Godly Dreams


If our greatest need is to have a meaningful purpose, then we should take seriously our inner sense of calling. Cherished daydreams can provide clues to our life’s mission.

But, is it Biblical to pursue our own personal dreams and goals?  Some would say “no.”  Take, for example, this opinion expressed in an online forum:

“I doubt there would be anything in the Bible to support following your dreams or never giving up. The Bible teaches you to NOT be self-absorbed and also, to follow the Bible it is necessary to give up a lot of what is YOU.”   (See this Comment) 

True, the Bible teaches us to be “God-absorbed”, rather than self-absorbed. But, it turns out that the more deeply we fall in love with God, the more uniquely we become ourselves. As C.S. Lewis said in the Screwtape Letters:

“When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts…that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.” 

God wants us to submit to His authority. This is not a matter of blind, docile, empty obedience. He wants us to devote our hearts and minds, our “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to eager followership of His wise guidance.

 -For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)

God sees the Big Picture for our individual lives and all the other lives that we touch. He wants to protect, nurture and perfect us. He has our true best interests at heart. That’s why Jesus so often used the analogy of a good shepherd tending his sheep.

When Jesus said “he who would come after me must deny himself,” he didn’t mean we should pretend we don’t care about the things that matter most to our hearts. He meant we should trust God enough to follow Him through danger, hardship and suffering, just as sheep will follow their shepherd through places they would never choose to go on  their own.

When Jesus chose and called his first disciples, he didn’t ask them to abandon their dreams, but rather to take the dreams to a higher level. The disciples had been fishermen; Jesus made them “fishers of men.” They dreamed of a military victory over the Romans; Jesus turned their hearts towards a greater kingdom “not of this world.” When he led the disciples into a life of homeless wandering, Jesus didn’t criticize them for missing their homes and families. He promised that they would enjoy “one hundred times more” houses and land and family, during their time on earth as well as receiving eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10:29-30)

We can draw a lesson from this for our own lives. The right way to deal with our dreams and longings is to place them trustingly in our Father’s hands. We should tell him everything! Whether our daydreams are selfish and silly or grandly altruistic, God wants to hear about them. He cares about our desires and He is pleased when we confide in Him.  Next, we should ask Him to show the nuggets of godly purpose hidden within our secret longings. For instance, I have a persistent dream of owning a big, old-fashioned house with a fireplace and a screened porch. I have never managed to connect this desire to a real-life mission that would serve and honor God. However, a closer look reveals deeper motives. The source of this daydream is that my mother loved that sort of house. By keeping her dream alive, I maintain a feeling of connection to her. God hasn’t given me a big house, but he has provided better ways for me to honor my mother’s memory. Quite unexpectedly, he steered me into a job working with children, and I’ve taken deep satisfaction in applying the childcare principals that I learned, quite literally, at my mother’s knee.

Jesus has assured us that God wants us to keep on bringing our petitions before Him. (See Luke 18:1-8) Therefore, I’m trying to make a habit of turning to Him in prayer whenever I feel an unfulfilled dream tugging at my heart. “Please, Lord, if some part of this dream is a nudging from your Spirit, then give me wisdom and perseverance to bring it to fruition.”

Psalm 37:4 (RSV) “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”