I’m sure you’ve heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

There’s a lot of truth to that. When there is a duty to be done, a situation needing help or a hurt needing kindness, a mountain of warm thoughts can never substitute for a single action.  Deeds, not dreams, are what’s needed at such times.

But there’s another side to this matter; there are times when good intentions count a great deal. Buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles is this statement God made to King David, “Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart.”

David didn’t build the temple; his son Solomon did. But David wanted to build it. During the reign of Queen Mary, the French city of Calais, which had been under British rule, was retaken by the French. There’s a story that says afterward, Queen Mary told her ministers that when she died, they would find the name Calais engraved on her heart.

Had we been able to examine David’s heart, we would have found a picture of the temple engraved on it. And God praised him for his intention, even though it was never realized.

A large part of the bitterness of human life lies not its brevity but in its incompleteness. The brevity of life is bitter as it contributes to incompleteness; incompleteness is the real tragedy. But incompleteness marks nearly every life; virtually everyone dies with unfinished business — which is a harsh reality to accept.

But even though we don’t check off everything on our bucket list, it’s still good to have a bucket list. For dreams, even unattained ones, have the power to lift and carry us farther than had we never dreamed at all.

Not only can our dreams thus bless us, they can also bless those who come after us. Solomon, not David, built the temple, but it’s doubtful Solomon could have done this had David not collected the material for its building (including tons and tons of gold and silver). The dream of the father became the deed of the son. It was not for nothing that David cherished in his heart the desire to build the temple.

The first man ever convicted of and executed for treason in American history was a fervid abolitionist who dedicated his life to eradicating every vestige of slavery. He never realized this dream; in fact, he was hanged for staging a failed raid upon a federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, Va.

But others who came after him caught his vision. And as they marched off to battle for an end to slavery they sang, “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.”

The dreamer was gone, but his dream wasn’t. Others who came after him achieved what he couldn’t.

It’s always a good thing to have noble intentions in our heart.

Kenny Chumbley, a lifelong resident of Rantoul, is a minister, author and  publisher.