Marty Brennaman has announced that this will be his last year broadcasting for the Cincinnati Reds. He said, “Forty-six years is enough. I’ve realized dreams I didn’t know I had.”
This resonated with me because I’ve recently been thinking about any dreams I might have had for my life. I’m not the kind of person that sets goals and diligently pursues them. Sometimes I have ideas of what I’d like to do, and if it happens, it happens. If not, that’s okay, too.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do write out goals for the year and strategies for achieving them, but these are all pretty short-range. Dreams are way bigger than that. As I think about my dreams, here is what I’ve come up with.
BIG: Ever since I became a Christian at age 12, I’ve wanted to bring other people to Jesus. Many times we don’t have any idea of how our influence extends, but I wanted to know for sure that my influence helped that specific person.
Over the years, Steve and I have had Bible studies with many “seekers,” those wanting to know more about the Bible and Christianity. Lots of those have been baptized and it was very rewarding. But I’d never influenced someone all by myself.
Then I started following up on a young woman who had gone to Central as a child but had quit coming when her mother went elsewhere. I tracked her down and reached out to her. She was responsive, and I began to hope (and pray) that she would become a Christian.
When we were out of town—on a mission trip, no less—I got the word that she had been baptized into Christ. I was thrilled! I was so happy for her, and to this day she is a strong and faithful Christian, teaching her children to follow Christ as well. She has thanked me for pursuing her and not giving up on her.
But by not being at her baptism, I felt I got a direct message from God on this one: It’s not all about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. God brought that young woman to him and continues to guide her. But I do consider that a dream realized. And one I’m still pursuing.
Small: Innumerable small dreams have been realized. I wanted a house with air conditioning and an attached garage. Shallow? Yes. But I love it. I grew up on a hot Tennessee farm and envied those who had air conditioned houses. We lived in hot, rented or mortgaged houses for the first ten years of our marriage. So when we had both luxuries, I became content about where I lived.
BIG: When I was about eight, friends of the family adopted a baby. I can still remember seeing them on the sidewalk, walking toward the church building with that baby in arms. When I realized it was theirs, I was so excited for them and never lost that excitement about adoption. So I had the dream to adopt, but with no particular plan.
I vaguely thought that after we had a couple of children we might adopt another, but I had no idea we would adopt our second child. The blessings from that adoption and her own adopted child continue to multiply. (Early in our marriage, the growing world population was a concern, and giving birth to more than two children per couple was considered irresponsible. Interesting how that no longer seems to be a social issue.)
Small: I wanted to travel. My mother always saved half dollars (remember those?) so we could have a vacation each summer. We traveled from North Carolina to California, from Washington, D. C., to Texas, but I wanted to go to other countries as well. And I’ve accomplished that dream. A family trip to Australia and New Zealand, followed by ten mission trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Fiji, Brazil, and Panama have given me insights into parts of the world so different from my own. Other family trips have added even more travels.
BIG: I wanted to be a writer from the time I first fell in love with reading. I didn’t know how much work was involved, but I wanted to publish—to see my own words in print, to influence people with my words. Steve always encouraged that dream, letting me set aside an evening a week to write while he and the children took care of dinner and other chores, plus encouraging my participation in writers’ groups and conferences.
I had a few things published along the way, which was encouraging. But I finally got the boost I needed when I received $100 for an article in The Christian Reader (no longer published.) I began to realize that my words could actually have an impact on people and their thinking. Now I’ve published in 28 books, written one with my husband, and published over 175 articles or devotionals. I’ve edited seven books, which I found that I really love to do, and published 440 blog posts. So I think I did turn out to be a writer.
BIG: I wanted to publish a book about my mother. Hasn’t happened. But I’m not dead yet!
Small: I wanted to “visit those in prison” (Matthew 25:36), but I couldn’t figure out how until I started corresponding with one in Georgia and one in Indiana. These men were brought to me without any effort on my part, so I know it was God-led.
BIG: Confession: I had no interest in getting married or having children, but God led me to Steve. I’m glad he did. I did always want to serve God, so he gave me a way to make that happen. He’s given me 50 years as a preacher’s wife and now most recently time as an elder’s wife. Neither was ever my dream, but both are rewarding ways to reach my dream of serving God.
So that brings me back to Marty Brennaman’s comment.
I thank God for realizing for me those dreams I didn’t know I had.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11