Vincent Van Gogh
In the book The Intellectual Life, author A.G. Sertillanges distinguishes four kinds of reading:
- fundamental reading~ formative books that enable us to acquire all-around culture, usually read at that stage of life when one is laying down foundations for life.
- accidental reading~ I would re-name this "informational reading". It's what you do when you need specifics on a given subject, like how to decorate a cake or change the oil in your car.
- stimulating reading ~ the old, faithful books you return to again and again for encouragement and help.
- recreative reading~not trash, but lighter books that provide restive relief such as travel books, nature books, or poetry.
Today I experienced the fulfillment of a dream, and it awakened in me the memory of the Catherine Marshall books I immersed myself in about 30 years ago. Those books constituted a large part of my foundational reading. Though I haven't consciously thought of them for a long while, I suspect the living ideas therein have become inextricable threads in the warp and woof of my personality.
I believe the book Beyond Ourselves was the one in which Catherine Marshall expounds upon dreams, and here I mean desires for the future as opposed to night-night dreams. Her encouragement was to bring those dreams out of the nether world and put them down on paper where they may be acknowledged, examined, and prayed over. Some dreams are just whims of desire that pass through and leave not a trace. Other dreams, however, may be planted in the human personality by God Himself. To fail to recognize them as such may keep us from pursuing the highest and the best.
My dream was for a co-operative school. We had a half-dozen families participate in one in our small church about five years ago. It was a rich. The children studied Latin, did science experiments, learned woodworking, studied logic, and dissected cow eyeballs. Our family loved it! But for a number of reasons, it only happened that one year. My children never forgot the experience and kept asking when we could do it again.
A year ago, I made it a serious matter of prayer. I researched, wrote down goals and ideas, and looked at it from every angle. I could not make it work. The right pieces to the puzzle were not in place.
So, I did what Catherine Marshall taught me to do. I prayed the prayer of relinquishment. I gave the dream back to God with the understanding that if it was He who had planted it in my heart, He would fulfill it in His own way and in His own time.
One year later, I can affirm absolutely that my God is able to make dreams come true! Today our church opened its doors to 100 homeschool students and 40 parents for co-operative learning. There were classes in music, art, cooking, sewing, recorder, speech, and Russian studies. Joie de vivre!
Sadly, I think it fairly typical that as youth is left behind, our dreams also begin to fade. It requires a great deal of energy to see a dream through to completion, and energy has a way of dissipating as we expend ourselves in the everyday pursuit of a decent life for our families.
When I turned 50, the Lord gave me a very personal promise from Psalm 52:10, which says:
"But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God."There is a companion verse in Psalm 92:13-14:
"Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."
The fulfillment of a dream has, for me, also been a fulfillment of that scripture. There is something wonderfully energizing in realizing that which has been hoped for.
hmmmm......makes me wonder what's next?