This is a biblical story that relates well to following your dream. It also addresses a very strong subject, but we have never been shy of that at I Will Tell. Those of you who are strong in heart, read on.
There was a young man called Amnon who had a beautiful half-sister and he loved her. Those were the days when men could marry their half-sisters so it was cool, or so you would think. He was a little overwhelmed by her. She was a virgin, the daughter of a king, one of these too-good-to-be-true women, so much so that he lost hope of ever having her as a wife. He must have also been pretty insecure himself, even though he was the son of a King. Or perhaps he thought he was too important to have to ask. So his friend Jonadab came up with a cunning plan to get Tamar to Amnon’s bedroom where Amnon raped her and then cruelly discarded her. In fact, after the attack he hated her more than he loved her before.
That’s a tough story, but someone actually lived this. Maybe, if you’re reading this, it’s also your story. Note that it isn’t the sexual encounter that makes this story so universal, it’s the abuse, the destruction of what was once beautiful, the disgrace and the shame.
What does that have to do with living the dream? I’m glad you asked. Imagine you have a dream and your dream is so good that someone else out there wants it more badly than they know how to say. So, they devise a plan, under the guise of Jonadab’s counsel (which means - wait for it - God is willing) and they abuse your good nature, sometimes even your good name and destroy your dream. What is worse is that the destroyers are usually not people who are evil. Amnon’s name actually means faithful, but because of his own insecurity he lost hope, so he destroyed by force what he would have been shared with him in love.
If you’re still with me, there are some key points about this story. Before Amnon attacked Tamar, she pleaded with him and said “You don’t need to do this. My father, the King would give me to you as a wife if you ask him.” And in case you doubt whether she was actually willing to marry him or just playing for time so she could escape, check out what happens after the attack. When he tries to get rid of her, she begs him to let her stay. “Sending me away”, she says, “is even more cruel than what you just did to me. Where will I go?” But now his lust was spent, he wanted nothing more to do with her so he instructed one of his servants to kick her out and bolt the door. She went away in disgrace and tears and we never hear of her again.
The thing about the Tamars of the world is that it’s rare that they get the comfort, sympathy or understanding they need. Someone is always willing to point the finger to say, “What were you doing in his bedroom in the first place?” She was following her father’s command actually. Or “Maybe it’s the clothes you were wearing?” Or “maybe it’s the way you spoke to him”. You know those folk who weren’t there and don’t have a clue but always know how you could have done things better? Sometimes, most beautiful Tamar, you do it to yourself.
And what about the Amnons of the world who are so keen to clear their good name that they quickly find someone willing enough to ‘get into bed with them’ whether it’s in a marriage or a business contract, just to prove that it was Tamar in the wrong and not their own lustful desires. Ouch, I know. We’re still talking about dreams now – don’t go off on a tangent.
So, the last point is this – we never hear of Tamar again. But that, my friend, at last, is the good news. I like to think that if the bible doesn’t tell you how a story ends, it’s because God wants you to create your own ending. And you have some help. One thing we do know is that much later Tamar’s brother killed Amnon for what he did to their sister. We are not advocating murder, now, but we know that, following the biblical story, Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross for all the Tamars of the world and He showed that the real enemy is not the people who come against them but the dark forces that don’t want their dreams to come to life. Those dreams, when they live, shine a light that pierces the darkness and are a force to be reckoned with.
I know, my dear Tamar, that you don’t feel like fighting anymore, but the thing is you already have the victory and now all that’s left is for you to choose. You can choose to be bitter and go into hiding or you can change your mourning clothes, embrace your newfound freedom, breathe, live and dream again. You are a new creation with more possibilities than you can fully experience in your own lifetime. It will take generations to live out your dream to its fullest and the kingdom of darkness is cowering at the thought of your resurgence.
So what are you waiting for? Start dreaming again today. Never let it be said of you or your dream, I wonder whatever happened to …?
Join us for the I Will Tell Film Festival – starting Thursday 30 August at the Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill and running for 11 nights with 40 films from around the world on the theme Live Your Dream, followed by post-screening discussions with the filmmakers and other experts. Come with us and Live Your Dream! www.iwilltell.com
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pastor Reggie Dabbs and the !Audacious conference for the insight into this story. Thank you Pastor Reggie.