CHAPTER 10

 

YOU HAVE A DREAM

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”

(Prov 13:12 NLT)

God gave Joseph a dream (Gen 37:5). Just like Joseph, you too have a dream. Your life holds the promise of a remarkable adventure. All you have to do is to follow the script already written on your heart (Eph 2:10; Mark 13:34)!

Nothing about you is ordinary. You weren’t born for the mundane. You weren’t born to live a safe, comfortable, mediocre life. You were born for great things, far greater than you ever could’ve imagined!

 

WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE?

What exactly makes you come alive? Are you excited about your life? Are you truly enjoying your life? Are you living with a bounce in your step, a smile on your face, and a twinkle in your eyes?

You know, we live in a world so full of pretence. And so often we get caught up in that system. We pretend to know it all, or to have it all under control. We pretend to like many things we don’t really like. We lose our individuality to become clones of people we admire. We pretend to live our dreams. We pretend – to please people. We pretend – to be “in”. We pretend – to be accepted. Isn’t that utterly senseless? And in all that pretence we push our hearts aside, run in the opposite direction, and settle for hollow lives. Why?

Maybe we run because, if we run away far enough, we’ll eventually forget what it is that we’re trying to run away from. Maybe we run because we’re afraid to face our real dreams. Maybe we run because we secretly fear failure. Maybe we run because we’re scared that people will belittle our dreams. Maybe we run because of bad past experiences. Maybe we run because nobody challenged that road before. But no matter how fast we run, the staggering reality is that all we want is to be real. All we want is for our lives to become an expression of our true passion!

Well, shouldn’t we just relax and be, instead of trying to be or to impress?

The sad fact is that often we have this perception that once we get to know God we’ll have to let go of our dreams and embrace boredom. We may think that once God steps into the scene the adventure has to stop. And that’s not true. God has the biggest sense of adventure and passion that you’ll ever come across. Take a good look at His entire creation and you’ll see a wildly adventurous, extremely creative, absolutely passionate, and totally daring heart behind it all!

When you get yourself into the presence of God, He will set you free from pretentious living. Listen, God has no intention to tame your heart! He will help you to discover, or to re-discover, the true desire of your heart. He will help you to become the true you. So become the authentic individual God created you to be. Become excited about your life. Discover your dream. Why live out the opinions of others?

God wants you alive. He gave you a dream through which you can become fully alive. He gave you a dream through which you can enjoy your time on this planet. He gave you a dream through which you can bless people and expand His Kingdom on earth.

You were born with a gift to benefit mankind!

You have no idea how your dream, even though it seems small right now, can influence, help, or encourage other people. You have no idea how many people you can inspire through your songs, or how many job opportunities your dream can create, or how many families your dream can feed, or how many people your dream can heal. Whatever your dream, you can never settle for almost living it. God wants you to take the plunge and go for it.

But how will I know my dream is from God? How will I know the will of God for my life? Well, what do you want? What’s in your heart?

God is not going to force you into a life that you have absolutely no desire for. He created you with a passion for something that will bring you great joy and fulfilment. He equipped you with exactly the right personality and the right gifts to do whatever it is you were born to do. You already have everything inside of you to make it happen (Rom 11:29)!

 

PLAN TO PURSUE

“A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.”

(Prov 13:19 NKJV)

You may discover your dream at a young age or you may have to travel quite a few roads before you find the true passion of your heart. Once you know what you really want settle that “should I” or “could I” debate and stop questioning the will of God.

Tell yourself that this is it. Make life-strategy changes. Identify people whose lives truly inspire you, and learn from them. Commit yourself to your dream with one heart and one mind. Set definite goals and follow them through to the end. Get rid of every weight (cares, fears, worries, feelings of self-doubt, inferiority, or inadequacy) and sin (especially unbelief) that slows you down (Heb 12:1). Don’t fall for distractions, good or bad, but keep focus. Stick to the plan. And learn when to say yes and when to say no!

It’s not a challenge to say no to “bad” things, but it’s often a challenge to say no to good things. And doing too many good things will leave you too drained to focus on your own dream. That’s not good. So don’t feel bad if you put up some boundaries. You give people the right to treat you as they do. Now, if you set certain boundaries some may not like it but eventually they’ll have to learn to respect your life.

Yes, you should focus on your dream but also learn to balance your life. What’s the sense in rushing around all day with no time left to spend with those you love, with no time left to really enjoy the gift and beauty of life? And make time to be with yourself. Get to know yourself. Spoil yourself. Invest in yourself. If you don’t have time, simplify your life. That’s a very spiritual thing to do. God’s not much impressed with “dead” people running. He’s not impressed if we never stop to watch a sunset or take time to enjoy His beautiful creation. Besides, what drives you? Is it greed, or a need for power, or a need to be accepted, or the fear of failure, or the fear of being a “nobody” in the eyes of the world?

