Photo by Kaitlyn McCaul
As a Christian, and perhaps even as an unbeliever, God has put certain hopes and dreams deep within our heart – thoughts, ideas, aspirations – of what could be… if only. Some of us are able to see those dreams come to pass, but others of us are bound by fear, wounds, lack of confidence and other limitations. Others have had those dreams crushed and shattered as a result of failure, acting out in the flesh or through the thoughtlessness or viciousness of others. However, I’m here to tell you today that God is a restorer of dreams. It may be God Himself that has given you that dream that He wants to resurrect, or He wants to instill a new one, or perhaps help you dig down to the recesses of your soul and spirit and discover it for the first time.
The dream God has given you is essential to your well-being. The Bible says, “Without a vision, people live carelessly.” Proverbs 29:18. Your vision, your dream, your God-given motivation in life is what will drive you. It will give you energy. It will give you the will-power and motivation to overcome temptations and press through difficult times. With no dream it’s easy to give up or fall into the mundane, day-to-day living and end up wasting your life on earth and not leaving the mark God intended you to leave on the lives of others. However, your God-given dream is not just for yourself.
The dream God has given you is essential to the completion of His purpose on earth – the establishing of His Kingdom. No matter how “secular” the dream you feel is, as long as it’s not sinful, it can be used to glorify God and fulfill His eternal purpose. You are part of the many-membered Body of Christ. Who you are and what you do is significant – essential. Every member of the Body of Christ counts.
Your dream will be more than you can accomplish in your own strength – it will take faith and God’s ability. It will be something beyond your reach that will stretch you into new arenas; pull you out of your comfort zone and help you to trust God at a new level.
In order for God’s purpose to be fully established on earth, He must penetrate the following areas of society with Spirit-filled believers:
Religion: We must have people who have a passion for God’s purpose and holiness leading religion. People must be brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens by being added to the Universal Church as well as the Local Church.
Education: Education has tremendous influence on society. We must have Christians involved in every aspect of education.
Government: It goes without saying the power of influence of government. We need Christians involved in all aspects of government.
Entertainment: Entertainment includes sports, music, drama and the arts in every form, including writing and publishing books.
Media: Media includes radio, TV, newspaper, internet and any other form of communicating information to the world.
Societal Relationships: Social relationships involve how families relate to one another, workers relate to one another as well as how society relates to one another in every way.
Business: God is the God of innovation and success. We need Christians in every aspect of business and open to God giving them creative business ideas.
So you see, your God-given dream will surely fit somewhere in the scope of what God is trying to do on earth.
Joseph: A Dream Crushed and Restored
The Bible is full of many men and women who received a dream from God – either a “night dream”, “day vision”, or prophetic word or inner passion – but Joseph is an example of a man who received a dream from God, saw the dream to apparently be destroyed and then restored again in God’s perfect timing.
If you think about it, Joseph grew up in a very dysfunctional family. He would be the least likely to succeed, but then on the other hand, that seems to be the kind of person God has chosen to be His powerful instruments of change in the world:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world; things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom. As the Scriptures say, “The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Look at Joseph’s family:
- His father had four wives – all at one time.
- Infighting between the wives and children – what kind of atmosphere do you think that created in the family?
- Rape, murder, lies, deception, prostitution and incest among his immediate family members.
For many of us that would not only knock us out of the running for a dream from God but set us up for a life-time of emotional counseling – dealing with the internal issues of growing up in a family like that. Can you relate?
As a seventeen-year old boy whose Prefrontal Cortex of his brain has not been fully developed (the part that helps you make good decisions and foresee the end result of a decision), Joseph “tattle-taled” on his brothers – that didn’t help their already fragile relationship. His father also showed personal favoritism to Joseph, probably spoiling him and clearly showing greater love for Joseph than the other sons (I’ve heard from Marriage and Family Therapists that these isn’t a good practice to follow!). This created not just an irritation towards him on behalf of his brothers, but a deep-seated hatred. Nevertheless, Joseph received a dream from God – a promise for the future of how he would play a role in God’s eternal plan for mankind (just like you!). His dream showed him that eventually he would be lifted up to a prominent position and even his brothers and parents would recognize his prominence and give him honor. Again, with the Prefrontal Cortex problem, Joseph shared his dream to his family. He was hated even more by his brothers, and the dream irritated his father, but Jacob nevertheless kept these strange matters in the back of his mind.
Joseph’s brothers hated him so much they actually conspired to kill him, but then relented and only sold him as a slave and as a seventeen year-old boy ended up in a foreign country not knowing the language, culture, no family, no source of income – how would that affect you? What words would you use to describe what Joseph’s emotional state could have been?
Angry? Bitter? Fearful? Rejected? Worthless? Low Self-Esteem? Trust issues? Need to prove himself that he really has value? Abandoned? Confused? Visionless? Shamed? Lonely?
These kinds of emotions lead to huge relationship problems, not to mention cause us to respond by becoming a workaholic, angry person, going through one relationship after another, being defensive, overbearing, not trusting, suicidal. What Joseph went through would cause huge life-dominating problems for most people. Nevertheless, “The Lord was with him.” Genesis 39:2 Also, “The Lord made all in his hand prosper.” Genesis 39:3. This is huge for us: Even though we go through a most terrible childhood or have horrendous family or relationship issues – “the Lord is with us, and will make us prosper” if we keep our heart right – focused on Him.
