We all grow up believing we can do whatever we set our minds to, until we reach the 3rd Grade and someone says, "Uh. That's stupid. You can't do that."
But what if those dreams weren’t just childish fantasies? What if God imprinted those dreams on your heart early in life so they’d take deep root, which, if fostered (watered) would someday grow to be your epic calling?
Speaking of chasing your dreams, did you know that, aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly? Someone apparently forgot to tell that to the bumblebee in the 3rd grade when it was dreaming of flying, so it’s just been flying its awesome self since then!
My point? It’s time to dream again.
The question of course is, how do you know if you’re chasing the right dream? Better yet, what are you to do with dreams, visions, premonitions, or any other means you feel God is mysteriously trying to communicate with you today about your future?
I’ll answer that by introducing you to a 17-year old dreamer. His name is Joseph. Let’s call him, Joe.
Joe once dreamed that God would make him a great leader, one so important that his dad, mom (and 3 stepmoms, along with about a dozen or so half-siblings) would someday defer to him for leadership counsel. But Joseph was a dumb teenage at the time and went about the initial interpretation of the dream the wrong way. The first mistake he made was opening his mouth. He gathered his sibling and his father and essentially told them, “Hey everyone, FYI, God showed me in a dream that someday I’m going to become so powerful and famous that you all will come seeking my help and wisdom.”
Like I said, dumb teenager.
It’s worth pointing out here that Joe came from a dysfunctional family. His dad had an issue with telling the truth. His moms were in constant [unhealthy] competition for his dad’s affection and attention. His brothers had anger issues, and one of them had an incestual relationship with one of his father’s wives. In their narrative, you’ll uncover murder, incest, rape, hatred, jealousy, sibling rivalry and competition, passivity, toxicity, and insecurity. Needless to say, this Biblical family had some skeletons in their closet. To make matters worse [for Joe], his father singled him out as a favorite among his siblings, which certainly didn't endear him to his bros!
I point all this out so you understand what happens next (and how your dreams sometimes need to die first before they can be resurrected into action). When Joe shares his God-given dream with his siblings, their unhealthy relationship with him turns toxic, then deadly. Out of spite, the brothers at first try to kill him, but change their minds last minute and instead sell him into slavery.
But God is still on Joe's side. In slavery, God favors him and he excels. He works his way up to the position of house manager in the home of a wealthy military officer named, Potiphar.
The dream is alive again, right? Wrong.
Mrs. Potiphar apparently wasn’t getting enough sexual attention from her husband and needed a Jewish boy toy to fool around with. After several failed attempts, she corners Joe one afternoon and tries to force herself on him. Joe does the honorable thing, rejects her aggressive advances, and flees the scene.
Angry that Joe won’t play her sex games, she reports him to her husband, falsely accusing Joe of trying to seduce her. Needless to say, Potiphar is furious and Joe is thrown in jail.
Dream dead again.
In prison however, Joe distinguishes himself and God grants him the supernatural ability to interpret dreams. Those skills come in handy in the release of a royal palace member Joe interprets a dream for. Joe expects a favor in return, but he is forgotten in prison.
Several years pass. Still, nothing comes of the initial dream from age seventeen. Joe simply lounges in prison.
Fortunately, two years later, the pharaoh of Egypt has a bad dream. The royal palace member Joe helped several years earlier recalls Joe’s dream interpreting skills and has him summoned. Before the meeting, God gives Joe the inside story. Joe appears before Pharaoh and does an outstanding Job interpreting the king’s dream, as well as proposing a solution for the problem the dream presented.
Pharaoh is not only blown away by Joe's skill set, but also deeply impressed. So impressed that he appoints Joe as prime minister, and makes him second-in-command over all of Egypt!
The dream lives!
By the way, Joe was 30-years old when he received this appointment (incase you're counting, that’s 13 long years after the initial promise in his dream). Keep in mind though, this is only half-fulfillment of the dream. Sure, he’s now someone great like he dreamed, but there’s also that whole deal about his siblings and father seeking his help. Remember that?
10 years after Joseph rises to power, a famine strikes the world and everyone is hungry, including Joe’s siblings who sold him into slavery many years earlier. They get news that food is available in Egypt and make the long journey to purchase some. Lo and behold, when they arrive, the chief officer of Egypt they have to buy groceries from is none other than Joe himself. Joe immediately recognizes them. Of course, they don’t recognize him because it’s been almost 20 years since they last saw him. That and the fact that they probably suspected he’d long been dead.
Without going into all the details, Joe plays a game of cat and mouse with them to see if they’ve changed or if they’re still the same ole dysfunctional-bro-selling-thugs they were when he last saw them. The brothers prove to have matured since that incident, and Joe tearfully reveals himself to them. Though he had every opportunity to avenge himself, he opted not to. Those long years of waiting had molded in him godly character, and besides, God had used what the brothers intended for evil to accomplish great good in his life. Joe ended up becoming the savior of his family; the very dream he had about his future when he was 17.
Some of you are like Joe.
