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. He drew up each one individually to be a unique part of The Master Plan He wrote before He laid the foundations of the earth. God’s plans for us are so much greater than any plans we could ever make for ourselves. Because His ways are so much higher than our ways, we can’t grasp the greatness of His plans for us. They wouldn’t even be realistic. And that’s what we know a plan 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 started trying to dream last year and it was one of the hardest things ever, because my mind had been trained against it. For decades I had trained myself to think in terms of realistic goals and manageable steps toward reaching those goals. Every part of the process was something I could control. The reason I couldn’t dream was that I couldn’t break free of the goals and plans concept.
I found a similarity between plans and dreams, and it has helped me in learning to dream. I’m still learning. Maybe I will be until my last breath. Old habits die hard and control is a hard thing to give up. Control is a key part of planning, but if we really want to dream we have to let go.
Planning and dreaming are a lot alike. We plan to reach a goal. We dream to pursue 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, and I believe we do, we also must have a God-given vision. It’s our vision that gives our dream direction. It gives us something to dream toward. Our visions are as personal as the dreams and plans God has written for us. They’re all fueled by the passions He placed in us. You’ll rarely find passion in a plan. If you do, there’s probably a dream hidden there.
Are you living your dream? Your dream isn’t about you, it’s about others. It’s about the lives you will touch and the people you will influence. It’s about living your calling in its fullest, and going hard after your God-given vision. Your dream is the way you fulfill the unique calling on your life. Once you recognize that, you’ll understand the importance of treating your dream like the beautiful thing it is: a gift to be received and nurtured.
Your dream keeps you propelled toward God’s vision and plans for you, and your unique role as a piece of His Master Plan for all time. The world might say that dreaming is selfish. Self-indulgent. But living a God-given dream is different; it’s about living an empowered life that leaves the 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 where you serve, and the spotlight is The Light of the World, leading others to adore Him.
Life is so short, and the time we have for dreams is so limited. When that realization really starts to sink in, we start to feel an urgency to discover our vision, and an urgency for learning how to dream toward it. That realization helps us to see 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 your dream helps you live with fullness and a sense of expectancy. It helps you 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 cause 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 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.