As I cradled my three-week old great niece in my arms last weekend, she began to dream. Her tiny eyelids fluttered as she entered REM sleep. She cooed; her breathing became more rapid. She kicked. Never had I encountered such a thing. I puzzled over what a baby could have to dream about. But then I realized two things. For one, dreaming is intuitive and non- or supra-rational. For the other, it’s part and parcel of being human. So why wouldn’t even a little infant dream?

Put another way, we are inherently imaginative, creative, and hopeful. Those are the essential qualities that make us human, for they most fully reflect the character of God, in whose image we are made.

Our brokenness does not define us, though at times it threatens to. Dante has over the entrance to Hell: “Leave all hope, you who enter here.” In other words, to be separated from hope equals becoming separated from God (see also Isaiah 38:18). Or to quote a somewhat less literary source, Nick says to Alex in Flashdance: “When you give up your dreams, you die.”

It is our ability to hope even in the direst of circumstances that testifies to our origins in the heart of God and by the hand of God. The flame of zeal for the future, of the dream for a better tomorrow, may become a mere flicker sometimes, but as long as we hope, we are not lost.

The apostle Paul expressed the confidence of someone with complete hope in God: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Another writer put it this way: “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…” (Hebrews 6:19).

We are all cradled in the arms of God and dreaming.

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham