I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams lately.
Not the kind of dreams you have when you’re sleeping, but the kind you have when you’re awake. The kind of dreams that actually keep you from sleeping. The dream of starting a business. The dream of having kids. The dream of getting married. The dream of signing a record deal. The dream of publishing a book. The dream of having a large house. The dream of becoming a missionary.
My generation has been told that if we dream it, we can have it. You want to be president? You can do it. You want to be a teacher? You can do it? You want to be a famous actor? You can do it. With enough hard work, you can make all your dreams come true. It’s sort of like Field of Dreams—if you build it, they will come. If you dream it, it will happen.
I’ll be honest: there have been times when I’ve bought into the dream machine propaganda. I’ve bought the books and read the blog posts and listened to the podcasts. I’ve written out “life plans” for myself, in which I sketch out all the things I want to accomplish over the next five years. I’ve purchased goal-setting apps for my iPhone (yes, I know I’m a nerd).
But in recent months I’ve come to realize something very important: God isn’t in the dream fulfilling business.
Actually, God does fulfill dreams, just not my dreams. God is in the business of fulfilling his dreams.
This theme runs through all of scripture. God has a plan, a dream if you will, for each person, and he always fulfills that dream. Abraham and Sarah dreamed of having lots of kids together. God dreamed of them having one son together, who would, along with Abraham, be an instrumental part of an incredible covenant between God and God’s people. Moses dreamed of growing up in Pharaoh’s palace. God dreamed of sending Moses into the desert for forty years, then using Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Hannah dreamed of having a large family. God dreamed of her having a son, Samuel, who would be dedicated to the Lord’s service.
The people of Israel dreamed of a Messiah who would come in power and destroy all the enemies of Israel. God dreamed of a Messiah who would come in weakness and humility and be crucified upon a Roman cross.
The moral of the story? God’s dreams for me are better than my dreams for me, and God will always fulfill his dreams.
Deferred, deterred, and destroyed dreams can make your heart feel sick. They can make you question God. Why God? Why am I still single? Why am I stuck in this job? Why is my church still so small? Why can’t I have kids? Why am I still struggling in my marriage? Why am I still battling these health problems?
To which God would reply (without minimizing your pain one bit):
You can trust me. Your dreams aren’t working out, but mine are. You are mine, and I have a plan for you. I will make it happen.
There’s a fascinating phrase in Acts 13:36. Paul says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption….” God had a very specific purpose for David, and he ensured that David fulfilled that purpose. Once David fulfilled that purpose, he died and went to be with the Lord.
God has a very specific, good, wonderful purpose for you and me. He will fulfill that purpose. My dreams may not come true, but God’s dreams for me will come true. And the good news is: God’s dreams are always much better than mine.
NOTE: I wrote another post on this theme over at the Desiring God blog.
Stephen Altrogge is a writer, pastor, and knows a lot about Star Wars. Find out more at The Blazing Center.