Have you ever dreamed about something really big for a long time – maybe even a lifetime – and then it finally comes true? I’m not talking about an amazing vacation or a new car, but more like one of those life altering dreams. If so, you might have noticed that when it finally happens, it also comes with a few things you didn’t anticipate. Like an addendum of stipulations included with a contract, dreams often have long strings attached, making them even harder to achieve and surprisingly complicated to manage once they come to fruition.
Most people significantly underestimate their readiness to pursue a dream or receive a blessing. It’s fairly easy to imagine the incredible, but when we do, a couple of things usually happen. Either we are blinded to the things that need to change in our lives to make the dream possible, or we give up entirely on the thought because we lack the courage to believe it could really happen. For some, the disappointments of life have made them feel so downtrodden that they gave up the notion of dreaming big a long time ago.
The reality is that all really big, audacious, life-shaking dreams always have strings attached. One of the strings is obvious: most dreams require extremely hard work and take a long time. Other strings are less pronounced. We start with just a tiny tug on one of them, and then suddenly realize we’ll be pulling on it for many years to come. Take for example, my dream to write a novel. For more than 20 years I have been dreaming of having the time to make it happen. That may seem like a long wait, but now that I’m living the dream, I’ve realized that if I had been able to do this any earlier in life, I would’ve failed miserably. In fact, there are days where I still feel like I am woefully unprepared and incapable of doing this. Not because the words for the book won’t come, but because of what I’ll call the longest string in my life. We all have one… our longest strings. It’s the thing that never seems to go away… the bad habit, the weakness, the constant frustration, the limitation of some sort. It’s the string that always seems to wrap itself around your positive thoughts and experiences and pulls tight enough to leave scars. The apostle Paul called it “the thorn” in his side. And while scholars have never figured out what his thorn was, Paul made it clear that God’s dreams for his life would come true despite his uncomfortable and clearly frustrating limitation.
My longest string is anxiety. I’ve battled it since my early 20s, and while I am much freer of it today by the grace and healing power of God’s work in my life, it will probably never go away entirely. The experience of moving from a rigorous corporate structure driven by others’ requirements and goals to a flexible and wide-open work schedule driven only by my own discipline and ideas was much more anxiety-inducing than I would have ever imagined. Until now, I had never realized how much comfort and trust I placed in rules, boundaries and goals. I spent my whole life maximizing success within someone’s else’s parameters for my job, and now my job was to pursue something without anyone telling me what to do, set my expectations, or give me some idea of what the future might hold if I succeed. Now, I live in a new world where I might achieve my goal, but fail entirely to be successful. This is a difficult concept for a performance-driven, strategy-loving over-achiever like me.
It would be enough to freeze my creativity and send me back to corporate life faster than you can say “key performance indicators”… if it wasn’t for one, incredible factor. I have the Dream Maker. No, I’m not talking about Santa or some fantastical notion of God where we can just put in our order and expect to get our hearts’ desires. The Dream Maker doesn’t give me the desires of my heart, He gives me His. In the garden of my heart, He plants, nurtures, and sustains His dreams for me as long as I give Him my full permission and submission to do so. And while it is true that my passion for writing a novel came from Him, it took more than two decades of refinement in my heart to prepare me for this journey.
Like me, if you’re waiting on a big dream, you’re in good company. Noah waited 120 years before the rains came. Abraham waited 25 years between the time God planted the dream of an heir and when Isaac was born. Joseph waited 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and more than 20 years from the time he first received God’s vision for him in a dream. The Dream Maker fulfills His dreams for us in His time.
John Maxwell said that God prepares us in a slow-cooker. I love that. He goes on to say, “More important than the awaited goal is the work that God does in us while we wait. Waiting deepens and matures us, levels our perspective, and broadens our understanding.” And for me, the waiting prepared me to pursue God’s dream despite my biggest weakness. God had to prepare me to operate in freedom. Prior to now, my longest string would have not only tied me up, but it would have choked the very life out of the dream God gave me.
If you’ve stopped dreaming, start up again by delighting in the Lord in prayer. It’s His courage you’ll need, not your own. If you’re waiting, take heart and know that He will finish the work He’s started in you, as long as you continue to get out of His way. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” If you’re asking Him to do something big, change your prayers and ask Him to plant only His dreams in your heart. I promise you that prayer will surely produce something big! Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Random musings, heartfelt confessions, and occasionally inspirational thoughts from a hungry soul in pursuit of the One who set the stars in place yet calls me by name.
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