While the American idea of “chasing your dreams” can lead to an endless series of romanticized and unsatisfying pursuits, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a certain responsibility for those in Christ to be filled with dreams and remain in a posture of confident hope.
Where many of us readily espouse that there is a God who knows and loves us, it’s more difficult to determine whether or not He cares about what we care about. Or, more importantly – whether we care about what He cares about. On a broad scale, we’re OK with that idea. But when we start to get specific, it can get uncomfortable.
We light up when we read the prophet Jeremiah’s declaration that God has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” But when I sit down with friends and ask them about those plans, this is when we start to get a little squeamish. We start to get a little nervous and uncomfortable when talking about the actual ideas, dreams, and callings that stir within us.
Sometimes we think God only cares about our dreams if they involved world missions, freeing slaves, or any endeavor that has the word “ministry” tagged on it with a fancy logo and website. But what about everything else that burns on our hearts?
How are you supposed to know if God cares about your new-found obsession with hand carving wooden spoons?
Or your idea for a fictional novel involving intergalactic time travel?
Or your dream to be an all-state point guard for your high school basketball team?
Or that gut feeling you have about the next revolution in bluegrass music?
Or your desire to have a big enough living space to host friends and family?
The funny thing is – when we casually talk about these things to friends we light up, but when start asking God about these things we often default to a timid “…not my will, but yours be done.”
Does God want us nervously guessing about these things? Does He intend to withhold His plans from us? Is this a cosmic game of hide and seek?
As with all things faith-related, there is no formula. But when we read the Gospels, it’s interesting to note how Jesus instructs his disciples. He doesn’t seem too concerned with making sure they know exactly what to do. He assumes they have desires of their own and He expects to hear about them.
Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 21:22 – “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
John 15:7 – “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Really? That’s it, Jesus? No other parameters, conditions, or limitations? Can you be a little more specific with us? Are there things we shouldn’t be asking about? Are there certain desires and dreams that are more “spiritual” than others?
Immediately, because of previous negative experiences, we get nervous with these verses because we don’t want to be that guy who asks for a Lamborghini. In a posture of humility, we don’t want the Father to think we are manipulating Him or using Him for selfish gain.
But the pendulum has swung. Now, we face another problem that may even be worse. We’ve shrunk our dreams to what seems appropriate. And for many, we’ve stopped asking for anything at all.
Jesus wasn’t concerned His disciples would “over-ask”. He was more determined to make sure His disciples were a people of great desire, big dreams, and bold faith.
His only caveat was “abide in me”. Stay close to Him. Listen to Him. It sure seems like Jesus trusts us more than we trust ourselves.
It’s important to note we ARE called to be disciples – walking in step with his leading and obedient to His direction. On the other hand, Jesus seems to indicate the ball is in our court to be dreamers – asking of Him with bold faith. God’s responsibility is to lead. Our responsibility is to dream.
Obviously, no one knows the fullness of God’s plans or how He intends to work them out in our lives, which is why “abiding” is an important word. And yes, the Father often redirects us in our dreams and can respond with a “no” or a “not yet”. But He cannot respond if we are never bold enough to ask.
Believe me, I’m not advocating that Jesus is the Magic Bullet and I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a genie in a lamp who poofs out to grant us our three wishes. But it does sure seem like the Scripture is not opposed to us being in a place of believing for great things.
So with that said, what are you asking for?
For more on this, you can listen to a talk I did a few weeks ago on the same topic…