A football team steps onto the field with confidence and a firm conviction that victory is certain. Images of celebrating in the end zone fill their minds. By the end of the first quarter, those dreams are fading and all but gone. A mishandled punt, a fumbled hand-off, and an interception leave them with a first quarter deficit that seems insurmountable.
Every professional golfer begins the Thursday round visualizing what it will feel like to stand on the 18th green on Sunday knowing that victory has been achieved. A miserable front nine, an even worse back nine, and the professional feels the tournament slipping away. By late Friday afternoon the car is packed, the dream of victory is gone, and thoughts of "maybe next week" fill his thinking.
The season begins with every college coach thinking, "This could be our year." The early part of the season goes well with victories coming easy and often. An injury to a key player, the chemistry of the team changes, and the victories stop coming. Dreams of championships and celebrations become thoughts of what might have been ... if only.
The enterprising businessman has dreams of independence, exotic vacations, and an early retirement. Plans are made. Facilities are acquired. Finances are secured. The business opens. Excitement is in the air and things look good ... for a while. The customers simply do not come. Bills pile up. Discouragement sets in. What began as the dream of a lifetime ends with disappointment and disillusionment.
The couple stands before the audience of friends and family with their life all planned out. "We'll get married, we'll both work for a while, we'll have children, then grandchildren, and we'll live happily ever after." A year or two into the marriage the excitement fades, the romance seems to be gone, he never talks, she is always angry.
The couple had dreamed of retirement days filled with travel and leisure time together and visiting the children and grandchildren. Then, he got sick. Then, he was gone. Now, she's alone.
The small group of college friends had a dream of mission work in a distant land. They receive the training. They find the field of work. They accumulate the operating funds. They enjoy a royal send-off. The first few years are glorious. Joy in service. There is significant positive fruit from their labors. A division occurs. Egos are damaged. Pride gets in the mix. The mission ends and friendships are lost.
Sometimes dreams fade quickly. Sometimes dreams fade slowly. Sometimes dreams come true. Sometimes we wait for God to work His plan to show us things beyond our wildest dreams.
At a point in the history of God's people when their dreams seemed to be fading, the Lord spoke to Joshua, their new leader.
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide:
"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them — to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates — all the Hittite country — to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: "Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'" (Joshua 1:1-18)
Is your dream fading? Do you sense it is about to disappear? Has your dream already faded? Hear the Lord, "Be strong and courageous ... get ready ... I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you ... Be strong and courageous."
Faded dreams can be reborn. Get ready. God is still God.