How do you know if you have a God dream or a big goal that you came up with on your own?
This weekend I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time. It is the story of P.T. Barnum and his dream of starting a museum, later turned circus, for the main purpose of entertaining people. He ended up doing so much more.
If you have not seen it yet, you need to put it on your list of must-see movies. As soon as the movie was over, I wanted to watch it all over again. In fact, I am sure this will be one of the movies that I will watch several times a year, it was that inspiring.
Though P.T. was not a Christian, there are some characteristics about him we can learn from, especially as it relates to dreaming.
Disclaimer: My main goal is to inspire you to do one thing… seek God as you dream. And to do it in a way that aligns with scripture, like Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” and not become like P.T. Barnum. Because at the end of the day all Barnum cared about was making money. That is not why we seek to be used by God, even if it is a by-product of accomplishing the dream.
The Status Quo
Here is what I have been witnessing lately: a lot of people who profess Christ as their Savior, but living a life of the day-to-day expecting nothing more than what they have and no longer willing to consider what could be.
Personally, I think this is an affront to God, the Creator of the Universe, who made all things, who is in all things and is through all things. He dreamed up the light and the darkness, the heavens and the earth, the sky and the land, every living creature and man.
God is a God who dreams and as being made in His likeness, in HIs image, we should dream too. Otherwise, we put to death Ephesians 3:20 and effectively allow the enemy to yield us powerless in seeing the miracles of God.
Now, let me also state, I have learned this over the last seven years. So yes my words may feel a bit blunt, but understand that I used to live where you may be, in the camp of “maybe He can do those things, but not through me.”
What Could Be
But for the purpose of this post, as much as possible, I want you to take captive those thoughts and I want you to see what could be rather than what now is. Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Faith and dreaming go hand-in-hand because we don’t dream of things we can see, we dream of what is unseen, or what could be, eventually.
So that is where I want us to begin, realizing what God can do through us if we are willing acting like Him and dreaming. When we have faith in what He can do and not rely on what we can do.
Which is exactly what Barnum did. He dreamed of things that could be and not what already was. So let’s use some examples from what he did to break down how a God dream works.
8 Steps to A God Dream
Here is one area thing, we don’t know if P.T. did, for sure. But that we MUST do as Christians; it is non-negotiable. The only way you are going to see a God-dream is to seek the Creator Himself. To do this, you will need to implore a few different disciplines. Bible study, prayer, possibly fasting, patience. God-dreams do not happen overnight, it is usually something that happens over time.
2. Ask Yourself Some Questions
Anyone who is starting to dream needs to take some time to figure out the next steps are in the process. This will help you to gain a better perspective on whether or not you are headed in the right direction. Here are some examples to get you started. But add more and journal them as you go.
- Where were you when the dream occurred? Both physically and spiritually.
- Did the dream feel overwhelming and unaccomplishable?
- Do you believe you could accomplish the dream by yourself with the right financial resource?
3. Are You Afraid?
When God gives you a dream, more than likely the first emotion you will feel is fear. Rightly so. It’s why so frequently you see in scripture where God said, “Do not be afraid.”
When He told Moses He was going to use him to set His people, the Israelites, free Moses was terrified. When the angel told Mary that she would carry the Son of God, he told her “Do not be afraid.” When Nehemiah got word that his city was in ruined he was so upset that he cried, mourned and prayed, and then waited until God opened the door for him to speak to the king. He was scared but did it afraid.
Anytime you have a God-dream, you will be afraid. But you’ll have to decide if the fear of man or obeying God is more important to you. Barnum was afraid at first but was willing to be brave and because of it, he saw his dream become a reality.
4. Sacrifice is Key
Barnum learned quickly that if he was going to see his dream come into existence he was going to have to be willing to sacrifice. For him, it meant all or nothing. For me, in the early stages of founding The Link of Cullman County, it also meant all or nothing. I am not going to say that this is true for everyone, however, it was also true for our friends in the Bible. Moses left the safety of Midian and his employment, Mary left her family and traveled on a donkey nine months pregnant, and Nehemiah – well, let’s face it, if the king was angered at what he said, he could have lost his head.
You will have to be willing to sacrifice something – possibly everything to see your God-dream come to fruition.
5. Your Kingdom or His Kingdom
There is a part in The Greatest Showman where Barnum loses it all. His money, his wife and children, his prize artist (at the time), and his building. They all went figuratively and literally up in flames.
The question he had to ask himself at that moment was whether or not he was ready to rebuild it all. The answer came down not to whether or not he was able to provide the funds on his own, but whether or not it would help the greater good.
Whose kingdom are you trying to build? Will this dream make you look good to your peers, your family, your friends? Or are you willing to pursue the dream because, in the end, you know that God will get the glory in it? How do you know the difference? The Bible says it is in our weakness that God’s strength is made perfect. Are you relying on your own strength, believing you can do this on your own, or do you realize it’s going to be a miracle done by God if this dream is coming to become a reality? Which leads us to the next area of importance.
6. An Individual or a Community
If your dream is a God dream, you will not be able to accomplish on your own and not only need God to do a miracle, but you will have to have others around you. God is a believer in community. He is in community constantly with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He could not accomplish what He did without them. The Apostle Paul talked about community and the importance of it almost every one of his epistles, which helps us to also understand the significance of it to God’s heart. I spoke about this in my post last week. God did not just love one person, His love was for a nation. That nation went into bondage together and flourished together depending on their relationship with God.
You need others to help your dream come to fruition. They will add to it, speak life into it, pray for it, keep you accountable to it, and make it better than it could have been if you tried to do it on your own.
7. Empowering Others
I loved The Greatest Showman – all of it, but one of my favorite parts is when the Bearded Lady realized she was who she was and people were going to have to deal with it. Keala Settle plays, the Bearded Woman and sings this anthem called “This is Me.
Here is the link to that video, you’ll have to click on the “This is Me” video. If you have not heard this song, go listen to it. It will be a blessing to you, I promise.
But that song is the result of Barnum affirming people who others wanted to hide in the shadows. He saw their oddities, their uniqueness, and placed it on a platform. He accepted them as they were and because of that they felt affirmed. When he started seeing His dream come to fruition, the people he served felt loved, affirmed, and dignified. It ended up empowering people to be who they were created to be, not how society wanted to define them.
This is ultimately what a God-dream should do. There is no larger dream or vision than the one God dreamed for us, by sending His son Jesus to ransom us back to Him. It is only through Him that we have our dignity affirmed. We are righteous only through Him. We are worthy because of the stripes of Jesus.
8. God’s Dreams > Our Own
This is what it all boils down to when it comes to dreaming. God’s dreams will always be bigger than our own. They will and should scare us, we should need other people and it should affect other people. That’s how you know it’s Him and not you.
So now that you have a way to know whether you dream is from God or from you, what do you do? Join me next week to learn how you take your dream and seek God to see it through.
Question? Did this help you gauge your dream against a God-dream? If not, what questions do you have? If it did, what do you want to know now that I can answer for you next week?