What Dreams May Come
Our gratitude has a short memory. When we ask, we never forget. When we receive, we move on to asking for the next thing. For twenty-five years I prayed for the soul of a dear friend. Twenty five months after his deliverance and I find I don’t give thanks as often as I should. I’ve prayed for husbands for now formerly single ladies far more than I have prayed in thanksgiving for those husbands. It is not, however, due to the relative distance of these friends that I forget to give thanks, but because of my stiff and stubborn heart.
When I was a teenager I embarked on a dream. I wanted to become a writer. My days consisted typically of three things—the things I had to do (like eat and sleep) and the two things I loved to do—read and write. I wrote poems. I wrote short stories. I even wrote a miserable, humiliating, sophomoric novel. I read stories and novels, and books on writing, books on publishing. Like some boys wanted to be a professional athlete and worked toward that goal, I wanted to write, and worked toward that goal.
Of course I also read non-fiction, things that interested me. I read economics and political philosophy. I read theology and apologetics. I began work on my first non-fiction book while still a teenager. I was just out of my teens when the book was published, as Money Matters. That same book, now in its fourth edition and titled Biblical Economics, has been in print now over 25 years.
During those intervening years I spent years in school. I worked taking orders over a toll-free number. I spent a miserable (for me and the kids) summer as a youth director. I taught at the University of Mississippi. I published poetry in a few lightly read publications. I wrote pieces for the newsletter of the local church I belonged to. I was invited to write pieces on occasion in Tabletalk magazine. Eventually I became Tabletalk’s editor. I had to, of course, plan issues, deal with printers and the Post Office, edit other writers. But I got to write. Not long after I became, if only for a year or so, a columnist for World magazine. I was in turn eventually published in secular magazines, writing on economic and educational issues.
All along the way, I’m sorry to report, I spent more time internally grumbling about the thorns and thistles in my work garden—essentially any part of my job that wasn’t just me writing, than I did giving thanks for the opportunities to not just write, but to be read. All along the way I spent more time wondering why more people weren’t reading my writing than I did giving thanks for the wonder of it all, that I was not only getting read, but getting paid. My dream was coming true, and I was too thick to see it.
Truth be told, that’s still me. There are fewer thistles and thorns. There are more opportunities to write, and more people reading. But I want still fewer thistles, still more readers. When what I ought to want is a more grateful heart. I ought to thank my Lord that He has given me gifts, and uses those gifts as He sees fit. I ought to sit at my computer like a baseball player running onto the field- shocked that I get to do what I so deeply love. I ought, like Eric Liddell before me, joyfully report, “When I write, I feel the Lord’s pleasure.” I ought to cherish the words I choose, even as I cherish the opportunity to choose them.
I ought, finally, give thanks to you. My opportunities to write rest ultimately in God’s hand. They rest proximately, however, in the willing eyes of those who would read. Thank you for being an answer to my prayers. And thank you for all the ways He has called you to serve His body. May He not only make our dreams come true, but make sure we don’t miss it when He does.