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Dr. Jeff Bonzelaar

Dreaming & Recovery

By February 19, 20203 Comments

I’m not much of a dreamer—at least not that I remember. After I wake up, I have a hard enough time knowing what day it is or where I placed my phone the night before, let alone remembering what I adventures I might have had inside my head while sleeping.

That said, I find it interesting that according to Psalm 126:1, the very first effect God’s restoration has upon individuals is the ability to dream: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.” The Hebrew word for dreamed can mean “health, soundness, to be robust,” in addition to the more conventional understanding of “envisioning, imagining, and seeing possibility.” This word play suggests that there is a sort of interchange between health and dreaming . . . they feed each other. Dreaming has a positive impact upon health and vitality. At the same time, healthy, invigorated persons tend to dream more.

In simple terms, nothing like dreaming to give life. God-dreaming, that is.

And nothing like the absence of dreaming to suck the life out of a man or woman.

Addiction is caused and fueled by many things, but I suspect that dreaming (or the lack thereof)
is near the top of the list of why people get hooked on drugs and alcohol. Without a compelling
dream of a better tomorrow—hope dissipates. And when that happens, the will dies.

Destructive energy is all that remains.

The sage put it like this, “Where there is no vision (God-revelation), the people perish (lit., to be
unrestrained, run wild)” (Prov. 29:18). How many times have I heard an addict in explaining the
reason for his or her substance abuse say something like, “The tedium and monotony of life was
suffocating. I couldn’t see beyond the walls of my own seemingly insignificant existence. I saw
no point to it all. I lost confidence in the future.”

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist who survived the concentration camps of Nazi Germany,
made a significant discovery during his time as a prisoner. As he both observed others and
experienced personally the horrific, inhumane conditions of imprisonment, he became intrigued
with the question of what made it possible for some people to survive when the vast majority

He examined several factors—health, energy, family structure, intelligence, survival skills. He
surmised that none of these factors was primarily responsible. The single most significant factor,
he concluded, was a sense of future vision—the impelling conviction of those who were to
survive that they had an important mission to perform, some worthwhile task left to do.

Recovery is for a reason—so that we dream God’s dreams and join with him in his mission of
redemption and re-creation. In the process, we come alive.

So many of us have it all wrong. God does not save us so we can simply go to heaven after we
die—as if this life is just a “dress rehearsal” for the real show coming later. No, God recovers us
so that we can participate with him in exercising loving and just dominion over this earth. He
calls us to participate with him in a holy revolution by extending the borders of his good and
righteous rule right now, right here.

Understanding this is the stuff that will get a person out of bed, put an “umph” in a man or
woman’s walk, and keep an addict away from the drugs.

Jesus announced the good news about God’s kingdom—his government, his reign—a new social
reality marked by welcome, generosity, equality, forgiveness, truthfulness, goodness and purity.
A just and peaceable, nonviolent society. And he came to make this kingdom accessible to

Christ calls you and me to join with him in his work of righting wrongs, bringing equity, offering
hospitality to the marginalized, and establishing systems that promote wellness. This is the
gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, God’s dream!

I heartily agree with Christian sociologist Tony Campolo, “The tiredness of many people does
not come from physical exertion but from the meaninglessness of what they do. To work for no
higher goal than to get enough money to buy things that nobody really needs is not the sort of
thing that feeds the soul.” But then he adds, “It is in the vision of the kingdom of God (his
dream) and in God’s calling for us to help make it (his dream) happen that we find a resurrection
from deadness and a hope for glory.”

“Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”


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