We were born to dream. To long for something greater, something better, is engrained in our DNA. Most of us regularly access that part of who we are, even if all we have is a fantasy to hold on to. I bet as soon as you read the word dream you immediately have a picture of your ideal future in mind. God sees a picture too. I can’t promise that what you’re picturing is what God sees, but I can say with confidence that, as a believer, you have full access His dreams for you. You not only have access to see them, you have the ability to see them realized. The problem is that most of us don’t move past the picture we have in our minds. We keep the picture just out of grasp and use it as a tool to provide some sort of momentary relief from the daily grind. God’s design for dreams are not merely a coping mechanism. It’s the means by which we see what He sees.
The life of Abraham paints a beautiful and very real picture of a man in pursuit of the dream of God for his life and his story has been a constant source of inspiration, wisdom and caution to me as I chase after my own dreams. Before you keep reading I encourage you to dig a bit into his story if you haven’t already. You can hear his story in Genesis 15 from this week’s sermon here.
Let’s assume that if you are reading this, you have a dream in your heart that you want to see fulfilled. Let’s assume that you’ve been inspired by the story of Abraham and the promise God makes to do the impossible in your life.
Should we begin to try hard and make our dreams a reality? Should we sit back and relax until our dream walks through the front door?
I’ve tried both. Unfortunately, neither of those answers have completely worked for me thus far. Nor do they give us a complete picture of what it means to faithfully wait for what has been promised.
I’ve chased a lot of dreams and I have a lot more I’m running after. I’ve learned a few things along the way that I would like to suggest to you in your pursuit of the dream God has given you. My prayer is that these three strategies push you closer to our faithful Father as your dreams unfold.
- EXPOSE IT
TALK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS WITH GOD. Tell him every day about the desire in your heart. Why? Because time spent with Jesus draws your heart close to Jesus. If He is, in fact, the one who put this dream in your heart, that will only become more clear the more time you spend with Him. If it happened to be a dream you conjured up without Him, you’ll know that pretty quickly, too. I’m sure of it.
I’ve wasted lots of time chasing after things God never intended for me to have and those things were not-so-coincidentally the same things I chose to never pray about. As you converse with God, listen to what He has to say, ask for His wisdom, be raw and vulnerable about the things you long for. The truth is that we are going to desire things that are not His best for us. But the even bigger truth is that God will always offer something better than what we could imagine for ourselves. Don’t miss out on the greater thing because you’re afraid of things not going your way.
TALK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS WITH OTHERS. Not allthe others, but some of them. Expose your dream, don’t hide it. I used to pretend I was the most confident single person to ever walk the earth. “I’m so content.” “I don’t need to get married.” “I love my life so much.” Then I wondered why none of my friends had ever set me up with anyone. Maybe, just maybe, it was because I was too afraid of being vulnerable and saying what I really desired, so no one actually knew.
Now I make a practice of telling my inner circle about my dreams. Sure I’ve gotten the occasional eye roll, but through the process of being vulnerable with them I’ve found the people who fight alongside of me for God’s best in my life.
- MAP IT
Let’s get real practical here. There is nothing outside the realm of possibility with God (this is still mind-blowing to me), so He may choose to supernaturally deliver your dream life to you as you sleep soundly. I’ve grown to never question God when He chooses not to operate this way because for every dream that I’ve had to wait for, work for, pray for, and fight for, God has taught me something just as valuable as the dream itself. I cherish the process that He invited me to be a part of.
So instead of just asking God to make it all happen for you overnight, think about what you actually need to do to make the dream happen, then write it down. Write out all the specifics, all the landmarks, all steps you need to take. Maybe it will look like a check list, maybe it will look like a work of art, maybe it will literally look like a map! However it turns out, keep the map in front of you and start working on the things you’ve outlined. It doesn’t have to take you a week, or even a year to get it all done. It could even be a 25 year map! Say yes to His invitation to dream and remember that any step you take because you believe that God is going to fulfill your dream is FAITH IN ACTION!
- RISK IT
The tricky part about making a map is that you’re the one making the map. And, if you’re honest, the map probably looks pretty safe and for the most part achievable with a bit of hard work and patience. I think that the dreams God gives you can’t always be figured out with pen and paper (which will always be my preferred form of brainstorming). If those are the only dreams we have, we’re missing out on the unfathomable potential we have in Christ. There isn’t always a perfect strategy. The outcome is not always in your control. So as you create your map, make sure you are including landmarks and goals that are outside of your own limits, it will keep you dependent on Jesus to get you to the destination because you literally cannot do it without Him.
I struggle to write down goals when I can’t fully control whether or not they happen. That feels scary, like I’m setting myself up for failure. For me, the story of Abraham has brought a tremendous freedom to the fear of failure. I mean, come on, look at Abraham. The father of our faith. He made some MISTAKES along the way. But his faith (every action he took believing God would come through for Him) was counted as righteousness. If this is really true, then we don’t have to be scared of making mistakes, because God is not pleased when we get it perfectly right, He is pleased when we have faith! So go ahead, do it. Do something that scares you. Ask God for something that is completely impossible in your own strength and abilities. The reward will undoubtedly be great, because your reward isn’t just achieving your dreams, your reward is God Himself.
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
Go ahead. Chase your dreams.