Dreams have been on my mind a lot lately.
Not the kind you have during sleeping…but the kind that keep you from sleeping. The kind that make you stay up all night imagining what you could be, what you could do, and what you could accomplish. The ones that make your heart beat faster. The ones that you see other people accomplishing and you think, “That’s it. That’s what I want my life to look like.” The dream of getting married and starting a family. The dream of publishing a book. The dream of becoming a speaker. The dream of starting a business. The dream of being a singer-songwriter.
It’s fun to dream, right? It’s fun to sit there and think about all these amazing things you want to do. It’s fun until all these dreams of yours are going nowhere. It’s fun until you see somebody else living the life you dreamed for yourself.
It’s fun until it’s not. Then we hire a life coach. We buy all those self-help books. We listen to those podcasts that empower you and tell you to “just dream, believe, and receive!” Or we turn to the internet and read blog posts to “just believe it and God will do it!” It’s fun until you let your dreams and your plan for your life overshadow what God’s dreams and plans for your life are.
I think we’ve all been told and at times believed a lie revolving around these dreams. We’ve been told to never give up on our dreams. That if we want it badly enough, we can make it happen. We’ve been told that if we put our mind to it, we can do anything. We’ve been told that we have the power to make all our dreams come true. Even as a Christian we can believe a lie. If we love and delight in God, then the desires of our hearts will come true (Psalm 37:4-5).
“I delight in you God, now why isn’t this happening?!”
Do we actually know what this verse means? Because to be honest I didn’t.
“So when we delight in the Lord, the desires that we have in our hearts are desires for the Lord. So what Psalm 37:4 means is that if we delight in the Lord, he will satisfy our desires for him, by giving us more joy in him.” via Living by Faith Blog
This does not necessarily mean just because we desire to travel the world God will make it happen for us. It does not mean just because we desire our dream career it will happen. It does not mean just because we desire a happy, healthy family it will happen. It does not mean ________ (insert your deepest desire here).
As a Christian, you’re not going to get everything you want in life. God’s #1 plan is not to make all our wildest dreams come true. Repeatedly in the Bible we actually see a pattern of God NOT fulfilling dreams.
“Take Job, for example. Job was the most righteous man in the world (Job 1:8), which meant he delighted in the Lord. And surely Job desired that God would immediately heal the boils on his body. But God did not give Job this desire of his heart (Job 2:8).
Think also of David. David delighted in the Lord. And David desired to build a temple to the Lord. But God did not give David this desire of his heart (1 Chronicles 17:1-4).
Or take Paul. Paul also delighted in the Lord. And Paul desired that God remove his thorn in the flesh. But God did not give Paul this desire of his heart (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).” via Living by Faith
There are few worst feelings for a creative visionary, a dreamer, or even a human with a pulse to see your dreams not play out the way you wanted…or even materialize at all. It’s a horrible feeling for anybody with hope and a dream to have it be deferred or destroyed (Proverbs 13:12).
But God isn’t here to fulfill all my dreams. Notice how I say my dreams. God has His own dreams or plans if you will, that He’s fulfilling for me and through me.
I’ve had dreams that I’ve held on to for a long time because if “I like it, this must mean God wants me to do it, right? God has put this desire in my heart, no matter what it is, so that must mean this is my calling.”
Right? Wrong. Well, not wrong. Sometimes.
When America’s Next Top Model came out 13 years ago, I had this strong desire to want to be on the show. “I just love it so much, I have such a strong desire for it, that means I have to be a model.” I highly doubt God was calling me to ditch my life, live in a house with 20 other men and women, and partake in bikini/nude photo shoots.
Just because it’s something you really want doesn’t mean it’s God’s plan for you. And sometimes something you really do want is God’s plan for you.
So what does this mean? Do we succumb to the fact that our desires will never work out? Just be on the wave of life being tossed to and fro? Give up because it’s too hard and we don’t even know for sure? Stop hoping and dreaming?
God does have good plans for you. Plans that may not be what you thought, but plans that will utilize your unique talents and God-given desires in a way to glorify God.
You’ve probably heard of the Hollywood stars and their overnight success. It can be hard not to feel a little jealous of that, but it usually doesn’t happen that way with God. He’s way more concerned with our heart and our motives over if we make a name for ourselves overnight or not.
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
-Proverbs 16:2 (NIV)
Have you ever had the wrong motives for something? We ask God for this new promotion at work because we say we want to be in a better position to reach more people when really we just want the new position title that would socially set us apart. We beg God to have our start-up business work because we just want to help people, but secretly deep down we just want to prove to all those people who doubted us that “yeah, I did become somebody.”
Do we think we’re fooling God? Sometimes dreams take a long time because we so often need to “fine tune” our dreams…and our hearts. It’s not wrong to pray for a job promotion or blessings on the next endeavor, but maybe you need to stop and really think about the motives behind them. It may help you see that a dream you have is being led for all the wrong reasons. It may help you let go of some toxic thoughts you’ve held on to.
Sometimes the dreams you have for yourself are not the ones that God has for you. This may mean that some things you’ve hoped for will never happen. This may mean that your life will look drastically different than what you planned. This may mean that you have to let go of some dreams you’ve held tightly on for years and let God fulfill His dreams in your life.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
-Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
This verse shows us that you don’t just believe something and it will happen like society wants us to believe. It takes the power off of us and onto God-where it should be. It shows us that we have our own ideas how about our life should go, but God is the one that determines it.
I don’t know about you, but to me, that is a huge relief. If you live by the “believe it and you can do it” motto, then you will constantly feel disappointed every time something you want doesn’t work out. If you believe in yourself, then you will always feel like a failure because something you did wasn’t working out somehow. You don’t want to trust and believe in yourself. You want to trust and believe in God, specifically trust Him with your dreams and that He knows best.
Your dreams may take time. It may need to be fine-tuned a bit. It may even become an entirely new dream. It may take God working on our hearts and being truly delighted in Him to desire good things….not things that make us look good or make us lots of money. It may take a while, but it will happen.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Even though the dreams God fulfills in your life may be different than the ones you thought you wanted, you have to remember that God is good and His plans are good. This means that even though it’s not what you originally thought, it’s better than anything you could have dreamed up yourself.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
-Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
Our dreams might not work out, but God’s will. And God’s dreams will always be better than mine.