Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and we begin the season of Lent. It is a time for all of us to stop and to reflect and remember Do you remember those days when you dreamed beautiful dreams? You were thinking about the wonderful life that was waiting for your over there in the future. Dreaming is a vital part of living. Think how impoverished our world would be without dreamers. Every great human accomplishment is nothing more than a dream come true. The electric light was once a dream in the mind of Thomas Edison. The Fifth Symphony was once a dream in the mind of Beethoven. And right now, the cure for cancer is a dream in the minds of medical scientists and someday that dream will come true.
Most of us are not inventors or great composers, but all of us are dreamers. We feel some discontentment with things as they are, and we dream of life as it might be. And I hope we never stop doing that. We should never get too old to dream. If our trust is always in God, the possibilities of life are limitless and the future is forever bright.
But here a word of caution is in order. You see, not all of our dreams can be trusted. Some of them are sheer illusions. This is what Lent should remind us of, what dreams are real and what dreams are illusions.
For example, some dream of freedom without responsibility. They are determined to live life without considering any other person. They would go where they want to go. They would do what they wanted to do. And they would not have to explain to anyone. In their mind, that is what it means to be free.
And I doubt there is a person reading this who has not dreamed, at times, of that kind of freedom. We would like to be free from the family that is constantly making claims on our time, attention and money. We would like to be free from the rules that we did not make, and do not want to keep. We would like to be free from the public opinion that is constantly observing our behavior. In short, we would like to get rid of that nagging sense of obligation. We would like to be free from the feeling that there is always something that we ought to do.
But reality teaches us that no responsibilities means no freedom, that anyone who is committed to no one is a slave to the worst of all – himself. You see, there is a law in life as real as the law of gravity. It is this; there can be no happiness of freedom without holiness. This is simply the way we are made. We cannot seek to satisfy our lower nature at the expense of our higher nature, and ever expect to be genuinely happy.
Some people think it is very sad that physical pleasures do not last and, worst yet, do not satisfy. But reality disagrees with that. It is, in part, unhappiness that saves us from ourselves and from our sins. It starts us thinking about God, and eventually drives us back to Him.
Is there anyone who is trying to find happiness and freedom without God? Our Lenten message is then for you. You think your sadness means that God is far away. It does not. It is a sure sign of His presence. Through the pain of disappointment, of dreams not realized, God is reminding us of our real home, and calling us back to the only way of life where we will find true happiness. It is the way of Jesus. Let Lent be our new beginning.