I had a dream.
That’s about the saddest statement I think I’ve ever heard. Past tense. Never realized. Abandoned. Like my ballerina dream.
I was eight years old and my dream was to dance for the New York Ballet Company. It was a short-lived dream; murdered with a simple sentence. “You’ll never be tall enough.”
Someone killed my ballerina dream, and that was the beginning of the death of many other dreams. Before long I learned to kill my own dreams. Sound a little harsh? I’d venture to say you’ve probably done the same thing. It’s how many of us have been conditioned. Don’t dream; be realistic. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache down the road.
I know that’s why my ballerina dream was killed. The one who killed it didn’t mean any harm. In fact, she was only trying to spare me pain in the long run. She knew the odds were stacked heavily against my ever reaching that goal. But, here’s the thing. It wasn’t a goal. It was a dream. I was eight years old. I didn’t know a thing about goal-setting and long-range-planning. All I knew about was dreaming. And I dreamed of being a ballerina.
Do you have a dream?
I’m saying you do, whether you realize it or not. I believe that all believers are given dream seeds, planted in us as we are being woven together.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:13-16 (New Living Translation)
And I believe our God-given dreams are tied closely to His plans for our lives.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (New Living Translation)
God has good plans for each of us. Each of them crafted as unique parts of The Master Plan He wrote before He laid the foundations of the earth… as He recorded it all in His book. God’s plans for our lives are so much greater than any plans we could ever craft for ourselves. Because His ways are so much higher than our ways, our minds can’t fathom the greatness of His plans for us. They wouldn’t even be realistic. And that’s what our minds know plans to be; a realistic strategy for reaching an attainable goal. Isn’t that all nice and tidy? Isn’t that so doable? Not so with dreams.
Dreams aren’t doable.
I began trying to dream last year and I found it to be one of the hardest things ever, because my mind had been trained against it. For decades I had conditioned myself to think in terms of realistic goals and manageable steps toward reaching those goals. Every part of the process was something I had control of. I couldn’t dream because I couldn’t break free of the goals and plans concept.
I discovered a parallel between plans and dreams, and it has helped me in my quest to learn to dream. I’m still learning. Maybe I will be until my last breath. Old, well-established patterns are hard to break, and control is a hard thing to give up. Control is a vital part of planning, but if we really want to dream we have to relinquish control to The One who creates our dreams.
The formula for dreaming is a lot like the formula for planning. A plan is a vehicle for pursuing a goal. A dream is a vehicle for pursuing a vision. Without a goal there’s nothing to plan for. Without a vision there’s nothing to dream toward.
If we each have a God-given dream, we each must have a God-given vision to give us something to dream toward. Our visions are as personal as the dreams and plans God has written for our lives. They’re all fueled by the passions He has placed within each of us. I challenge you to find passion in a plan. If you do, I believe there’s a dream hidden there.
Are you living your dream? Your dream is not about you, it’s about others. It’s about the lives you will touch and the people you will influence. It’s about living out your calling in its fullest, and moving toward the culmination of your God-given vision. When we begin to understand that our dream is the means of fulfilling the unique calling on our lives, we begin to understand that our dream is a gift to be received and carefully stewarded.
Your dream keeps you propelled toward God’s vision for your life, His plans for you, and your unique role as a special piece of His Master Plan for all time. The world sometimes tells us that dreaming is selfish. Self-indulgent. But living out a God-given dream is different; it’s about living an empowered life that leaves this world a better place. Your dream isn’t about being center stage with a spotlight shining on you and an adoring audience falling at your feet. Your dream is a platform on which to serve, with the spotlight on The Light of the World, as you lead others to fall at His feet.
Realizing just how short life is, and what a limited amount of time we have for dreams, we will begin to feel an urgency for discovering our vision and learning how to dream toward it. We will realize our dream for what it is: an outlet for our focus and our energy, because its final destination is the purpose we’re created for. Discovering our dream helps us live with fullness and a sense of expectancy. It helps us discern between good ideas and God-given vision, between beneficial and supernatural.
This time of year we honor the memory of a man remembered for his dream – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His vision and his dream affected thousands during his lifetime. They continue to affect millions more, decades after his life was so tragically cut short. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech is filled with references to the origin of his dream. Read it for yourself and notice the passages of Scripture mentioned in his passionate oration pleading for equality for all mankind. His God-given dream impacted lives. It changed the course of history. Your God-given dream has the same potential, because it has the same Creator and is powered by the same Source.
God has crafted a vision and a dream just for you. They live and breathe at the intersection of your personality, gifts, talents, skills, life experiences and your passion. They will enable you to live more intentionally, more fully, and more expectantly. Living your dream in pursuit of your vision will influence and affect others during your lifetime and long after your earthly life is done. Living out your dream energizes you and instills purpose in you, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “This is what I was made to do!”
I’ll never realize my dream of being a ballerina. Not because I’m not tall enough, but because I never pursued it. Would I have been remembered for it? Probably not. Would it have impacted lives? I doubt it. It wasn’t a God-given dream.
Dr. King will long be remembered for his God-given dream in pursuit of his vision “to make justice a reality for all of God’s children”. Your God-given dream can be the thing you are remembered for, in the years to come and long after your earthly life has ended. What do you want to be remembered for?
What’s your dream?
Want to learn more about our God-given visions and dreams? Join us for our Dare to Dream Retreat. Learn more here.