This weekend was supposed to be anything but quiet, yet here I sit, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of hot tea snug up against my leg. The scorching summer heat vanished overnight just as abruptly as my plans. Every single one, canceled… almost providentially, I began to think. Sometimes what we think we need is not what we actually need, and thankfully, I’ve learned to be adaptable and roll with the change. So I’m embracing the wide open weekend, letting myself get quiet- just quiet enough to tune in to the whispers of my heart. I kept feeling drawn to the idea of creating space with God to dig a little more and maybe just allow myself to breath out honest things. There are some things that just feel too risky to actually admit and examine in your own heart, you know? Like dreams, for me.
Several nights ago a friend and I sat out on a perfectly lit patio eating gazpacho and taking in the day’s last heat wave. This sweet friend is fearless with asking questions that draw others out, and I love it. So I start going way back, almost a decade ago to where I first dreamed dreams. “I used to dream….,” I said. I didn’t even catch it in all my carrying on, but she did, and she immediately threw a net around those words, those little lit up pieces of my heart, like they were fireflies in the night, and asked more. I was almost forced to look at them now through the glass jar, drawn by their magnetic light. These are old dreams, dreams that have worn with time, with distance, with distraction, with fear, with laziness, with unfulfillment, with attack, with forgetting, with dismissing, with quitting or never trying. But they are also still there, breathing and alive and taking new shape in refinement. She said, I wrote this in my journal as I was praying for you a while back, to “keep dreaming and dream bigger.” That sounded nice, “but I don’t even consider myself a dreamer,” I said. Clearly I had dreams, so what an odd thing to say. But here’s what I realized, I’ve never really wanted to embrace what God had put in my heart, maybe out of fear or doubt or misplaced identity and self-protection. And what I did see there in hidden places didn’t seem big, or glamourous enough, or worthy of the title of “dream”. They seemed, well… mostly plain and simple and like work, really. But we all know life is anything but plain, and not very simple, so why was I trying to circumvent these ideas and desires? Why did I think they should be tossed to the side, dismissed on the basis that they were not enough or too far beyond my reach? Many reasons I’m sure, but let’s just say that recognizing and owning dreams is hard and sort of scary. But I don’t think it has to be- at least not only that- not at all!I truly believe that God places in each of His Spirit-born children dreams and desires that pulsate with life-giving purpose for His glory, His Kingdom, and our ultimate good. And if there are good desires in our hearts we can not only trust God with them, but trust Him to lead us in the way of them. We can embrace them and own them without fear, without comparing them, or assigning wrong value to them based on the culture (even the Christian culture). We can choose to take risks and steps as God’s Spirit leads us. So here’s what I’m asking God for help in and choosing to do (maybe this is for you too)…
Live awake to God-given dreams and desires
Instead of burying or dismissing dreams, or living life asleep to them, we can choose to be open to what God shows us. We can bravely identify what dreams are really in our hearts, and embrace them with God-given confidence, because He has put them there for a reason, for a purpose! If there is a dream, it’s because there is a purpose that calls us to rise to it, to stop coasting through life and instead be more intentional by first believing God. I’m a visual person, so writing things out and praying over them helps. As we process this way, we can take it further by jotting down an intention or goal and a few action steps or just one to take in a direction. Maybe God just has you in a place to seek Him and to grow in understanding your identity in Him, or maybe He’s asking you to take a step in the direction of a dream. Whatever He is stirring in you, trust is at the heart of it, and He’s a master at building it with His children. He is patient and kind and compassionate towards us in our growing, stumbling, stepping out, straying, and rising up again. He knows how to love us and build a trusting relationship with us that will transform our very lives for His glory, and help us walk with Him in and on purpose!
Do your part and trust God to do His
What if God is looking for something to bless? Are we taking faithful, obedient steps that He can bless? Are we submitted and willing to partner with Him? What if we looked at what He has put inside of us like something precious that He has entrusted us with? When I recognize that the dreams and desires in my heart are a gift from Him that I will need to take some ownership of and do my part to bring to life, this can empower me and cause me to more greatly depend on God and start taking intentional steps in a direction. He will oftentimes nudge us to step into things even when we don’t feel ready, and we have to trust that His grace and wisdom will be our supply (this is also often how we grow). It’s so important to realize that it is not all on us or all on God, but He calls us into relationship with Himself where He is working out His purposes through our living and breathing, stumbling and obeying.
Always be more consumed with God than a dream
We can trust God with things. We can trust He knows what is best. And we can trust that He can do exactly what He says He can do in His Word. So we don’t let ourselves become consumed with a dream, instead we seek to be consumed with God. We don’t chase the dream, we chase the Maker of dreams. Our relationship with Him is the center of everything, and only when He is in that rightful place in our hearts and lives will our dreams stay in theirs. So let’s choose to keep delighting in and following God no matter what happens, trusting Him with the outcomes and confidently believing that He is working everything for our ultimate good.
And let’s dream again… let’s quiet our hearts long enough to linger and listen to what beats within us. What has God placed deep inside of you? Know that they are gifts intended for glorious purpose, to write out stories of the love of God in your life and the lives of others.