For many, 2020 has been a year of broken dreams. Some of us had plans for travel, vacation, and quality time with family and loved ones. Others of us had plans for our career, to push our business to the next level, or to take the next step in our education. And many of us had plans for ministry, to go on a mission’s trip, to speak at a conference, to participate more at church. Whatever it may have been, this year has taught us that our plans don’t always come to fruition.
Most of us have had to revise our expectations in accordance with recent events. We’ve had to readjust our dreams in light of the pandemic that hit our world. But can I tell you something? God’s plans for this year haven’t changed. Although we have had to readjust our plans, the Lord’s plans are right on schedule.
Choose the Right Dream
Through much of this year, many of us have had to stay indoors. As a result, we’ve had plenty of time for self-reflection. It has given us the opportunity to think about what’s important in life—including our dreams. One question we must ask ourselves is this: Are our dreams just that—ours—or are they God's?
When thinking about the future, it’s okay to dream big! In fact, the Bible encourages us to pursue our dreams. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” All things. The Lord not only encourages us to dream, but He also says He will strengthen us to accomplish mighty works by His power.
The key is to make sure that our goals align with the purposes of our Father. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God wants us to dream with Him—He wants us to see the dream He has for our life and to live it out. There is no greater sense of accomplishment than to achieve goals that have eternal value.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” When our heart is in sync with the Lord’s plan, there is no limit to what we can accomplish! Psalm 20:4 says, “May [God] grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” God plants His dream in our heart to fulfill His purpose on earth.
Seven Dreamers From the Bible
The Bible is filled with examples of dreamers who furthered God’s plans for the world. One of them was Abraham. Abraham dreamed of having children, but after years of marriage, his wife could not conceive. The Lord’s plan was not deterred. He promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4), with more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). And he did! Through this bloodline, God sent His Son to save all mankind.
Joseph was also a dreamer. At pivotal points in his life, prophetic visions either got him into trouble or they took him back out of it. His earliest recorded dream involved leadership. It was a dream that would sustain him until God brought it to fulfillment at the proper time. Eventually God raised up Joseph to provide for his own people and to lead the nation of Egypt into God’s provision through a series of dreams and unlikely events.
With the Lord’s help, Joshua dreamed of conquering the Promised Land for the nation of Israel. Not only did God fulfill this dream, but He also allowed Joshua to lead the nation—encouraging him along the way (Joshua 1:1-9). Solomon dreamed of wisdom with which to lead the people of Israel. The Lord blessed him with even more than what he asked for. Because of the Lord’s blessing, Solomon was able to build the magnificent temple of the Lord (1 Kings 3:1-15; 1 Kings 6).
From the confines of exile, Nehemiah dreamed of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His heart yearned for the remnant of his people in Judah, but his circumstances seemed to prevent him. He served as the cupbearer of a foreign king, separated from his people and his homeland. The Lord blessed Nehemiah’s dream by providing a way for him to return to Jerusalem and to help his people (Nehemiah 1–2).
Esther dreamed of saving her people from certain destruction at the hands of Haman. At first, she was fearful. She doubted whether she would have the courage to risk her life by appearing before the king. So she fasted and instructed the people to join her. In the end, with the help of the Lord, Esther played a critical part in saving her people (Esther 7). Fear does not exclude us from serving the Lord powerfully. He will meet us where we are and equip us for the task at hand if we place our trust in Him.
Saul was a trailblazer who dreamed of defending the traditional Jewish religion. He wanted to cleanse Judea of the blasphemers who called themselves Christians. But Christ challenged him with a new dream. On the road to Damascus, the Lord transformed his heart and changed his name from Saul to Paul (Acts 9:1-9). God used this man to further the Gospel and spread the Church throughout the Middle East and Europe. No matter what our past has been, no matter what dreams we have pursued, God can transform our passion for His will.
Building Our Dreams on the Lord
God has created us to yearn for more—He has created us for eternity. We will never feel fully satisfied in this life because His dream for us stretches into the hereafter. God has placed a desire in each of our hearts to dream big. He has had a plan and a purpose for each of us since the dawn of creation. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
As we set goals for the future, one way to keep God first is to seek godly counsel—from the Lord and also from Christian mentors in our life. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
When our dreams are in the Lord’s will, we can accomplish great things in His name. With our world experiencing so much hurt, there are countless opportunities to reach others with the Gospel. People are searching for the hope that we have, and we can provide it to them by sharing the love of Christ. Let us use the unexpected turns of this year as a reminder to always look to our Father when making our plans. Today, let us reset our life and build our dreams firmly on the Lord—continually trusting Him to guide our steps through uncharted territories and uncertain times. Let’s commit to dreaming big for God!