Dreamers are wonderful. We should have far more dreams and hopes and “crazy ideas”. We need dreamers in the world – in fact it’s really only in the last year that God’s taught me to conceive of the unthinkable and begin approaching it as a realistic “dream”. When God’s giving the vision, nothing can get in the way of a wild dream.
BUT…(dun dun dun, the dreading “BUT”) sometimes a person can dream, and dream and dream…and years down the road not much has happened. It’s either always a new and exciting dream because the last didn’t work out, or it just stays a dream and a 35 year-old dude is still living at home expectantly waiting for the dream to fall in his lap.
Lately, I’ve been contemplating the idea of being faithful with what is in your hands. I believe you can perpetually dream of having a huge forest while neglecting to plant the tiny little seed you have, watering it daily, giving it sunshine, and watching it grow into the first plant.
To throw our culture under the bus as we love to do, “kids these days” truly do want it all now without the effort and sacrifice it takes to get the dream. We know our God is big, so we just hope we’ll wake up one day, walk out our door and find ourselves in the forest. No doubt could he answer that prayer Narnia-style and take you from a bedroom to a magical forest in a second.
BUT. I think He rarely uses that method for a few good reasons:
1) The dream will not fulfill you. This weekend at church my pastor mentioned what many of us already know, but have trouble wrapping our minds around – that even the dream fulfilled will leave us longing for more. People get married and find themselves disappointed or cheating because they “chose wrong” and now they’ve found their soul mate. Or they finally get that dream acting role and it turns out their life feels the same once the premiere ends and the cameras turn off.
Even for me, with a dream that meant serving God by serving the poor and marginalized in my city and “giving everything to God!”…I finally achieved full-time status as a missionary with Broken Hearts and thought, “Hmm, so this is it, huh? It’s really, really great, all I dreamed of in fact! But, I don’t feel like I’ve arrived.”
I’ve never been so fulfilled in my life and God’s given me bigger dreams for this organization and city. But the only thing that really does it for me is being close to God, hearing his voice regularly (which is usually easier when things are hard), and knowing I’m walking in faithfulness.
2) Being prepared to handle the dream. If an actor went from an extra in a commercial to a lead role in the most popular new movie, how would they truly handle the fame, the time commitment, the money, or even have the wisdom to accurately portray so many emotions and grip an audience? Rarely does that happen, and probably not well.
I personally have dreamed of a building for Broken Hearts, a permanent refuge for our friends on the street where so many life-transforming activities, prayer, and community could happen. But we’ve realized that without proper preparation, funding, trained staff and volunteer base, we’d lose the building almost immediately because of no capacity to sustain it. We have to start with what is in our hands – our resources, churches, homes, time – to serve in the smallest ways so they can be expanded into the much bigger ways healthily.
3) Waiting – Could it be that the waiting period is actually what God is more concerned with? That’s what another sermon I heard this weekend was about. A pastor who regularly preaches about dreams, trusting God for promises, and clinging to that hope, challenged the church that there’s more to it. God has big purposes for us to fulfill, but the waiting is where we’re shaped, molded, grown, and our character and faithfulness is tested and developed. That perhaps waiting is the point of the dream in the first point.
That’s where we draw closer to Christ and become more like Him. And isn’t that the point of this all? If we can’t glorify him in the waiting, how will we in the achieving of a dream?
It’s easier to dream. It’s more fun to dream. Kind of like it’s easier and more fun to have lots of money and comforts and leisure. But what I’ve been pondering lately is that it’s usually the reality of having little, depending on God, and being faithful when it’s hard, is actually a much happier place. When you really go deep with God in utter dependence and praise when things are hard, it’s so much more fulfilling than the constant distraction of ease and having every desire fulfilled. This is not Western mentality, it makes no sense unless you experience it. It feels good to have the stuff, but as Christians we should know that is not what we are living for, not our reward, and should never fully satisfy us.
After reading a missionary biography from a girl in Africa so happy in the midst of so much difficulty, it reminded me of this. I thought about the excess I have and spend in contrast, always wanting to meet every need yesterday and thinking I deserve it, yet never hopelessly dependent on my God to show up and work miracles. I’m missing something when I spend unnecessarily and indulge in every desire rather than sacrifice and avoid temptation and ask God to provide.
That’s my new resolution. What has God given me now, how am I using it, and what could I be sacrificing to be more generous and dependent on God to show up? Then I know if and when he decides to give me more, I can handle it well and not be swayed from intimacy with him for the lure of the pleasures of this world. I want to get scraped up, worn out, tried and tested, and know that “by my God I can leap a wall.” Because I don’t just want to be content. I want the happiness of intimacy with Jesus. I want to be fulfilled.