“I have no time” is not a modern day dilemma. Satan designed that strategy thousands of years ago. Remember Moses and the people in Egypt? When Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go so that they could spend time in the presence of God, Pharaoh refused bluntly. Instead, he loaded the people down with extra work to make sure that they wouldn’t find the time (Ex 5:1-11). A simple but effective strategy, isn’t it? The world system is designed to keep you so busy that you won’t find time to spend in the presence of God, or with yourself, or with those you love.

I have no time. I have no time to give, to share, to laugh, to live, to love, or to rest; these phrases should be banned from our vocabulary.

 

A SMOOTH ROAD? NO!

“We a repressed one very side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandoned us. We get knocked down, but we getup again and keep going.”

(2 Cor 4:8-9 NLT)

The cost of pursuing your dream will include absolute commitment, courage, patience, perseverance, and the loss of comfort. It will often be a lonely road. And it will take the good fight of faith every step of the way!

Just before Joshua entered into the Land of Promise, God told him three times: be strong and very courageous (Josh 1:1-9). Be strong in what – your own strength, your own wisdom, or your own efforts? No. Learn to find your strength in God (Isa 40:31). Learn to depend on Him (James 4:10) Become strong in His Word, strong in His promises, strong in His faithfulness, strong in His love, and strong in His grace. God needed Joshua to be strong in Him because He knew the journey was not going to be a bed of roses.

No question about it, you will encounter obstacles that will cause moments of frustration and discouragement. You will often wonder, am I ever going to make it, am I still on the right route, is God still with me, isn’t my dream just a fiction of my imagination, did I ever hear God?

The road ahead will often look dark, mysterious, and totally unpredictable. There will be obstacles you never anticipated. Things will happen that you never asked for. There will be times of unexpected surprises. There will be times of severe delay. There will be times when you feel unappreciated, left behind, misunderstood or rejected. There will be times when God seems silent, or gone. There will be times of betrayal. There will be times of temporary failure. There will be times when your dream will seem to go in exactly the opposite direction. There will be times when absolutely nothing seems to be happening. There will be times when you feel like running to everyone for advice, and sometimes their well-meaning advice will lead you away from your dream, instead of towards it.

The opportunities to quit will follow you like a desert storm. But don’t quit. Don’t quit even if you end up being the only one left that still believes in your dream. Don’t let fear cause you to lose confidence in what God promised you. Never lower your sense of expectation. Stubbornly stay with your dream until it comes to pass, never mind how long the delay.

Of course this is all easier said than done, but you have no choice. You’ll have to persevere. If you give up your dream, you’ll give up your life. So make a firm decision that you’re going to believe God, no matter what. Believe that God directs your steps, however odd those steps might be at times. Believe that God is overseeing your journey, and that He is faithful to get you where you need to be at the perfect time!

 

AGAINST ALL ODDS

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’”

(Mark 9:23 NKJV)

If God backs you, laugh at the impossible!

Talk about beating the odds. Jonathan and his armour bearer went into battle against an army of three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and thousands of warriors. Two men against the enemy, and only Jonathan had a sword. But, God gave them victory. He simply sent an earthquake to scare the Philistines and in great confusion they started killing each other (1 Sam 13:19-22; 14:1-23). See that happening to the enemy that tries to come against you!

We should never underestimate the greatness of our God. He is invincible in battle. If God is with you, who or what can be against you? If you follow Him He will make you a symbol and source of blessing. He will make you glorious. He will give you a name of distinction. He will give you the desires of your heart. He will bring you into your Promised Land. He will give you great victories!

Joseph held fast to his dreams, even after everything turned in completely the opposite direction. Yet Joseph never gave up hope and, after years, he finally lived in the reality of his childhood dream (Gen 37:1- 28; 39-47). Jesus knew what He was called to do at the age of twelve, but He had to wait almost 18 years for the appointed time (Heb 12:2).

“When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they start down the wrong road and discover their mistake, don’t they turn back?”

(Jer 8:4 NLT)

Now some of us, or most of us, can identify with Moses (Ex 2:11-15; 3:1-10). We made wrong decisions that caused our dreams to blow up in our faces. The shame of our failure drove us into hiding, feeling bitter, confused, and utterly disappointed. And so we settled for a rather pointless life far removed from the once well-known burning vision in our hearts.

But suddenly, on a day that seemed no different from the day before, God came and caught our attention again. Instead of condemning us or reminding us of all our mistakes, He redirected our focus to the future and simply said, “Get up. It’s time to make your dream come true. Don’t hide anymore, forget the past, you’re still going to do what you know you were meant to do, you’re still going to have what I promised you. This is a new day, and I am with you. I will support you, strengthen you, and guide you into a future that will exceed all your hopes, thoughts, prayers, or dreams!”

