Dreams (the life-goal kind, not the Inception kind) are sacred in America. They are the scriptures of Disney and the mantras of kids and adults everywhere. We ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and exhort them to “Dream big! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
Even for Christians, many see dreams as paramount to living a life for God. High-school and college ministries encourage their students to create “bucket lists” (a list of things to do before you kick the bucket) and taught to go on journeys to “find themselves.”
(Let’s transition before I pass my quotation-mark quota)
This dream stuff, it’s all nice talk and makes you feel good and motivated to take on the world armed with nothing but a spork, but what does the Bible have to say about such things?
The God of Our Dreams
Outside of the prophetic and/or apocalyptic kind, the Bible does not have really anything to say about the American kind of a dream—the kind where you have a desire and you dedicate all your mental and material resources to attain said desire.
But this is what the Bible does say about our lives:
- We are to die to ourselves (Matthew 16:24-25; Galatians 2:20). When you become a Christian, life is no longer about you but Jesus. Your desires, your goals, your views no longer matter—only Christ’s.
- We are to glorify God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:30; Philippians 1:20). Whether you are eating, drinking, sleeping, studying, running, talking, playing, preaching, or working, it should all be done in a way that shows how great Christ is—not you.
- Our identity is now found in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14; Philippians 1:21). Your identity is not found in your family, what you do, your social status, your career, or anything else but Christ.
- God wants us to be content with just having Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-16). If we need anything other than Christ to fulfill us, it is an idol.
- Life will not be comfortable as a Christian (John 16:33; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12). Because Satan, the world, and sin are all against us, we must not be surprised when a fallen world acts like a fallen world. Hence, the need to be content with Christ and not temporary comforts.
- God has His own plan for our lives (Proverbs 16:9; Jeremiah 29:10-12; James 4:13-15). We may have an idea of what we want to accomplish in our lives, but God is working out His own thing in and through us.
- God’s plans are working out our highest good, our holiness (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). We have a limited idea of what good is. God understands what is better.
God’s Dream for You
So what is the conclusion from all of this?
In the grand scope of things, God doesn’t really care about your dreams at all. He cares much more about you.
If this is God’s main concern for us, then it should be our’s also, but too many times we are focused on other things. Our idea of good is too small—children believing that temporary pleasure surpasses eternal ones. We have no idea what we are talking about.
More important than getting that degree, that job, that relationship, that position, or that experience is that we would learn to treasure Christ above everything.
If that is not your main concern, then when your dream is taken away, you will become angry with God because He took away your idol. God does not enjoy rivals.
Also, if your dream is the end all but you die tomorrow, having never accomplished your dream, does that make your life an unfulfilled one? A failed one? Only if the purpose of your life was to accomplish your dream.
I’m sure the disciples had other plans before Jesus came crashing into their lives. Paul was an up-and-coming star of the Jewish religious world. Peter was a fisherman. Matthew had a lucrative career. I don’t think they had imprisonment, torture, and execution on their bucket list. But if they had gone on to do their own thing, the Gospel may not have spread throughout the world and we might not be believers today.
Desires and plans are not a bad thing in themselves—if they are not sinful, course. But understand that God has a habit of shattering human plans. Don’t let yours get in the way of what He is doing.