I feel like I’m writing this post on a week that represents so much for American history. On Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King, a man who dared to broadcast an audacious dream for the nation. And on Friday, January 21, 2017 we will watch our new President take office – a man who some have said represents the very opposite of what MLK stood for: unity, hope, end equality.
While there’s been a lot of uproar about what America’s future could look like, I desired to hear God’s heart. The truth is, God’s dreams – the dreams he has uniquely planted in our hearts – remain the same. We are still called to pursue them regardless of who is in the Oval Office. Rather than focus on the uproar on the outside, we need to steward healthy hearts that can nourish God-sized dreams. And so I write, ‘Deliver Us From Dream Killers.’ These are the inner struggles that get in the way of big dreams. Read this, and make 2017 a heart healthy, dream living year.
Five Dream Killers on the Loose
Fear is a killer that lives in many hearts. I have heard people say that some level of fear is good; that it can be a means of self preservation. To that I say, if self preservation should be a dreamer’s preoccupation, then embrace fear as you please. Fear is very skilled at painting a picture of the worst possible outcome, and thereby chokes your decision making. While you stutter, time passes, opportunities come and go, and you’re left standing still. Nothing changes. But here is a scripture that promises a good end to those who believe: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). When you sense that it’s time for a shift, dare to step out despite what fear says. You can rest in God’s plans for a future and a perfect ending.
“You tried it once before, and it didn’t work out.” Disappointment visits our hearts with these words at some point in our lives. If we listen to its voice, it succeeds in keeping us from trying something new; or better yet, trying something again. Imagine a picture of an abandoned construction site. The builders started laying bricks but abandoned the project all together; and over the years, decay has settled in. Disappointment has caused many to settle for abandoned construction sites in different areas of their lives – careers, relationships, health, etc. I too have experienced disappointments, in all of those areas, in fact. But a prayer I often say is that God would restore everything that worms have stolen in my life. And in all cases, He’s heard those prayers.
The Need For Approval
I have found this one to be so parasitic, because it hangs our dreams on the cross of others’ perceptions. Depending on what your cultural background may be, the need for approval can be so deeply rooted that you don’t even notice it. In certain cultures and environments, subservience is seen as the way to get ahead. You will hear words like ‘submit’ and ‘obey’ used frequently by leaders to keep followers in check. Therefore, decision making hinges on another person’s consent. But here are some words God revealed in my heart a few years ago: “If God says ‘Yes,’ who else’s ‘Yes’ do you need? And if God says ‘Go,’ who else’s ‘Go’ do you need?” For me, these words created a revival in my heart. An encouragement I will add to this is that you make sure it is truly is God saying ‘Yes’ and ‘Go.’
Low Self Esteem
When low self esteem is in full effect, it’s obvious – and it’s quite unattractive. But this slimy killer can also creep in ever so subtly. Think about the moment you wanted to make a comment in a meeting, but dared not to. Or when you wanted to introduce yourself to someone “important” but shied away. In those subtle moments, this dream killer infected your thoughts, and led you to conclude that you were unworthy. Sounds dramatic, but it happens. When I have these moments, I ask God for a second chance. But even greater than this, I continue to ask God to open my eyes to who I am as the daughter of a King. Royalty never bows to low self esteem.
I bet you’re not surprised to see this killer listed. But can procrastination go so far as to kill a dream? Absolutely. Here’s the plain truth: time is nobody’s friend. You can’t pack it up and put it in your pocket (or handbag) for use at a later time. It keeps trudging on, bringing windows of opportunity to get things done…and taking them away if we fail to pay attention. Listen to these words: Pay attention to how you live, not as unwise but as wise. Make the most of your time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
There are many more dream killers, but I believe these five strike a chord with many people. If you see any of them at work in you heart, be encouraged. I invite you to see Jesus – the one who frees our hearts and makes us whole in every way.