When people ask, “What are your dreams for the new year?” they are typically speaking of broad hopes or specific goals. Hopes and goals for a new year can be both inspiring and clarifying. They can help motivate us and serve as a filter for decisions. I have dreams and goals for the new year related to my role as a husband, father, and pastor. If I am wise, all the new dreams I envision and new goals I set will be grounded in an old dream.
While God’s people were in Babylonian captivity, Daniel interpreted a dream for the king of Babylon—Nebuchadnezzar. The king was perplexed by the large statue he saw in his dream.
Daniel explains to Nebuchadnezzar that the gold head is Babylon, a kingdom that will not last. Another kingdom will take over (the silver chest and arms), and Daniel’s interpretation occurs within his lifetime as the Persians conquer Babylon. The Persian kingdom too does not last, and many scholars believe the bronze represents the Greeks, led by Alexander the Great. But this kingdom does not last either as a fourth kingdom emerges—a strong one (made of iron), and many scholars believe this is the Roman kingdom, which too does not last and is divided into two feet. In the dream, a stone breaks off and shatters the statue. The clay, iron, bronze, silver, and gold become chaff, are carried away by the wind, and not a trace of them can be found. The stone that struck the statue filled the whole Earth because “the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).
We read this old dream through the lens of our Savior, Jesus, who entered our world and launched a Kingdom that is superior to all earthly kingdoms, an eternal Kingdom that fills the whole Earth where there will one day be no more tears, pain, or suffering as every square inch of creation will be made right and new. Jesus is the stone—the stone that the builders rejected who has become the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7). Jesus is the Cornerstone of those who trust Him, and He is the One who oversees the crushing of every other kingdom. The Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman kingdoms are no more. And the little kingdoms we build will cease to exist too; kingdoms of our fame, health, wealth, and reputations won’t last forever.
Which brings us back to goals and dreams for a new year. If we have dreams without Him at the center and set goals apart from Him, even the dreams that are realized and the goals that are reached become like chaff. Or as the line in the famous poem by C.T. Studd goes, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
As we set goals, we are wise to ask ourselves: Do I want this because I am in His Kingdom or because I want to build my own? We can long for good things for the wrong reasons, so we want our motivation to be His glory and not our own. A goal to get in better shape can be because of stewardship of the gift of a body God has given or vanity. A financial goal can be to enable greater generosity or greed. A family dream can be because we want to shepherd our family well or it can be because we find our identity in being approved by them.
When our dreams and goals are aligned to the King and His Kingdom that remain forever, we can pursue them with freedom and joy and even ambition, because our identity is not found in their fulfillment. We are already secure, already approved, and already at rest—because we have Him as our Cornerstone.