I Dreamed a Dream

April 19, 2009

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living,
So different now from what it seemed…
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…
— from “I Dreamed a Dream”, Les Miserables

What was it about Susan Boyle’s performance (available at youtube) last week on “Britain’s Got Talent”, that captured the attention of the entire world?

Surely it was not just her vocal talent that has drawn over 60 million viewers to the various You Tube videos of her performance in a single week’s time. Although she did perform superbly, there are many other great singers in the world whose performances were not viewed 60 million times this week. Something else is behind the phenomenal interest in Ms. Boyle’s performance.

Neither was it the magnetism of her personality, nor her commanding stage presence, nor her appearance that has made her an overnight celebrity. Rather, she appeared unpolished and unsophisticated in demeanor. In fact she was quite ordinary.

That ordinariness was key to the impact of Susan’s story. People were drawn by the totally unexpected wonderfulness that emerged from such an ordinary person. Susan’s story is one of redemption, of sudden and unexpected victory in a seemingly impossible circumstance. Millions of people saw her stunning performance and were overcome with emotion and tears of inspiration and joy. Where did that emotion come from?

Most of us started our adult lives with dreams of becoming somebody, dreams of doing something significant, dreams of making a difference. Somewhere along the line, a lot of those dreams have died. As Susan’s song says, “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” We are a world full of broken dreams. Millions upon millions of us long for a turnaround in our lives. We are starved for redemption. We want to matter. We want Susan’s story to become our story. We want to be somebody.

We were meant to be somebody. We were created in the image of God. But we corrupted that image and fell to a hopelessly lost state. We became dead in our sins. But then God intervened:

Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
Eph 2:5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.

Though we were dead in sins — the ultimate impossible situation — God has made it possible for us to be redeemed. He has made us be somebody in Christ!

As Christians, we have a story so much bigger than Susan’s. Our cheering crowds are not in a studio audience. Instead they are that great crowd of witnesses, of faithful children of God from the past.

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Those witnesses are joined by thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, praising God for what He has done in our lives.

Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,

We will not be singing for the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Instead we will meet God, and will live with him in heaven forever:

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?”
Rev 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 7:15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

If the world only knew what God has done for us, our story would bring tears to their eyes, just as Susan’s story has. People would long for our story to be their story. Unfortunately even as Christians we don’t realize the magnitude of the story into which we’ve been invited. It has become too routine for us to really appreciate it. We are somebody, but we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten whose we are!

We need to understand better what God has done for us. Then we can really appreciate the greatest story ever told, a story into which we have been miraculously invited. And perhaps then more and more people will be drawn into that redemption story.

Editing to add: The Susan Boyle videos on YouTube have set an internet record for the most views in a week. That’s powerful evidence of the hunger of people worldwide for a story of redemption.


  1. With all due respect to James Martin, I think you have far more accurately and eloquently captured the reason for our fascination with Susan Boyle’s dream.

  2. Very well stated, Alan. Having recently entered into my 40’s, I can relate to that feeling that life has stolen that dream I dreamed. I’ve settled into the hum of life around me, blending in.Yet, God looks down and he sees a stand out, one who has embraced the gift of salvation he paid so dearly to offer us. He has exulted me above the masses, just as Britain’s Got Talent exulted Susan Boyle.If only I could remember more often.

  3. I’d be interested in hearing about the dream you dreamed that life has killed. I think that it would help to hear your story.

  4. Hey K.B., I’m not sure if you were addressing that to salguod or to me. I’d say that my dream is in the process of coming true in Christ. The verse of the song I quoted at the beginning of the article certainly doesn’t speak for me!

  5. Sorry about the ambiguity Alan. I really liked what you wrote but thought that you got theological instead of practical when you began to quote the scriptures (which I like btw).I think that the post might have been richer if you gave a few examples of some of your dreams that have been killed by life.. and how God has replaced them with new dreams.. if that makes any sense.Either way.. enjoyed the post.-Bob

  6. Alan, Facebook reminded me that I had shared this on this day back in 2009 and I came back to re-read it. Glad I did, very timely and just what I need to share with my family group tomorrow night.

    Hope all is well with your family.

    • Hi Salguod, great to hear from you again. All is well in our house. Retired and enjoying our six grandchildren! Hope you are well.

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