One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
Being set in my ways at my age, can be a real killer in more ways than one. Having a sedentary life style, along with poor eating habits can, without doubt speeds up the aging process. Our body was meant to be exercised and baring any physical limitations we ought to keep it moving as best we can. Personally, I believe that physical exercise helps not only the body but also the mind and spirit. So, when I think of Lewis’ quote, I am reminded that even at my age I need to set a new goal and dream a new dream.
The Apostle Peter was challenged to set a new goal and dream a new dream when he was visited by the Lord via a vision to eat food that was, according to the Law of God (Cf. Leviticus 11) common or unclean. I am sure you have read the narrative found in Acts 10:9-16. Here we see the Lord challenge Peter’s life-long eating habits by telling him to eat things that were forbidden by the Law. To say that Peter was set in his ways would be an understatement and also a little misleading. Peter based his eating habits on the dietary laws found in the Old Testament Scriptures. And to change those eating habits, the Lord had to come to Peter in a vision.
Acts 10:9-16 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the six hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance (vision) and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
One Bible commentary says that visions are prominent in the Book of Acts, and that they are usually connected to prayer. Obviously, this is very true in Peter case, as he went up on a rooftop in order to spend some time alone with the Lord. As we read the end of Acts 9, we realize that God was setting Peter up for gigantic life changing, life altering moment. He would soon be on a mission to reach the Gentiles for Jesus Christ. But in order for God to use Peter, He had to change his thinking concerning certain dietary restrictions that he grew up with. As we read chapter ten of Acts we get the impression that Peter is struggling to get his head wrapped around the idea of killing and eating unclean wildlife. One would think that if God told us to eat something that once had a restriction on, if He commands it, we need to do what He says—right? After all, He is God and God is to be obeyed. But Peter does the exact opposite. He says to the Lord, “Not so, Lord!” The exclamation point gives us the idea that Peter is yelling at God, that he is a little upset at what God wants him to do. Putting this scenario in modern phraseology, “Are you kidding me Lord! I’m not going to do this!” Peter was pretty set in his ways and in all fairness, he had the dietary laws found in the Old Testament to back him up. But in the words of Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changin’.”
Like the Apostle Paul, God was going to use Peter to reach out to the Gentiles with the gospel. Through a series of events Peter would meet Cornelius whom God had also visited through a vision from an angel. Cornelius listened to the angel of God in terror as he gave him a command to be carried out immediately. And as soon as the angel was gone Cornelius carried out that command without any hesitation.
As Cornelius sends out two of his household servants to get in contact with Peter, Peter is having his vision of foul food. By the end of Acts chapter ten, we realize that God had something new for both Cornelius and Peter to experience, something new to do. In Acts 10:34, we see Peter has a new outlook concerning the Gentiles and how God wants them to have a new relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. “Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.” Thus, we see that the God of the Bible extends the message of Christ not only to His favored people but to all people groups of the world.
DARE TO DO SOMETHING NEW—In order for the world to receive the message of Jesus Christ, Jewish Christians had to be open for change, open to try something new, try to do something new. Old dietary laws had to be set aside, ideas concerning who would receive the gospel had to change, realizing that the gospel was meant for everyone. We too need to be open to doing something new. And as C.S. Lewis said so long ago, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
So what are your goals and dreams for the foreseeable future? Speaking as a semi-retired person, I like setting new goals and I really like dreaming a new dream. I know my limitation, but I rarely think about them. Rather, I try to look at what is possible with what I have at the moment. And yes, I am a dreamer. I dream of what is possible for me if I am open to God’s leading. And when it comes to goalsetting, I set not only mental and physical goals but spiritual ones too. My biggest new goal is more Bible memory verses. At my age I struggle to remember where I laid my glasses down (usually they are on my head) or worse, I walk around the house without them on and wonder all the time why I’m not seeing things as clearly as I usually do. So, you can understand that Bible memory is a real big challenge for me. Yet my dream can turn into a reality if I am willing to make it a goal to accomplish.
What are your dreams and goals? What are you daring yourself to do next? It can be a physical or mental, or even a spiritual goal. What matter is that you realize that you are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you joy in Jesus!