Joseph found favor with one of Pharaoh’s dignitaries and was eventually promoted as a manager in his house. He fought off the sexual advances of the man’s wife because he had core values and a faith in God he refused to violate regardless of the short-term benefits, Genesis 39:9. But eventually he was framed and put in jail. What words would you use to describe Joseph’s possible state of mind now? His dream was crushed, resurrected and crushed again! But, again, “The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor…” Genesis 39:21. He continued to keep his heart right in the most pressing of circumstances and with the appearance of an absolute hopeless future and he was promoted again, while in jail.
Eventually, God helped Joseph interpret the dreams of two fellow inmates, both servants of Pharaoh. One was released and promised to put in a good word for Joseph and try to get him out of jail, but of course never followed through on his promise. Has that ever happened to you? Broken promises? Your hopes raised, and then dashed to the ground again? How much more can this young man take until he completely rejects God and becomes darkened in his soul and spirit? Many of us would become that way after the first or second set-back of such magnitude!
Nevertheless, he was eventually released from prison and elevated to the highest position of leadership besides that of Pharaoh, just as God had promised thirteen years earlier. He waited it out. He held his faith and hope. He kept himself in a position mentally and emotionally to receive the promise and fulfillment of his dream. That’s not to say he didn’t waver in faith at times, nor experience temporary discouragement or hopelessness, nor have to deal with the trauma and dysfunction of his family – but he found God in the midst of it and the dream came to pass!
After toying with the idea of revenge on his brothers when they came to Egypt to buy food during a famine (Genesis 42), look at his final perspective:
As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families.” And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.
Summary of Joseph’s Life
Joseph, a young man only seventeen years old, living in a very dysfunctional family where there was physical, emotional and sexual abuse, received a dream from God – Creator of the Universe. It was a vision; a hope; a calling; a mission; an assignment. Just as he embraced the dream it was dashed to pieces – shattered. He found himself in a foreign country, rejected by the family that was supposed to nurture him to maturity and provide a safe place in life. He was abandoned and without hope. Not only once, but three times was his vision and hopes ground to dust. Yet, somehow, he held his faith. He must have known the promises that the write of the Book of Hebrews know:
You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail. When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity. Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.
Somewhere, deep down in his spirit, he knew the Word of God and the God of the Word. He didn’t know when and he didn’t know how, but he knew that God was faithful and works all things together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Application to Our Lives
Perhaps you’re like Joseph. Perhaps you had a dream from God – a hope, calling or prophetic word. This is the year to revisit that promise and call it to resurrection. I’d like to recommend four steps to insure you are on the path for God’s dreams to be restored in your life, beginning now!
- Believe God has a dream for you. This is often the most difficult for us. Who are we? Look at our failures, our past history, or lack of (fill in the blank). “I’m really messed up.” “I’ve forfeited my dream by bad decisions.” My friend, if God can use a man who went through what Joseph went through, He can certainly restore your dream! Remember this:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!
For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Romans 11:29
You may have given up on yourself, but God has not given up on you! Remember, what you have to contribute to God’s eternal plan and purpose is not insignificant! It may seem like only a small part to you, but the role your dream plays may be a pivotal part of what God intends to do in your family, region or nation.
- Declare your dream. Here’s another difficult one. When you don’t really believe God has a dream for you. When you feel hopeless and rejected you really don’t feel like declaring it. However, speaking forth God’s promises – verbally, not just in your mind – is a critical part of breaking through. The spoken word is a power factor in our salvation experience. As you speak the promises of God and begin to say what God says about you and your situation you begin to change and your circumstances begin to change. This is faith in action.
Salvation that comes from trusting Christ–which is the message we preach–is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:8-11
Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Teacher! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, `May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it. Mark 11:21-24
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak. 2 Corinthians 4:13
Your future is in your mouth. You can see your future and dream restored by the confession of your mouth or you can see it buried. We simply must say what God says not what we think or feel. It’s a matter of life and death.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
- Get in alignment for God’s dream to be restored. If we live outside the parameters God gives us for a successful Christian life, we run the risk of aborting the restoration of our dream. God gives us parameters for a healthy and successful life and the wise person will live within those parameters. Those parameters include:
- Get in a local church and submit to your leaders
- Read the Bible regularly and thoughtfully and try to apply it to your daily life
- Get involved with a small group of like-minded people who can encourage one another in their walk with God
- Get involved in some ministry. If you always sit on the sidelines for whatever excuse you give, your dream doesn’t have a chance to grow and mature.
- Obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in thoughts, pictures, dreams, and words of other people, songs, impulses and other ways. The thoughts of God are usually the first thought that comes into our mind. If we procrastinate or hesitate, the impulse is gone and we’ve missed the opportunity. God will show us the first step and often it will not make sense. He rarely shows us the second or third step until we take the first one. Following God and walking by the Holy Spirit involves risk (faith). Prayerfully, depending on God and trying to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit’s further promptings, step out and do what you feel God is telling you to do. Overcome fear and step out. His vision and dream will be more and clearer one step of obedience at a time!
Take a blank piece of paper and write out the dream God has given you. It may already be a solid thought in your mind or it may be only a hope hidden in your heart, “I would hope that someday God would use me to …”
Begin to pray your God-given dream into existence and see God use you in the coming years.