Last summer I taught a Bible Study on Joseph (you know they techno-colored coat guy). Joseph was a dreamer. In fact, we often refer to Joseph as “Joseph the Dreamer” because God did, in fact, give Joseph dreams at an early age and later allowed him the ability to interpret dreams.
Through the course of the study, I challenged women to remember the dreams God gave them in the past. We began to talk about the way God allows some of those dreams to unfold in a way and a time that we don’t expect. The dreams God puts on our hearts are important and should be acknowledged. However, if we expect God to fulfill those dreams on our time-table we will likely be disappointed.
Would it surprise you if I suggested that sometimes dreams unfold at a point when we’ve almost quit dreaming or even forgotten about the dream? What I mean is…we can’t just sit around waiting on the dream. We have to get to work–we have to live. Often when God puts a dream in our heart, our character isn’t ready for the realization of the dream. God-given dreams are exciting but outside of God’s timing they are conspicuously out-of-place.
I recently read a great illustration by an author I used to enjoy back in college. I picked up one of her books and found this illustration that fits with this train of thought:
It’s like wearing a stunning evening dress to work. It may look marvelous, but it’s glaringly out-of-place. That overshadows the beauty of the dress and, sadly the outfit does not obtain the appreciation it deserves.
Joseph wore a fantastic coat but it was highly impractical for the work he did as a young teenager. He was out in the fields, wearing a coat that wasn’t designed for work in the fields. The coat and the dreams were great but they were in the wrong place and time.
As we continued our walk through the life of Joseph, I challenged my women to seek God and see what He was doing with the dreams He put on their hearts so long ago. As is usually the case, God spoke to me (the teacher) in a powerful way. I really began to sense God stirring my heart and challenging me to get out of my comfortable spot and see what else He wanted to do in and through me.
I have to admit at that time (without realizing it), I found myself almost complacent–believing God had taken me as far as He was going to–almost as if there were not more dreams to be realized in my life. I believe He spoke to me in a real way to say “Bobi Ann, I’m not done with you. There is more that I have planned.” It might sound silly or prideful but I had inadvertently allowed myself to believe I was at the place God would continue to use me indefinitely .
Following this realization, I began to spend serious time seeking God in prayer about what He wanted from me, asking Him what was next and I believe He gave me answers. It is what sparked the start of this blog and my slow process of writing a book.
I believe it is important to dream and plan for the future. However, I also have come to recognize some of the pitfalls that one must be careful. The danger of dreaming is getting ahead of God. The resounding truth that God keeps putting in front of me in recent days is the part of Joseph’s story that I didn’t let speak to me (though I did teach on) until recently.
God gave Joseph a dream in his late teens but Joseph didn’t see that dream fulfilled until his 40’s. So, what did Joseph do during that time? He was faithful with what God put in front of him. Joseph didn’t focus so much on what could be but instead in dealing with what was. He was being faithful with what was right in front of him.
Here is an example:
I’ve recently had conversations with some women in my life that are going through some tough circumstances involving their home life and health. They are faithful women that love God. During this particular season, they haven’t been able to be as involved at church and in ministry as they usually are. On separate occasions, each of them has come to me distraught over the fact they have not been able to do more. They want to serve but have found themselves having to deal with their life circumstances. They felt guilty and were sure I was going to be disappointed with them.
I wasn’t disappointed with them. I knew their circumstances and though some of the ministries they were involved with weren’t moving as fast as we had hoped, I knew that they were still faithful. They were being faithful with what God had put in front of them. Were they looking for a diagnosis of cancer for themselves or a loved one? Did they expect the full impact of what a particular child might bring to their home? No. Yet, it is what God put in front of them.
Is their ministry still vital? Yes! Does God still have a plan to use them in it? I believe He does. Is God still unfolding His plan for the ministry they are part of even while their circumstances have altered their attention or slowed the progress? Absolutely.
We need to let go of our plan and our time-table and realize that God is still very much at work and we are still very much part of His plan.
God wants to make changes in our hearts and ready others for what He’s doing. When He gets all the pieces in place and we show up in that beautiful evening gown, it will all make sense and fall into place. We will appreciate His perfect plan.
Being a dreamer is fun and honors God but only if we let God be in charge of unfolding the dream.
Question: How have you seen God unfold His plan in unexpected ways?