Hal Brady

Hal Brady

What do we intend to do with our lives? As we contemplate this critical question, we need to remember that our dreams are more important than the vehicles we drive. An automobile depreciates very quickly, but noble dreams have no limit. When we have no dream, it usually follows that we have no life.

For a moment, let’s focus on the biblical character Nehemiah and his dream of rebuilding the broken down walls of Jerusalem. It seemed such a hopeless task. The walls were in ruins, the people were scattered, and everyone was discouraged and despondent. And all around were the enemies who wanted no strong Jerusalem, doing everything in their power to prevent it. They tried both ridicule and persuasion. Then they put their heads together and plotted, while Nehemiah went right on with his efforts. Four times the demand went up, and four times the answer came back, “I’m doing a great work, and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3).

It’s the only thing that keeps anybody up and moving — a dream, a vision, a purpose — whatever you call it — that’s worth giving your life to. How inspiring to see someone so caught up in a dream that nothing can deter him or her. Such was and is the power of a noble dream.

As someone observed, “Dreams can help us see the invisible, believe the incredible, and achieve the impossible.”

For the rest of this article, I want us to focus on the power of a noble dream that is without limit.

First, a noble dream gives us direction! In the play “Amadeus,” Salieri, the court composer, realizes young Mozart’s genius when he hears his music for the first time. He then contemplates his own mediocre gifts by comparison and says to the audience, “Is it enough just to have passion?” My answer would be, “It is not only enough, it is everything.”

We all need to be passionate about something. A noble dream provides us with that, as it gives us direction.

Second, a noble dream enables us to believe in ourselves! Oliver Wendell Holmes spoke of the people who “die with all their music in them.” He referred to the many people who have splendid potentialities that are unrealized. They never use their capacity to dream to make themselves into the people they might be. Consequently, the “possible you is never developed.”

Countless people who have learned how to keep going report that at least one of the ingredients for happiness is the understanding of the meaning of one’s life. These people believe that every life has a purpose. They know that none of us can do everything, but that all of us can do something. They believe in themselves.

Third, a noble dream enables us to handle criticism! Nehemiah had the answer to this dilemma. He said, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.” Hear me now! When a person is captivated by a noble dream, he/she for the most part will take both praise or ridicule in stride.

Fourth, a noble dream enables us to maintain hope and overcome discouragement! Upon looking at our modern culture with all its pessimism and discouragement, Ken Blanchard described it as an “epidemic of tight underwear.” Not a very pleasant image. But emotionally, many in this culture are like people waiting on a disaster.

So how does a person keep hope alive in a time of deep discouragement? Again, we take our cue from Nehemiah and other biblical giants who were like him. Remember, “they did not come down.” They were held up by a noble dream, a dream of God’s eternal strength and power. And they kept their hands to the task of making that dream or purpose come true.

Nehemiah said, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” A noble dream will keep us going!

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The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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