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In childhood and young adulthood, dreams are a way of imagining the future you desire. These are the dreams we experience while awake, not the dreams that come to us when we sleep. The Bible has a lot to say about both kinds of dreams – the visions in our sleep and the hopes we have while awake. I have always found the verse in Joel 2:28 inspiring, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

I have no difficulty imagining young men seeing visions, and both men and women speaking the truth. However, I am impressed with the idea of old men dreaming dreams. Too often, past a certain point of accumulating too many life experiences, people gain a practical wisdom that tells them life has limits, that mountains can be admired from afar but aren’t worth climbing. Dare I say, after too many life experiences, people can become jaded, perhaps even cynical. Dreams belong to idealists, to the young person who does not know enough to know that a goal is too hard to accomplish. Old men know better. Old men have been there, and done that. Old men know that it’s been tried before and it might not be worth trying again. (Dear friends, you can imagine this concept as gender neutral – just substitute “old people” for “old men”.)

But perhaps the best dreams are the dreams that the experienced person dreams – a Martin Luther King, Jr. who can say, ” I have a dream,” and imagine a future like one he personally has never experienced, a world that is better, a world where the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Such a leader can have a dream that extends beyond his own lifetime.

Young people can dream the dreams of their own plans – who they want to become, what they want to accomplish. Old men dream dreams for all – leading beyond what has been possible to what we should believe can happen. Old men know dreams are simply blueprints for work that must be done, first by them and then by the generations to follow. God knows that He is not finished with old men – or with any of us. He can entrust a new dream to a person of any age.

What are you dreaming about?


Christina M. H. Powell PhD

Dr. Christina M. H. Powell, PhD works in the pharmaceutical industry and is also an ordained Assemblies of God minister and public speaker. She trained as a biomedical research scientist at Harvard Medical School, Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry is from Penn State University.

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