It seemed to me that growing up in a small town meant opportunities were limited, so all my dreams were of going somewhere else where there were more and better possibilities.
Looking back, I remember wanting to be a prima ballerina. Mom tried to make me understand that I needed to have started with lessons before I was eleven years old, which was my age at the time, and there was nowhere to get lessons if one lived in Imboden, Arkansas.
Then there was the time I spent preaching to anyone who would listen for a minute because I was sure God was calling me to be a missionary. I didn’t want to leave my country and I wanted to be a wife and mother, but somehow in that mix I felt the call to be a missionary. Hm-m-m-m.
Thankfully, that vision for my life only lasted a month or two.
I wanted to be a teacher, a counselor, a bookkeeper, and became none of those things. Looking back I can see how childish these dreams were and I’m thankful God didn’t place those dreams into my heart. But there seems to be a connection that each of these silly and childish dreams had to the real job God had for me to do. He put those drives and ambitions into me to lead me to the place He ultimately intended for me to occupy.
So the obvious question is, “How does one know when a dream is from God?” It’s an important question. Just think about it! If your dream isn’t from God, it isn’t worth pursuing. It could lead you down a wrong path or into something that you never should have been tinkering around with.
We humans have a tendency to skew our selfish ambitions around to make ourselves believe they are God-given dreams and desires, but you need to run your idea through a filter or two to determine if it is truly God-given.
First, ask yourself if it will ultimately bring glory to God. “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36).
Why is it so difficult to see that God made everything for His glory? It is so everything, including your dream, will bring Him glory in the end!)
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dream will involve ministry in the church, or mean that you have to wear some sort of clothes to set yourself apart from others so they can see how God-honoring you are. No, it just means that what you do will bring glory to God.
For instance, if your dream involves something that isn’t quite ethical and you excuse yourself because “everybody does it,” then your dream isn’t from God and will not bring glory to Him. God will never ask you to do something contrary to His Word. But a dream that demonstrates hope, love, peace—God gets glory in that.
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows” (Isaiah 1:17).
If you read that scripture you have to realize God’s plan for you includes you treating others well and nowhere does it mention it will result in material success or fame. God isn’t concerned with those things, so if your dream is for vast wealth, no matter what you have to do to get it, the dream isn’t from God. Sometimes He rewards folks with material things, but those are not priorities for God. His main concern is for people and how we treat each other..
Any dream that involves taking advantage of people or capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune isn’t from God. Stay away from any business endeavor or plan like that. Instead, God will ask you to do something that meets people’s needs. That might mean becoming a foster parent, crocheting a sleeping pad from plastic grocery bags, making tiny soft baby quilts for a local NICU or any number of other things, but if it is from God it will benefit others. If it benefits others, you are likely closer to achieving the plans God has for you.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
A dream from God Will Seem Bigger Than What You Can Handle On Your Own. God doesn’t give little dreams. God loves doing significant things through seemingly insignificant people, though no one is insignificant to God.
What would be a seriously audacious dream for you? Do you want to start a home for elderly women who now live in a nursing home but could be in their own home if someone stayed with them? Or one for men in similar situations? Or is your dream big enough for you to dream both of these? Are you trying to love an unlovable spouse because God has given you the dream to build a marriage like you didn’t get to see while growing up? Maybe you are being called to foster a child or six?
Whatever your dream, dream it. God gives us big dreams that we cannot accomplish on our own so that when we see them come to pass, we know it was because of God’s hand and not our own.
God used my dreams to turn me into a wife, mother, bookkeeper for the farm books, teacher of women in our church, teacher of my children and counselor to women who needed a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.
Take a moment to evaluate the dream that’s in your heart right now. Does your dream fulfill these qualities? A dream from God is not trivial. It’s vital. It’s not childish. It’s powerful.
If God gave you a dream, you should pursue it. You should fight for it. Don’t ignore a dream God has given you. Your dream matters. So make that resolution today to follow that dream and be resolute in keeping after it.
Happy New Year everyone!