Someone gave me some flack the other day because I encourage Christians to follow their dreams. The person felt I should just teach people to love God — that when people follow dreams they aren’t following God, they’re putting something higher in their hearts than Him. In many cases that is true. People get obsessed with their goals of acquiring things and spend years seeking riches instead of God. But God is looking at our lives on a broader canvas than we are. All we see is the here and now, but He sees eternity. He’s taking each of us through a process tailored to us and our learning style — all the while protecting our freedom of choice.
One of His favorite tutoring tools are dreams. Nine times out of ten, if a Christian follows the dream placed in her heart by God, she comes to know Him at a level she never could have before. Her life transforms, and she becomes completely connected to Christ. That can happen even by pursuing very materialistic dreams.
Let me tell you a little about my own journey; and why I believe dreams aren’t just a good thing, but a God thing. In 1995, I dreamed of owning some property that would have plenty of acreage for animals and a garden. I wanted to rear our children in a house next door to my sister and her family. We wanted water on the property and for our homes to be close to civilization but not so close that there were neighbors on every side. We wanted the feel of country with the convenience of suburbia. A tall order, perhaps, but we got very clear on this and began to pray for God to lead us to this property.
In December 1996, we found that property and my sister’s family and ours bought 24 acres bordering the Chickamauga Battlefield at auction. We didn’t even have all the money for it at the time. But we paid down what we could. We had one week to come up with the rest. I was about $16,000 short! But a miracle happened and the money came.
There was no way we could deny that God helped us. What some would consider a materialistic goal happened with God’s help. So many blessings have come from this move. Just as we’d hoped, our children grew up next door to their cousins and formed family bonds that will last forever. Because of the location, our children have gotten into less trouble than others, and our Church has been a big part of our lives.
The next dream I had was to be financially stable – to be able to provide for our family so that we could afford college and missions. I wanted not to simply survive, but thrive. In time, the Lord helped me build a sustainable business that allowed both my husband and me to be home with our children when they needed us.
Again, what seemed like a very materialistic dream held spiritual blessings. Our children have reaped the benefits of having their parents handy for them. Because the Lord has blessed us financially, we’re able to reach out and help others too.
Throughout the pursuit of both these dreams, I learned to trust the Lord and His timing. I learned that His ways aren’t always our ways, but He does grant unto us according to the desires of our hearts (Proverbs 10:24). Every day, I grow to love Him more.
I’ve held other dreams over the years – to get a book published. I have 20 in print. In pursuing and acquiring dreams, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God. Most of all, I’ve learned that the best dreams are the ones that aren’t about us, but that reach out and bless others. Life isn’t about acquiring things; it’s about building a strong relationship with Jesus Christ and reaching out to serve His children. When we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of our God.
Jesus told His disciples to be “fishers of men.” The Savior is the greatest fisherman of all. Over the years He’s taught me where to cast my nets to find the greatest catch – whether that be a material catch or a spiritual one. For with God, all things are spiritual. He’s also taught me that the dreams He plants in my heart are His loving “bait” to draw me closer to Him.
It is only when we move our feet that the Spirit can continue to grant us wisdom and inspiration about what to do next. When we’re sitting on the couch in front of the television, burying our dreams He has the hardest time reaching us. And, yes, it’s true that when we’re in the pursuit of “things” that we’re not incredibly receptive either. But I’ve found God does one or more of the following when we’re caught up in the pursuit of fame or fortune:
a) He lets us obtain them so we’ll realize they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – that in the end they never satisfy. One always needs more and more.
b) He allows us to be challenged in our health or relationships so we’ll learn what truly matters.
c) He allows us to acquire the things we seek only with His help so we learn that He is the Source of all good things.
Each of us learns differently and in our own time and way. I’ve found that God is much more patient with me than I am with myself. He’s also more patient with my family and friends than I am. I might look at someone and say they’ve leaned their ladder of success against the wrong wall. But He looks at them and says, “This is the way they need to learn it. When they get to the top and find an empty, lonely attic, they’ll realize that life isn’t about things.”
Whatever the worthwhile dream, God can use it to bring you where you need to be. It’s the lure on His fishing hook to bring you to Him! The beautiful thing is that as He brings you to a higher level of love for and trust in Him, your dream becomes a part of His big dream – to bring love, light, and eternal life to humanity. Each of us in our own unique way can be a small part of that.
So, don’t squash your dreams. They are the seeds God plants within you. They set you in motion toward Him. As you continually submit yourself to His tutelage and nourish the dream, He transforms you into a pure, clear conduit of His love and light – radiating for good.
“I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
© Copyright 2010 Marnie L Pehrson