In my last blog I said we would start looking at “Papa’s Big Heart Discipleship Project – His Dream Life On Display,” and we will, I promise, but not quite yet! Let’s do some practical stuff first. I want us to look at five ways our dreams aren’t big enough, with suggestions on how might we fix this.
Here we go:
Our dreams aren’t big enough because quite often they start with me – my dreams – my hopes – my expectations –my wishes and my desires. Here are some quotes that illustrate this:
“All your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them” – said Walt Disney.
(All is a really big word. If I dream of going to the moon or being a fighter pilot you would rightly fault me for dreaming a pipe dream.)
“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough!” – said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
(But Jesus said, “Nothing shall be impossible with God,” leaving no room for fear; our God-breathed dreams should not and will not scare us!)
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – said Eleanor Roosevelt.
(But is their beauty found in the plan, purpose, vision and dream life of Papa God?)
Of course there is some truth in each of these three statements, and they do help! Nonetheless we find ourselves surrounded by movements and meetups, websites and webinars, books and podcasts and seminars and training courses, all touting surefire approaches for me dreaming my dreams and getting my life aspirations done.
All well and good, except…
…except rarely do these resources begin by asking if my dreams originate with Papa’s heart.
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does…” (John 5:19-20). And this includes dreaming.
So, the first way our dreams aren’t big enough is when they don’t originate or find a solid place in the dreaming heart of our Heavenly Father.
Be clear on this: what I’m not saying is that our dreams can’t include things like a big home, a vacation getaway somewhere, nice things, wealth for extravagant giving to the charities and good works we believe in, and great wealth in a very general way – not at all! I’m simply asking, how does all that line up with the dreams of Papa? Dreams we can clearly see in His Word, dreams we can hang our own “dreaming heart” hats on?
We can fix this by re-reading our Bibles through a new lens: “What does this verse or passage show me about Papa’s dreams? And how can these dreams of His affect and inform and shape my own?” That’s a great starting point.
Our dreams aren’t big enough because often times they are not focused on other people, or people groups, or nations, etc. Our dreams should be tied to serving others more largely, more completely, and in greater numbers over time, God willing.
Big dreams (should!) = big service to others.
And this starts with serving our own families and local churches well, then (should) grow into dreams for serving our local communities, then, our nation and other nations. (“…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”) All this by the call and direction of Papa God.
Jesus said: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28). Effective service to others is the ultimate dream of all those who dream dreams after God’s heart. It’s just as simple as that.
How can we fix this, then? Let me suggest this: take a hard look at your master dream list, and go over each one carefully with these questions in mind:
How does this dream equip me to serve others better?
Who will benefit from this dream coming true?
What transformation in others and in my society do I hope takes place as a result seeing this particular dream fulfilled?
Can I hear Papa say, “Well done, my child!” as a result of dreaming this dream and seeing it come to pass?
Each dream should find itself anchored in serving others, or experiencing greater intimacy with God, or making a trans-generational impact on our world, etc. In other words, there should be a clear other-awareness in all our dreams.
Our dreams aren’t big enough because sometimes they’re just pure fantasy, and they distract us from dreaming Spirit-breathed, Word-informed, Papa-pleasing, situation-relevant dreams.
Pursuing these chimeras distract us of the focused effort needed to bring God-birthed dreams to pass, like so many shiny squirrels.
When we hear people talk about dreams like this: “I dream of being a recording star,” people who have never learned a note of music, played one instrument, or have any clue what kind of music they would record and the artistic result they have in mind, we know we’re hearing fantasy, and not a Papa-breathed dream. (We love and honor them regardless!)
But if that same person is a construction worker and they say, “I dream of building a series of widow and orphan refuge homes in the poorest parts of the South,” you might be hearing a God-breathed dream. It’s in concert with that person’s proclivities and life trajectory, and, it has a clear benefit for some specific others in view. And the dreamer has a strong passion for and commitment to the dream.
So how can we fix this? Looking again at your master dream list, ask yourself some more hard questions: “Which of these are simply impossible and need to come off my list?” Now are you thinking to yourself, “IMPOSSIBLE? But Jesus said with God all things are possible!” I hate to break it to you, but you’re not quite getting the meaning of this thought of God’s! Here’s a terrific example:
Jesus said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36) Sure, it was possible for Papa to take the cup of Crucifixion away from Jesus, but Papa willed it not. Jesus’ own desire, His dream if you will, was not to have to go through with this. But that was simply impossible; it was the will of His Father that Jesus go through with the Crucifixion. (Good thing, right?)
So Jesus bowed His heart to the desire, plan, and dream of the Father, meekly went forth to die for us. (And what is the dream of Papa that helped Him keep His Son’s will steady in the moment of crisis? It was this: the Father’s dreaming eye saw beyond all the current turmoil and was looking steadily at the prize: the Son’s Bride. Terrific news here: that’s you and me!)
Our dreams aren’t big enough because we are pessimistic about the future of our planet and its people, its history and its outcome.
We hear things like “You don’t polish the brass on a sinking ship,” and, “Wake up! The time is running out!,” and “The world is a sinking Titanic ripe for judgment, not Garden of Eden perfection.” So in addition to being me-centered, not related to Scripture, and pure fantasy, the time horizon of our dreams is almost always: in my lifetime, no later!
They are rarely trans-generational, and that’s because we have this gravely mistaken notion that Jesus is returning at any moment. We ignore Papa’s current report card to the Church with respect to completing the mission Jesus assigned to us in Matt. 28:18-20. (Interim grade for this assignment: “Incomplete, but keep going, you’re doing great!”)
Further, we ignore the Genesis to Revelation heartbeat, intention, and will of our Father with respect to how things turn out for us and our planet. (We won’t get into this in depth now, but we most certainly will later!)
Jesus said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Count up the “alls” in this prophetic command of Jesus. All authority. All the nations. Teach them all things. Always. Now, go grab you a coffee and a New York Times. Or turn on a CNN broadcast. Do you see these alls all lined up and done, ready to present to Papa and Jesus? Are we done yet? Are we there yet? News flash: we’re not done till we’re done. And He’s with us till then. Till then we must “be about our Father’s business.”
So how do we fix this? Back to the Word we go! Have a look at these passages and see how they might influence our thinking about the future. Let’s get serious about learning God’s heart and mind towards us and our planet its history, its final state before time wraps up: Isaiah 2:2-5, 9:6-7, 35, 60-62, Num. 14:21, Hab. 2:14, Ps. 22:27-28, Rev. 11:15, 1 Cor. 15:25, Gen 1:28. (And many, many others.)
Our dreams aren’t big enough because they don’t have intimacy as their ultimate outcome, intimacy with God first and foremost. We’re talking about the one thing:
“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death… ” (Philippians 3:8-10)
The pursuit of intimacy with God is the foundation of all dreaming, planning, and doing. It was the grand theme of Jesus’ life:
Jesus said: “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22-24)
The fix for this? Let’s take a look at that master dream list again. Can you see “intimacy with God” sitting behind or underneath each one, in one way or another? Has intimacy with Him given birth to the dream? And/or, will someone else’s intimacy with God be birthed or accelerated? If you can’t see it in the dream somehow, some way, should that dream even be there? We have to be brutally honest with ourselves. We don’t have an endless supply of days to devote pursuing our dreams.
In conclusion: let’s guard carefully what we invest our hearts, our treasure, and, very critically, the use of our days and hours and minutes into. Let’s be sure we’re pursuing dreams that are symphonic responses to our Father’s heart, dreams that resonate deeply in Heaven, for realization here on earth. Just like Jesus.