Deep in our hearts, God reveals desires, goals, and aspirations. Maybe it’s to launch a company, to write a book, or start a youth ministry. There are dreams woven into the fabric of who we are, the desires of our hearts.
But there is one big problem with God-given dreams. He asks for them back. Consider Abraham. God calls him away from his home and promises to make him into a great nation, with as many descendants as stars in the sky. (This was beautifully captured on Sunday in episode 1 of History Channel’s new miniseries “The Bible”)
God provides the means for this dream, as he gives Abraham and Sarai a son named Isaac. In their old age, this couple watched God do a miracle. The dream was in motion.
Years passed, and then God does the unspeakable. He calls Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Yes, that means killing his boy, and killing the dream of fathering a nation as well. God had the audacity to ask Abraham for his dream back.
Can you imagine what ran through Abraham’s mind? “God, You are the one that gave me my son in the first place. You can’t take him now! I’ve invested my whole life in this. This is my dream. Are you crazy!”
Maybe you’re a pastor, and God has given you a vision for leading lots of people into a community of faith, hope, and love. Perhaps God called you to use your entrepreneurial skills to launch a new business or non-profit. Maybe God has gifted you to be a great artist, and you sense His calling to share it with the world.
No matter how certain you are that God inspired your dream, you have to hand it back to him. No matter how good and pure the desire is, there comes a time to surrender it. Just like Abraham had to put his own son back on the altar, so we must release our God-given dream back to the One who gave it.
Why? Without this kind of surrender, our dream will become the thing we hope and long for, while God slips to the background. As leaders, we can’t put our vision before the One that inspired it. Our dream can’t become our hope. Only God occupies that role.
For the pastor, it might sound like “I’ll lead faithfully with however many you bring, even if it’s less than I envisioned.” For the aspiring artist, it’s relinquishing the need to make it big and famous.
Most of us know the rest of Abraham’s story. At the last moment, God stops him from making the sacrifice. His son was spared, and the dream to father a nation lived on too.
Are you in the middle of living out a God-given dream? Are you frustrated by the slow progress? Overwhelmed by the magnitude of it? Is your hope fading because you haven’t seen it fulfilled?
Remember the words of Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It says delight in God, not delight in the dream God gave you.
As leaders, we must stay patient, persevere, and draw near to God –In His timing, dreams are made realities.
Specifically for youth pastors and leaders, what “dreams” in leadership have you had to surrender back to God? How have you seen God at work in this difficult process?