Humans. They’ve got pockets full of dreams. Heavy and bulging, ready to burst, the pockets strain with human imagination and desire. Fabric stretches and seams tear. Some dreams remain with the passing of time. Others are retrieved, inspected and tossed into the endless sea that holds all of the Earth’s memories.
Dreams can be realized. Dreams can be forgotten. Dreams can die in the ground.
Where exactly do these wily things come from? It is odd to think how a person stumbles upon a dream, some random thought, that may be with them for an entire lifetime. Like spiritual burrows they stick to humans. Sleeping, eating, walking, running and any other kind of activity cannot shake the burrows. Our dreams.
I’ve heard that dreams are from God. Again, I must mention that there is much debate about whether or not humans have free will. In the Bible you can find stories of people who had their hearts hardened by God. God controlled whether or not someone obeyed him or refused to listen. It strikes you as unfair, I imagine, because God should not judge someone if she had no say in the decision. She had no choice but to do exactly what God wanted…in some cases in the Bible these actions were directly against God. For example in the book of Exodus God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so he would not let the Israelites leave their enslavement.
God is terrible, isn’t he? How could he blame Pharaoh for his actions if Pharaoh had no say in them?
God is love (1 John 4:16). He is everything that is good (Galatians 5:22-23, Psalm 23:6). In him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). We cannot understand everything in the Bible, but we can trust God has control over our lives. He does nothing out of malice or with sinful motives. God is for us. All throughout the Bible God is just trying to gather his beloved and take care of them and live in harmony with them. It is human rebellion that dampens the words printed on those pages. God approaches us in love and our natural reaction is to flee from him.
I had a professor who bemoaned the idea that a higher power is in complete control over our lives. Like destiny and fate rule us and there is no way to steer from the path. Like sheep to the slaughter. It angered him to think humans have no control. His thoughts strike many chords so let’s look at them.
God is in control of everything. He is omniscient, he created everything, he works everything out to his own ends (Proverbs 16:4), he is full of glory, wisdom, goodness and power. If you want just a small taste of God’s wonder then read Job 38-42. In this text you are reading mostly words spoken by God directly to Job. God makes himself known.
“Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’ You (God) asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.’” Job 42:1-3
Having plans for your life or having dreams in your life can be one in the same. Job is an important story because it shows a man who had everything to make him content: a wife, children, servants, wealth, good health, food, good reputation and friends. All of that was taken from him and Job went into a dark place beyond words. I think Job spoke so much because his pain drove him. He tried using words to encapsulate his suffering, but words failed to accomplish this task.
Job learned many things, but one lesson in particular is that God does what he does. God is not evil. We may not understand what he is doing, but God works everything out according to his will. He is not messing with people or wrecking their lives out of boredom. We look at events and situations and call them disasters or tragedies, but is that really what they are? God restored Job’s life and gave him so much more than what he previously had. God blessed Job beyond bearing. Job’s cup poured over (Psalm 23:5).
Those funky New Testament writers can be kind of irritating when they say to celebrate suffering, persecution and troubles. But see they are correct. Because of Jesus we always have joy and nothing can separate us from him so our joy cannot be removed from us (Romans 8:37-39). Paul celebrated weaknesses and troubles because he knew that in those difficult situations God shows his strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Peter said that in awful circumstances we should be glad because we are bearing Christ’s name (1 Peter 4:12-13). God tests us. He disciplines us and teaches us (Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:10-11). He is refining us so that we will become like his son Jesus (Ephesians 4:15). Paul counted everything a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:8).
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
I heard a warning once that stagnation is dangerous. If you are not suffering for Christ then this question blossoms into being: do you belong to Christ? Those who belong to Christ are changed. Faith requires works. If you have no works then where is your faith?
“Smoke don’t rise if you don’t burn.”
How can God live through you if you do not live? If you stayed inside all day how could God bless your life or bless other people through you? Imagine if Moses had seen the burning bush and walked away. Imagine if Paul had heard Jesus’s voice, been blinded for three days and then still turned from God? Imagine if any of the twelve disciples had been called by Jesus only to respond with blank stares. Imagine if Abraham hadn’t cared for the angels when he saw them passing by.
All of these miraculous stories have common strands that hold them together. One of those strands is WORKS. If you want to see Jesus in your life then you have to get up and go do something. If you do not know what to do exactly then just pick some things you enjoy or want to learn about. Get involved with your church. Volunteer somewhere. Travel. Donate old clothes or books or toys. Set some personal goals and give them to God. Exercising, reading, writing, art or anything. Go out and meet some people. Push yourself out of what is familiar and comfortable.
I too am weak and refrain from doing things I’m not used to or that intimidate me, but God says we must live for him. He says not to worry (Matthew 6:34), to give him all our anxiety (1 Peter 5:7) and to trust him. God sent his son for us. Know that God loves us so much he petitioned his son to suffering and death. Surely he will be right by our side all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6). All of our problems, joys, celebrations, desires and plans are not too big for Jesus.
His blood has covered us.
So what of desires and plans and dreams? Where do those things come from?
“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” Psalm 33:13-15
God forms our hearts and I believe also our dreams since he created us exactly as we are. He knew us before the earth was formed. He knows us through and through.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
Whatever dreams you have surrender them to Jesus. Let the motivations of your heart be for God’s will: helping people, spreading the Gospel, teaching God’s word, healing others, showing love and kindness to others, encouraging others, performing miracles, exercising wisdom and knowledge, prophesying, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues and distinguishing between spirits (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list spiritual gifts).
Everyone who is in Christ has the potential for greatness, but we must be brave to step out. Do not fantasize about what your life could be like. Do not imagine this ideal version of yourself and then do nothing. God has the power to do great things in every way. If you set your heart ony way. If you set your heart toince he created us exactly as we are. He knew us before the earth was formed God’s will and then pursue your dreams with him in consideration you will see wonderful things take place.
As my friend recently said, “Don’t anticipate, participate.” When you participate in God’s plans for your life amazing things happen. Inevitably, the world shakes because you moved.
“You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. You came to greet him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked you for life, and you gave it to him– length of days, for ever and ever. Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.” Psalm 21:2-7
This Psalm seems to be for King David, but no matter which king it is know that he was blessed because he trusted God. He lived for God and God poured out his goodness on the king’s life. It doesn’t take a king to receive these wonderful blessings. It takes a son or daughter one of those destined for inheritance shared with Jesus.
More verses on desire:
“The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.” Proverbs 11:23
“The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” Isaiah 26:7-9
“What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:24-25
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ” Psalm 73:25-26
“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry…” Psalm 10:17
“‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” Matthew 6:19-21
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:3-7
These long-dead people have wisdom that is very much alive. Let God judge all men. Your hard work for the Lord is noticed by him and you are storing up for yourself treasures in Heaven. God is with us. He cares for us. He never abandons us. He is good.
Do not count yourself out of God’s blessings for you. Dreams and blessings are waiting, patiently, in a stasis. They’re waiting for the breath of life. Breathe them into being. Let God charge your life with wonder, fulfillment and beauty. You can have all of these things. Do not live in fear. Scripture has a resounding cry…listen to God…really pay attention to how many times in the Bible he says, “Do not be afraid.” Let that saying be tattooed on your heart. If you live for God and seek his will then do not be afraid. God cannot fail.
Now get up and move. Set a new world into motion.