Of Dreams and Ideals

“Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim, nor his natural visor diminished.” Deut 34:7

This was the description of Moses just prior to his death. Moses did not die of old age. He died simply because he had accomplished all that God had for him to do and it was time for him to return to his Creator. There’s no better way to die than this.

The description given of Moses was not mere adjectives of his condition and state but they were consequential statements of who he was even at the end of his life. What it means is that because his vision was not dimmed, therefore his strength remained unabated, even at the age of 120. To put it simply, Moses never lost his ideals and therefore neither did he lose strength. The vision and encounter with God that captured him at the burning bush remained a burning flame in his life right through to this very point of his life.

When I was young, I used to often share my ideals with my father and told him often how I wanted to do something extraordinary with my life. I didn’t want to live a life like everyone else around me but I wanted to make a difference in this world. My father would always douse my enthusiasm, citing my youthfulness as the cause of such dizzy dreams, and that all these would come to naught once I grew a little older and experienced the harsh reality of the real world and life.

He assured me that my present state was illusionary and only infected the young, and that dreams never put food on the table. Even then, I felt an overpowering need to prove him wrong. Perhaps it was the obstinacy of my nature or perhaps it was because I felt life wouldn’t be worth living without lofty ideals that we strived for and achieved somehow.

Having now lived over 40 years of my life, I can’t call myself a youth any more. Life has taken many unexpected turns. Mistakes, misfortune, loss and disappointments – all these have piled up with the passage of months and years. I look back and realise how naive and simplistic I’ve been in the past, but the one thing I’ve continued to believe and am more convinced than ever before, is that dreams and ideals are well worth laying one’s life down to pursue after. In fact, while I’ve seen the bad and ugly often enough in what life dishes out, it’s the good that have left the most lasting impressions in my life. I’ve witnessed and experienced the miracles of God keeping and preserving me in His call, and leading me to a place of fulfillment. What I’ve learnt is this: never compromise on your dreams and ideals.

When dreams and ideals die in a person, you lose the vitality and joy of life itself. Life becomes a drudgery of existence and your purpose for being alive is lost. Cynics are lapsed idealists. They start out as does everyone else – with lofty dreams and ideals. But life sends obstacles, disappointments, betrayals and an array of mishaps along their paths and they become overwhelmed by them. Instead of having belief and the persistence to find another way around the obstacles, they stop in their tracks. They allow their ideals to die in order to accommodate the fact that they’ve given up.

If there’s someone who should be disillusioned and disappointed, then surely Moses had enough reasons to be so. He performed countless miracles before the Children of Israel and yet their complaining and unbelief continued incessantly. He led the nation for 40 years in the wilderness and in the end, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. Of the original group that he led out of Egypt, only two made it into the destination they had started out towards. His very own brother and sister turned against him even though he gave them position and ministry. He gave them laws, and they broke them. He gave them manna, and they wanted meat. Surely, Moses had every right to give up hope on humanity and count it hopeless trying to make a difference.

Yet he never gave up. He never stopped believing. He never became bitter, and neither did he give in to despair. As a result, his vision was never dimmed and as such his vigor and strength stayed with him. Jesus Himself was hung on the cross by the very people He came to save. He was betrayed by the very ones He loved and served without reservation. Yet He never gave up nor gave in, and resurrection resulted and He lives forevermore.

Let’s keep our vision clear, and let our strength never be weakened.

Pastor Lim Lip Yong

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