In the summer of 1896, twenty-five-year-old Orville Wright contracted typhoid fever. For several days he was in a near-death delirium. It would be an entire month before he could sit up in bed and several more weeks before he could get out of bed. And it may be the best thing that ever happened to him. Orville’s brother, Wilbur, had taken an intense interest in human flight. And with Orville bedridden, he had a captive audience. Wilbur read aloud to Orville, and that’s how the Wright brothers crossed paths with their lion.
Five-hundred-pound lions often hide within the pages of a book, just waiting for a dreamer to flip the page. Your dream may be one book, one page away.
Bishop Milton Wright had quite the library for the late nineteenth century. The bishop had a holy curiosity about all of life, but he had a particular fascination with the flight of birds, which explains an atypical title on a shelf, Animal Mechanism: a Treaties on Terrestrial and Aerial Locomotion. By the time Wilbur finished reading that book, he had discovered his destiny. The father’s fascination had become the brothers’ obsession.
On May 30, 1899, Wilbur wrote the most significant letter of his life, given the chain reaction it set in motion. He addressed the letter, written on Wright Cycle Company stationary, to the Smithsonian Institute, informing them that he had begun a systematic study of human flight. He asked for everything written on the subject, which wasn’t much. But one book, L’Empire de l’Air by French farmer, poet, and student of flight Louis Pierre Mouillard, was like “a prophet crying in the wilderness, exhorting the world to repent of its unbelief in the possibility of human flight.”
Exhorting the world to repent of its unbelief in the possibility of human flight.
I like that sentence, a lot.
It convicts me, challenges me.
What impossibility do you need to repent of?
It’s not just our sin that we need to repent of. It’s our small dreams. The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. Is He bigger than your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest mistake? Is He able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine?
A God-sized dream will always be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does, it cannot be done! But that’s how God gets the glory. If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. It also falls short of God’s glory by not giving Him an opportunity to show up and show off His power.
This is a call to repentance — repent of your small dreams and your small God. It’s also a dare — dare to go after a dream that is bigger than you are.
To an infinite God, all finites are equal. There is no big or small, easy or difficult, possible or impossible. When Jesus walked out of the tomb on the third day, the word impossible was deleted from our dictionary. So quit focusing on the five-hundred-pound lion. Fix your eyes on the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The impossible is an illusion.
The Wright Brothers had no education, no crowd funding, and no friends in high places. All they had was a dream, but that’s all it takes if it’s coupled with tenacious stick-to-it-iveness. Over and over again, the Wright brothers failed to fly, but they refused to give up. They learned from each and every failure until they defied gravity for twelve seconds at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903.
The impossible is temporary.
In the summer of 1896, human flight was science fiction. It’s now our daily reality. At any given moment on any given day, five thousand airplanes carrying a million passengers are flying through the troposphere at three hundred miles per hour. And it all started with a dream. It always does. Wilbur Wright repented of his own unbelief in the possibility of human flight, and the rest is history.
Don’t just read this.
Repent of unbelief in the possibility of your dream!
Watch Mark Batterson this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small. Copyright ©2016 by Mark Batterson. Published by Multnomah, a imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.