When We Neglect Our Field of Dreams

Do you dream big dreams?
Were you once someone who dreamed great dreams but now life has beaten you down to where even your dreams have withered from neglect?

When I was a houseparent just outside of Philadelphia, I had the privilege of knowing a chubby little eight-year-old named Eric. If you saw him on the streets, you would have thought him to be a normal, fidgety, baseball loving, puppy and worms little boy. But Eric had only known abuse and neglect for the whole of his short little life and his wounds already cut deep.

One spring evening after dinner, I stood at the kitchen sink of our group home washing dishes. Most of the children were gathered around the television but Eric had grabbed his baseball hat and run out to the field that I could see from the window.

As I watched, Eric played an imaginary game of ball. At first, I smiled at how normal it was to see a little boy imagining himself in a big game of baseball. He was several times at bat before I realized that what I was watching wasn’t normal at all.

Eric pretended to be at bat over and over again but never once did he pretend to make a hit that even got him as far as second base. Twice, he imagined he struck out. I observed with aching sadness as repeatedly, Eric only imagined himself getting as far as first base on a single hit and when he imagined the next plays, he always was tagged out long before rounding third base.

At eight-years-old, Eric couldn’t even pretend that he might get himself to second, never mind, hit a home run. In fact, he couldn’t even imagine being on a team that could get him all the way home.

We all face setbacks in life but some of us face such long, steady assaults of trouble and trial that we are as out of touch with big dreams as little Eric was. Home plate seems so far out of reach for some of us that even our fantasy leagues finish in last place.

These are the times when hope is a sacrifice. How much easier would it be to just give up even imagining that we are in the game?

As painful as it was to watch Eric, as I dried my hands, I looked over at the other boys, all lying listlessly on the sofas watching cartoons. These boys, most of them nearing their teens, had abandoned hope. So much so, that they didn’t even run out to the field.

They knew there would be no dad or big brother waiting out there to play catch. No mom cheering from the sidelines. No coach offering them instruction or asking them to “high-five.” For them, the hope it would take to run out to that field would be too painful, would cost them too much.

The Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4 had found a way to live without hope. She was so accustomed to having no hope that when Elijah asked her what she needed, she wouldn’t even make a request. And when he discovered her heart’s desire, a son, and told her she would have one within the year, she cried out in fear and panic. “Please, don’t mislead me!” In other words, “Please, don’t get my hopes up!”

Some children grow up in loving homes, well cared for and never having to wait too long for what they need. Others grow up with wants and needs so long untended they wonder what the point is in continuing to dream.I don’t know why it is this way but it is. Each of us has to live out our own story until all our stories merge with His.

But hope has a place in this life. For those of us whose hope is in Christ, it is a powerful witness to a hopeless world that we not abandon hope. In Isaiah 64:4, God says this, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

Jesus is more than we can ever imagine. To a people so broken we can’t even imagine ourselves rounding second base, God is a home run surprise in a league of His own.

Some of us have to wait for our dreams – longer than we could endure without the hope of Christ and the ministry of those like Elijah. Some of us, like Eric, are so damaged by the letdowns of life that hope can seem like a painful trick or like holding onto a cactus bouquet. We need to be sensitive when encouraging others to hope. And we should always direct people to place their hope in Christ alone.

I did make the boys get off the sofa that day and head out to the field. We organized a rag-tag game of baseball. We weren’t a very good team. I wasn’t anyone’s mom. No one there hit or caught very well. But we laughed together and afterwards, during evening devotions, I spoke with them about putting their hope in Jesus, because He would never leave them nor would He ever abuse their trust.

Where is your hope? What are your dreams? Are they home run dreams or or single base hopes? Take them out today, dust them off, try them on again like an old baseball mitt that just needs a little oil. Discuss them with Jesus and ask for renewed hope in Him.

Know that you are surrounded by a greater team than you could ever imagine rooting you on and cheering for you to finish well. Don’t abandon your field of dreams to the battering of the world. Hold onto your hope in Jesus and you may just knock one right out of the park.

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1 Comment

    The Conversation

  1. Heather says:

    Lori,

    I think this is one the best blogs of yours I have ever read. It hits home to many places in the heart!

    Heather