I like to keep things that help me remember the things that matter: people, moments, jokes, events. Compared to some of my friends, I have a pretty good memory. However, even with that, I still keep these mementos. It’s as if one of these days I will wake up with a chunk of my memory inaccessible. I don’t want to forget; therefore, I keep things.
The problem with that is, I end up keeping weird things even after the importance and meaning of them has faded. I found a stack of paper in my room the other day. There were scribbles and notes, but they were no longer important. The event these papers were meant to remind me of has come and gone. Yet the stack of papers were still there, taking up my space.
Oftentimes in life, we hang on to things long after we are supposed to. Honestly, it’s not unlike keeping milk in the fridge even after the expiration date. We then try to smell and taste it and often wonder how something so good ended up so nasty. I don’t want to get too graphic in my description of spoiled milk, so let’s leave that analogy there before it breaks down.
I want to talk today about dreams. When God calls people, often it is accompanied by a dream. (No, not the kind your subconscious projects in the big screen during your slumber.) I’m talking about desires, goals, and ambitions. When God called Abraham to follow him without a clear explanation of a destination, he gave Abraham the dream that his descendants were going to be numerous. When God called Moses, the dream was to lead the people of God out of Egypt. When God called Israel, the dream was to be a kingdom set apart.
There are times in our lives when we hold on too tightly to the dream that God gave us initially. So much so that we miss when God has upgraded the dream, or perhaps added on an expansion pack.
For some, it sort of feels as if we’ve failed in the original dream, when in fact what God is doing is giving us an expanded dream which will include the original one. Sort of a two for the price of one deal. To a certain extent, Joseph experienced this. He had an actual dream of his family bowing down to him, but he got sold into slavery and then ended up in prison for quite a while. That wasn’t the dream that God had given him originally, that’s for sure. We of course know the end of the story and we know that's not the way his story ends. However, Joseph had to struggle with the feeling that his dreams would never come to pass. He had to struggle with the doubt that those dreams had really been from God at all. The fulfillment of the dream was actually above and beyond what he originally imagined. When you have the time, glance through Genesis 37 to 44. (It took him eight chapters to get to the fulfillment!) The scope of his dream was originally only about who was the boss of whom. God’s expansion pack included a position, a family, a very trusting boss, and the opportunity to save not just his family, but the communities and nations around him. How amazing is that?!?
For the rest of us, we are actually already living in the original dream and either we don’t notice it, or we’re struggling with fear, or we’re just too comfortable to step out and step into God’s next phase. Crossing the Red Sea was probably such a rush of adrenaline that the Israelites were pretty certain that they had achieved their goal- to escape oppression in Egypt. However, God’s expansion plan was more than just getting out of Egypt and even more than relocating to a new land. God’s plan was to set them apart from other people groups, for them to become God’s chosen people. It took them a while to get there and to become comfortable with that idea. Eventually, it was so ingrained in their culture that they weren’t able to comprehend that God could possibly upgrade the dream (again). God intended for salvation to come from the Jews, but to be shared with the world.
My point is this: God often gives us the plan in pieces. We don't see it from start to finish as he does. He gives us dreams and then he upgrades them. Then he gives us a bigger one. And then an even bigger one. However, we often get comfortable with the old dream and we refuse to accept the expansion pack. We keep the old dream lying around and let it become clutter. I’m not saying that our dreams are clutter or spoiled milk or that we’re supposed to trash those original dreams. (See? This analogy breaks down very easily.) What I’m saying is that God has new mercies, new revelations. Don’t be content with living only in the context of the old one.
What if God is trying to expand your dream?
What if He wants to give you new ones?
Rather than focusing on ourselves and what we want to do and how we want to do it, let's refocus on God and the dreams He wants to put in each of us. It’s always been a journey of faith, one trusting step after another. One God-given dream to the next. Let's journey on.