Growing up I don’t remember having many dreams. I must have been a sound sleeper because all of the stories I hear of people dreaming of being naked in school or whatnot either never occurred or have been forgotten!
I’ve also found that my life dreams (or goals) have been rooted in practicality for much of my adult life. In past years, I’ve lacked the strength to block out other’s negative opinions about different paths I’ve considered pursuing. This left me and without the courage or ability to dream big.
The Bible is full of people who had dreams. God used dreams to speak to people’s hearts, and I think he does the same in certain situations today. Joseph dreamt of his future as God was promising. (Genesis 37) Nebuchadnezzar had nightmares which only Daniel could interpret to show God as the one true God. (Daniel 2)
Several years ago I read Jennie Allen’s book Anything. As I read, I realized that I too had a deep desire to live a life surrendered to God. Praying “anything” opened up understanding that I had areas of my life I needed to dream bigger in and others that I needed to say good-bye to. Here are five things I’ve come to understand about life dreams.
Your neighbor’s dream is not necessarily for you. Jennie Allen writes of the adoption of their son Cooper as a direct result of praying “anything.” This was not the only thing, but it was a significant act of obedience and surrender. As I read Cooper’s story, my heart was again stirred on the subject of adoption. This was a subject Ordell, and I had discussed since our years of dating. Still, as I pursued our options, it became clear at every turn that our family was not in a position to adopt.
A dream without God’s presence is not worth pursuing. On paper, adoption makes perfect sense. It’s scriptural, our county was in desperate need of families fostering, and everyone else was adopting. (Ok, not everyone, but a LOT of people in our circles) Because of the logical side, it took me a while to realize I wasn’t praying for God to be present in adoption, I was merely telling him we were going to adopt.
Imagine my surprise when on a whim I prayed “God, are you in this adoption thing with us?” and heard a clear “NO.” See, God had other plans for our family, and although he wasn’t revealing them yet, he was clear to tell me that another baby was not in the picture.
Dreams rarely are fulfilled in the way we expect. Once I stopped focusing so much energy on praying for our adoption process God began to reveal his plans for us. We began to pray that God would allow our hearts to beat for the things his heartbeat for and with that simple sentence I was reminded that I was called to serve college women.
With renewed passion and direction for my life dreams, I sought out ways to serve the campus community Ordell was already a part of. Again, our no was a clear and forceful one. It felt incredibly confusing to know what direction my life was to take and to be told run up against roadblocks at every turn.
The next years would reveal that college ministry was to occur on a different campus, one that was not yet on our radar. Like Joseph, my call from God was not an immediate action call.
Sometimes dreams won’t make sense to pursue by anyone around you. The path that opened up my opportunities for college ministry was possible because Ordell was also pursuing a surrendered life. When the current coaching job Ordell has opened up, it made very little sense to people around us for him to pursue it. It was late in the year, he couldn’t bring staff with him, and other details that are generally important to football related jobs didn’t exist. Still, as we prayed and discussed the job it seemed clear to us this was the next step God was calling us to take. It was AFTER we had moved those many details that had felt concerning worked themselves out and women’s ministry opened up in a very clear path.
God has specific dreams for everyone. Scripture is filled with people who were told by God that a specific plan for their lives existed. The same is true for us! I love this passage in Jeremiah 29:8-14
Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
As I stopped listening to the voices around me and instead chose to ask God for the strength to seek his plan for my life a path opened up that I couldn’t have dreamt on my own in my wildest dreams. Now, in the midst of seeing dreams written on paper over a decade ago more fully developed than I could have imagined, I’m thankful for women who were strong enough to go before me and dream big, and then teach what they learned.
There are still moments when I pause to watch an aspect of my life unfold and chuckle about the details before me. Personal details have combined to create a unique journey for me. A life that is not easy, but is centered on glorifying God using my personal talents, passions, and skills. What more could a girl dream for? 😉
Linking up with Mrs. Disciple for another #FridayFive!