was it because he had already been dreaming and praying the dreams and desires of God? Had he already been praying against the gladiatorial fights?
What is our dream? How can we help stop the blood letting? In what arena do we need to plead, “In the name of Christ, stop this.”
We need more godly men and women like Telemachus.
I saw some of them tonight when I went to a Better Birmingham informational meeting. At the gathering, men and women spoke of the things they are doing to stop sex trafficking in the world and how others can become a part of the solution. One such Telemachus works in Bulgaria—the heart of the European sex slave trade. Another began a billboard campaign against pornography that spread across the nation. Another couple works with families damaged by pornography and the sexual slave-trade industry. Another counsels pornography addicts—some as young as six years old. (In the name of Christ, we must stop this.)
These saints are encouraging purity and going to the streets to get to know the women and children caught in the sexual slave-trade industry. They are offering healing for the abused and prosecuting perpetrators. They are screaming, “In the name of Christ, stop this!”
God calls us to dream more dreams and pray big impossible-except-for-the-grace-of-God prayers. He wants us to dream about the beautiful, holy, and transcendent more of kindness, love, and hope. He wants us to imagine a righteous more. A gentle more. This more is not self-righteous, but it is holy. It is not harsh, but it is bold. It pleads. It longs for and sets free. It demands justice. It fights and dies and sacrifices itself for the purposes of the glory of Christ.
It dreams, right alongside God, about higher purposes, beautiful tomorrows, and a world where we do no harm and embrace the deep love of Christ with open arms.