Moses went into hiding, but God knew exactly where to find him. Yes, Moses failed. Yes, he made mistakes. Yes, he lost confidence in himself. Yes, he lost confidence in God. And yes, he had a dream that seemed dead and gone. But that was not the way God saw it. God still had a tight grip on His plan. Of course He knew Moses would mess up but failure is not fatal. God knows the end from the beginning. Is He not the master planner? Is He not the designer of your destiny (Eph 2:10)? Is He not the mover and shaker of events in your life (Isa 46:10; 48:3)? Nothing catches Him off- guard!

So let this comfort you: You may have lost confidence in your dream or in yourself, or you may have wandered off the track, but God loves you too much to let you slip away forever. He knows where you are and He’ll always find a way to get your attention again. Thank God it’s never too late. You can always get up again. Just go back to your dream and pick it up where you left it. You don’t ever have to settle for a hollow life.

Sometimes we don’t give God all the credit that He deserves. Even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful to us. God is more committed to your dream than what you are. He believes in you more than you believe in yourself. He knows you can make it. And He will do all He can to get you to the life He promised you!

 

WRITE DOWN YOUR DREAM

“Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that the runner can read it and tell everyone else. But these things I plan won’t happen right away.

Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

(Hab 2:2 NLT)

Keep a journal of everything that God is telling you or showing you. Write down your promises. Write down the words God speaks directly into your spirit. Write down your dreams. Write down your visions. Put up pictures if you have to. And do it by faith, not by reason.

You see, when you spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit, it’s so easy to be bold and secure. You’re so sure of your dream, of what you should do, of how you should do it, of where you are going in life. You feel so strong and invincible and ready to conquer the world. But once you step out into the real world, things are often exactly the opposite. Circumstances don’t always line up with what you saw. And not all people are supportive or excited about your dream.

By writing down whatever the Holy Spirit is telling you or showing you you’ll keep your vision alive. If you do that you won’t forget it or abandon it halfway when all hell breaks loose around you.

“Enlarge your house; build an addition; spread out your home! For you will soon be bursting at the seams.”

(Isa 54:2-3 NLT)

If God promised you something go out there and make room for it. Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Some of it might not make sense but nevertheless its little steps of faith in order to prepare you for what’s coming your way.

The Holy Spirit might tell you to sort out a bad attitude. He might tell you to treat your spouse with love and kindness. He might tell you to sort out issues toward your family. He might tell you to give something to someone in need. He might tell you to keep quiet for a while. He might tell you to check your love walk. He might tell you to go look for a house. Now don’t go into debt, shop with your eyes until you have the finances to pay for it. He might tell you to start preparing a room for a baby. He might tell you to draw up a business plan. If you trust God for legs He might tell you to go and buy some shoes. If you trust God for the salvation of a friend, or a loved one, He might tell you to treat them as if they are saved.

Make a decision to do whatever the Holy Spirit prompts you to do, regardless of how insignificant or downright insane it sounds. Yes, you’ll look silly to some people, but who cares, you’re operating by faith, remember.

 

PROTECT YOUR DREAM

“And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.”

(Gen 37:8 NKJV)

A word of wisdom: protect your dream. Make sure you share your dreams with the right people at the right time!

Satan can sense when God is up to something in your life and he’ll try to kill it, especially through people. That’s why you cannot share your heart with all people. There will be times when God will tell you to keep quiet. No, you cannot confide in everyone who wants to listen. With some people it is better not to say anything at all. To some you can only share your heart on a limited need-to-know basis. Not all people are ready to understand, or to receive, what God has revealed to your heart.

Joseph talked too soon and his brothers hated him for sharing his dream (Gen 37:5-11). Samson had the unique ability to confide in the wrong people, who had their own hidden agendas (Judges 14:16-17; 16:15-17). The woman of Shunem knew with whom to share her heart: the one who gave her the promise in the first place (2 Kings 4:8-37).

When she faced her particular crisis she chose to share the details with her husband on a need-to-know basis before she left to find the prophet. En route she bumped into the prophet’s servant, who kindly asked her if everything was all right. All she said was, yes. That was not the entire story, her child was dead, but the servant didn’t have to know the details either. Eventually, she reached the prophet and poured out her heart to him.

This woman took her heart to Elisha first (as a type of Jesus Christ) and not to the world. She knew messengers along the way could’ve stopped her, or diverted her focus. If so, she would probably never have experienced the joy of seeing her son alive again.

