When do we stop dreaming? As children, it was natural to dream about the future and what we might be when we grow up. We could dream and imagine a better future, excitement, and adventure. But life has a way of beating you down and your dreams grow less and less powerful. There is no lack of dream killers around us:
- People who tell us it’s a dumb idea
- Failure to reach a dream or life goal
- Lack of encouragement or support
- Fear of looking silly or being criticized
- The long passage of time with no results
All these things can shut us down. On the other side, there are plenty of motivational speakers in the world today who see themselves as ‘dream releasers’ helping people follow their dreams. “If you can dream it, you can do it” is their motto. If only it was that easy.
As Christians, we sometimes get caught between wanting to dream and achieve things and wanting to do what God has planned for us. Those two things often feel like they are different and how can we tell the difference between them?
I don’t think God is a killjoy, preventing us from having dreams. He wants us to have a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. And I don’t think every dream or desire for the future I have is necessarily from him. My dreams can often be selfish. He wants me to use my gifts and talents not just for myself but to be a blessing to others. I’m never sure to what extent God is the source of my dreams. The need for discernment is always necessary.
Above all, God desires we love him and those around us. There are many ways to live this out, and each one of us has a unique path. But the ultimate goal is the same. If we are pursuing those two commands, then we can have some confidence we are on the right track. If we are just pursuing our own agenda, we might be off course.
Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13 “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” The context of this verse is important, as it follows the description of Jesus emptying himself to come and serve us. He is our example of being obedient to the father.
When we are centered on loving God and loving others, submitting our dreams and desires to him, I think we can trust him to direct our paths. We can prayerfully invite him into our situation and share our dreams. We can trust him to keep us from danger or warn us about what might lie ahead. We can trust him to shape our dreams in a way that pleases him rather than just our fleshly desires.
Don’t stop dreaming about what God can do through your life to be a blessing to others. He wants you to use those creative abilities and desires to impact the world we live in. Our dreams don’t always come to pass as we plan. There are setbacks and struggles. Not every plan of man is the right one. But that doesn’t mean we should sit around and do nothing. It’s a big world and there’s room yet for your dreams.