"For no word from God will ever fail." Luke 1:37
God is not a Genie in a lamp, huddling inside cramped quarters hoping for relief at the whim of our selfish wishes and a swipe of our hand across the shiny brass. Although, that's how we treat him.
Wired with his DNA to create (ideas, products, ministries, babies, solutions) we often we envision the outcomes of our situations, imagine the perfect solutions and approach God with our wishes. We wish for a better job, wish we lived in a nicer home, wish the pain subsided, wish for slender bodies, wish for financial stability, wish for __________.
Praying for these things isn't wrong, but these things are not dreams. Wishes don't give us hope, but rather disappointment (in God and in ourselves), when they don't work out according to our plans.
So, if we're supposed to have God-sized dreams, if God's planted his desires into our hearts from the beginning, how do we distinguish dreams from wishes?
Dreams are those ideas that just won't leave you alone. They're often given you during prayer, through a simple thought, a picture, a word spoken over you by someone else. Many times dreams coincide with your talents, your passions, and spiritual gifts. For instance, you may have a dream to reach children from broken homes - to bring them hope and healing - but, you're not sure how that looks. At first you think it's through youth ministry, but that doesn't work out. Years pass and you wonder if you've failed but all along, you've journaled your thoughts, envisioned these kids, experienced more brokenness, forgiveness and healing - spiritual growth. Then, God couples this dream with your talent and gives you an idea for a book. Even though you've never authored anything beyond an article in the church newsletter or the school newspaper, it works. The words flow and the dream-seed is nurtured.
Most often dreams are beyond our means whether in talent, finances, time, etc. This is where God is- wrapped in our impossibilities - unwrapping all his possibilities.
After Gabriel gave Mary the news that she was God's chosen vessel for Emmanuel, (Luke 1)she didn't wish for a different way to bring Jesus into the world, she didn't impose her wishes for a better way on God. Rather, she asked "How will this be since I am still a virgin?" Mary humbly accepted the impossibilities with faith that God's possibilities would bring good things; that he would accomplish this according to his promises, not according to her wishes (Henri Nouwen, Watch for the Light, 2001 Orbis Books).
So, how does that apply to us and our dreams? First, distinguish wishes from God's dreams. Second, relinquish control to God's lead. Third, step out in obedience with eyes and hearts wide open, waiting with faith and hope.
Lord, open our minds and our hearts and align our thoughts with your dreams, today. Teach us to distinguish our wishes from your dreams. Help us to humbly accept your call on our lives,even when the outcome seems full of impossibilities. May we relinquish control. Give us courage with each step of obedience.
Tomorrow we discuss when dreams are beyond our reach.