 

SUBMIT TO PREPARATION TIME

“Until the time came to fulfil his dreams the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”

(Ps 105:19 NLT)

Maybe you’re freaking out because time seems to be slipping away fast and for some reason people are still wondering what you’re going to do when you grow up. And it’s not as if you don’t know, but it has been years and somehow you’re still not close to living your dream. Why the delay? Why all these detours?

You know, we get stressed out about too many things. All we should do is trust God. There is a rest reserved for those who live by faith. Those who have entered into that rest are not easily moved by what they see or by what they hear. Their souls have found rest in the faithfulness of God (Heb 4:1-3).

God is in control. He is more in control than we give Him credit for. He faithfully directs our steps. He knows exactly what He’s doing. One of the things He knows is that if you’re building a structure, most of your time and energy will be spent on the foundation. If the foundation is not solid storms can cause serious damage to the structure, but a strong foundation will withstand any storm (Matt 7:24-27). Once the foundation is laid the rest of the structure will be built in seemingly no time. That’s the story of your life.

You see, God’s not interested only in your outward success. He’s a character consultant, not an image consultant. His main concern is the development of your heart, not the development of your image (2 Sam 16:7).

God knows that it’s not your gifts, or the fact that you’re anointed, that will sustain you through life’s battles, but your character. So, as a character consultant God will put you through training (Rom 5:3-5). He will allow tests and trials to reveal the condition of your own heart to you. He will allow delays to develop your patience and endurance. He will take you through a wilderness to mature you. He will lead you into a battle to slay your private giants. And He will take you to a cross to crucify your self- centredness or self-reliance.

 “As for having the dream twice, it means that the matter has been decreed by God and that he will make these events happen soon.”

(Gen 41:32 NLT)

 

“You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”

(Ps 139:3, 5 NLT)

Don’t think God hates you, or has left you, if you experience some tough times en route to your dream. Don’t become hysterical if you spend time in places you don’t want to be, or around people you don’t want to be with. Don’t crack up if you go through a season when abundance in all things seems a lifetime away.

You need times of character building. You need to have a solid foundation. You need to learn how to endure hardship with a good attitude. You need to become a person of integrity. You need to become a person who won’t sell out your heart to the empty promises or pleasures of this world. You need to become a person who does not give up so easily. You need to become a person whose dream becomes greater than merely your own life.

God is training you to last. Before you set out to change the world He will first change you. He will purify your selfish motives, cut you down to size (after all, you’re not the great I Am, He is) and then send you out into a dream much greater than you could possibly imagine. Yes, you may not like the stage you’re in right now, but choose to enjoy the journey and accept your training with a good attitude.

Look at Joseph. He was an arrogant, spoiled brat. Joseph needed preparation and God knew that. He was trained and tested in a pit and in prison when nobody but God was looking. Everyone forgot about Joseph, but not God. Eventually Joseph emerged as a humble man with character, ready to step into his dream.

God is much more interested in who you are than in what you do. True success in His eyes is not measured by your great personal accomplishments, position of power, or impressive bank account. True success in His eyes is measured by how much you are being transformed into the divine image and character of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29)!

 

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS

“Oh, don’t worry; I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!”

(2 Cor 10:12 NLT)

While you’re on your journey, keep this in mind: You have your race, run it. Concentrate on your dream. Stay with God’s personal instructions for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to discern the times and seasons in your life. Work on the lessons He’s bringing to your attention. Reach your potential. Measure your success against the Word of God, not against people. If you do that you won’t have time to criticise other people. And you certainly won’t have time to become jealous or envious (Gal 5:26).

Remember, we all have a unique race to run in life. Not everyone’s track looks the same. Some tracks are not more important than other tracks. You’ll know when its time for you to start, and you’ll know when its time for you to finish. Everybody who runs to win and who endures to the end will receive a prize (1 Cor 9:24-27).

Now, a difficult but necessary lesson to learn is to rest in God’s timing for your life. How do you react when everyone seems to get blessed but you, or everyone is getting promoted but you? God will test your attitude. So make sure you guard your heart against pride, bitterness, self-pity or envy. Don’t panic, your time will come. You will bear your fruit in your season.

There’s much more involved than just your own life. God sees the big picture, you only see in part. He knows when you are ready to handle what has been prepared for you. And there are certain situations or people that God has to get into place before He can release you into your dream, at exactly the right time!

And deal with this: You’ll always be richer, or poorer, than someone else. You’ll always be more handsome, or less handsome than someone else. You’ll always be more beautiful, or less beautiful, than someone else. You’ll always be more intelligent, or less intelligent, than someone else.

You’ll always be fatter, or thinner, than someone else. You’ll always be more spiritual or less spiritual than someone else. So, comparing yourself to someone else will drive you up the wall.

Instead of comparing or competing, rather appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate the unique gift that God has placed in every person. God loves variety, and so should we. After all, we are all precious and necessary parts of the body of Christ!