God may have revealed some things to you in days, months, or years past. Whether through dreams, visions, Biblical revelation or a prophetic word from a trusted godly source, God may have planted a seed in your heart about where He intends to take you in future years. Maybe you were initially excited and occupied your time by readying yourself, but it’s been months, possibly years since the promise and nothing has yet to fruition.
Perhaps you’ve begun to despair? If you would, allow me to speak some encouragement into your life by pointing out three lessons from Joe’s story.
When it comes to God's will for our lives, you and I tend to think in terms of days, months, and years. God however, tends to work in terms of, generations. This doesn’t mean it will take several centuries for a promise to come true in your life, it simply means God is often thinking of a lot more people than just you.
In Joe’s case, his dream wasn’t just about him someday becoming great, it was about providing a means through which his whole family would be blessed. God had in mind the rescue of a whole nation (every Jew descends from Joe and his 11 brothers) when He revealed that dream to Joe at age 17. Hence, Joe's dream had a far-reaching impact than he imagined.
God has every intention of fulfilling His promise in your life. He swears by His own name that He will see it through. However, you need to keep in mind that He has every intention of making sure several others benefit from what He is going to do in your life.
So, fret not. Your delay may very well be a result of others being prepped to benefit from the fulfillment of God’s promised dreams in your life.
When I’m overseas, especially in third-world countries, time seems to slow down. When I show up for 1:00pm appointments, my guests often stroll in casually around 2:30pm, and they’re okay with it. But when I get back to the States, everything speeds up. Everything is due yesterday!
I think this need for speed in the Western hemisphere in the world has carried over into our faith, so much so that we expect God to answer our prayers at Internet speed. Hence, when we receive a promise from God, we expect Him to start implementing phase one of it by 11:23am the next day!
You've probably figured this out by now, but God is often not in a rush. I once heard Elevation Church pastor, Steven Furtick express the idea of God taking his time this way, “Between the promise [of God] and the payoff [of that promise], there is often a looooooonnng process! But the process IS the point!”
Think about that in the context of Joe's story. Though he received the promise at age 17, God had in mind that it wouldn't be implemented in his life till he was in his 30s. Had his brothers not sold him into slavery, chances are, Joe would still have had to wait as God have guided him through another life-route to his final destination in Egypt. Same holds true for many heroes of the faith in the Bible.
I hinted at this earlier, but often times, God shows us the exciting end-point early so it can stir in us a desire to chase after Him. In chasing after Him however, God uses that process to build in us, character, perseverance, and wisdom; all of which we will need when we arrive at the intended end-destination.
Did you catch that? The painful waiting and trials you go through is part of the very process that prepares you to excel when you get to where God is taking you! Hence, there is never a rush on God’s part.
Yes, you’re excited. Yes, God has just shown you what can be. Yes, it’s the greatest thing ever!
NO, don’t post it online!
NO, don’t start making plans.
NO, don't share it with all your friends... yet.
Instead. Get on your knees and pray to confirm you actually heard from God. When you’re done praying, take a day or two to fast and pray about it some more. Then and only then should you share it with your most trusted [small] circle of friends who will also pray with you to discern if it is indeed from God.
Sounds like a lot of prayer, right?
Rest assured though, no man or woman of God who was ever used mightily by God ever complained that they prayed too much before God showed up and blessed their plans! The reason you should pray so much is because you desperately need the power of God to see through to the end the vision of God He has placed on your heart. You can't finish by might what began by the Spirit, for it's not by power, nor by might, but by the Spirit of God's power that heavenly plans are accomplished.
Please do not misunderstand this for passivity. There will be plenty of time to get up and act, but you first need to be certain through prayer that you’re running after the right dream.
While the scriptures tell us that there will be an increase of God-sent revelation through dreams and visions in the last days, there are also several warnings in the scriptures about basing your life decisions on just dreams.
God may very well give you dreams to warn you of impending danger [all the more reason why you should respond first by praying]. God may give you a dream to encourage and remind you that’s He’s still on schedule and will finish what He’s already begun. He certainly may even give you a glimpse of His future plans for you through dreams. But having been in ministry for almost two decades [and having listened to some bizarre stories of decisions people made as a result of a dream], I find that many dreams Christians claim to have are not supernatural revelations from heaven, but in fact, have a rather simple explanation.
I realize I’m about to burst a bubble I just spent this whole blog post building, but sometimes your dreams are vivid and dramatic simply because of that awful gas-station-sushi you ate last night. Sometimes your dreams are a result of a very graphic movie you watched before going to bed, or a very stressful workweek, or how uncomfortable your bed is and how hot or cold the room is! I’ve had dreams where I felt I was being oppressed by a spiritual entity only to wake up to find my son’s cold feet thumping my face.
I say all of that so that you may be discerning when it comes to chasing your dreams. I also say all that to say, the Bible is ALWAYS the final authority on any and every revelation from God. If your dreams don’t fit what the word of God already says, then you must reject the dream!
Of course, this blog post assumes that your dreams are in alignment with God's truth in His word. For if they are, then you my friend, need to take a hint from the bumblebee!
It's time to dream again.