This is the story of a guy named Abram (later called Abraham). Now, Abram was just an old nobody, desert dude, minding his own business when God showed up and told him that his children would be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore! It’s found in Genesis 12:1-9. I’ll wait a moment and let you read it to familiarize yourself with the story. Familiarize yourself with the years and decades of hope and trial in this dream sequence.
What a promise! God told Abram exactly what His dream for him would be, didn’t He? That was easy for Abram to know, since he got it straight from God. But, what about you and me? What is our God-given dream? Well, we have to be able to define it before we can know what it is. Simply put, a God-given dream typically flows out of things you enjoy, things that you’re good at, or things you have an interest in. A God-given dream can be something that you’ve always known you would do when you grew up, or a God-given dream can be something you find out about later in life. Either way, God gives us these dreams for three purposes:
- To ultimately bring honor and glory to God
- To make disciples for Him and spread the good news of His grace, mercy, and salvation (aka “the gospel”)
- To bring true and lasting fulfillment, joy, peace, purpose, and power to our lives
1. Recognize God’s Role in the God-Given Dream
Do you know what your God-given dream is? If you know what it is, the best way to achieve that dream is to get to know God . If you don’t know what your God-given dream is, that’s OK too. How do you find out? Just keep on getting to know God better and better (Jeremiah 29:11); when the time is right, He’ll let you know. God told Abram that He would bless him and his descendants. Wouldn’t you like God to tell you that He’ll bless you and that you’ll be a blessing to others? But hold on a minute. This promise was not so easy for Abram to believe.
We haven’t gotten to the end of our story, but already there are a couple of important things we can learn from Abraham and Sarah’s story. God has given you a specific dream to serve Him, increase His kingdom, and bring honor and glory to His name, and that’s all-important. Yet, God will likely not tell you all the details and plans up front; He’s looking for you to give Him your total trust and obedience. I hope that you’re really letting this story soak in and that you apply it to your life. Everything in the Bible is written for a purpose, and that is to help you live a better life for God.
2. Look for God’s Reminders
In the midst of Abram’s journey to find the Promised Land, the Lord reminded Abram several more times of His incredible promise. But don’t you know that Abram was human? And don’t you know that he was not getting any younger? And don’t you know that he must have been thinking a lot about God’s promise?
Finally in chapter 15 of Genesis, we see Abram verbalizing what must have been on his and his wife’s mind the entire time: “Abram answered, ‘Lord All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own. You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything’” (verses 2 and 3, CEV).
Even with God’s reminders, Abram basically told God “I can’t see how this will all work out. You’re taking too long, so, I’ll take care of it myself!”
There it is! Isn’t it nice to know that Abram was human just like you and me, and questioned and doubted, too? God replied to Abram that he indeed would have a child and that his descendants would be like the stars in the heavens. Abram’s response to God’s explanation was one of faith: “Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with Him” (verse 6).
3. Dream Drought
Fast-forward several more years. By this time Abram was trying to make God’s promise come true all by himself, in his own power, and through his own timetable. And it should come as no surprise that in doing so, Abraham set in motion some seriously dysfunctional patterns.
Here’s an interesting question that I can’t resist asking you: Have you ever tried to fulfill God’s dream for you in your own timetable and through your own power? What were the results? Not good? I know. I’ve also experienced those same results—for decades of my life. And what I’ve learned is that every morning I must choose to believe by faith in God’s goodness, God’s character, and God’s plan, and let God control my moment-by-moment choices.
In the midst of all of this craziness, Abram’s wife, Sarai, still hadn’t had any children. Abram was again reassured by God of His promise to Abram, and in chapter 18 of Genesis we see God more specifically promise Abram and finally give him a specific time when his son would be born.
4. Dream Killer?
Fast-forward many years. In Genesis 22 Abram’s name has been changed to Abraham, and his long-promised miracle son has been born (and probably grown up into a preteen or teen). Both Abraham and his wife (who, by the way, had her name changed as well from Sarai to Sarah) have passed and failed many faith tests throughout their lives thus far. God, however, had one final test for Abraham to see if he really loved and trusted God. The story is found in Genesis 22:1-18. We won’t look at all the verses, but I encourage you to read it on your own. God decided to test Abraham’s trust, loyalty, faith, and obedience to Him and to His promises by asking Abraham to sacrifice—aka kill—his only, promised son! Abraham followed through with total faith in God, and literally, at the last second, he was stopped, Abraham’s son was spared, and instead, God provided an animal sacrifice.
Now, there are a few really important points to be learned from what we’ve been studying:
- God can work to bring about good things even in the midst of your stupid mistakes and bad consequences, because He’s God. He has a way of making bad things turn out right.
- God is ultimately concerned about your holiness, and He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get and keep your attention, trust, and obedience to accomplish that goal.
- God is responding to your stubbornness when He has to get your attention by testing your obedience and allegiance to Him and to His plans by putting you in the most uncomfortable situation where—even for a short time—it seems as if He’s asking you to give up your dream. What He’s asking you to do, in actuality, is not to give up your dream, but to have total trust in Him and to give up control of making your dream come true. Genesis 22:1-12 makes a great point, and it is this: God wants you to take the thing, that dream that you love dearly, more than life itself, and totally trust Him with it.
- God can be trusted with your dreams, your hopes, your aspirations for your life, your relationships, your job, your finances, your health, your grades, your sports, your family, whatever it is you’re worried about, that is most important to you, or that you have big plans for—God is trustworthy.
5. Sweet Dreams in Good Hands
Abraham’s and Sarah’s dream sequence, their journeys of faith, encourage us to live the incredible dream of promise. God promised Abraham’s children would be more than the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach. You, however, realize that God has a very special dream that He wants to give to you. He is ready and willing to make it happen in your lifetime, for your joy, and His glory. The mistakes Abraham and Sarah made in trying to force God’s hand and make their dreams come true in their own timetable didn’t work for them–in the least–and it’ll never work for me or you either. Further, God may choose to challenge your faith, to either find out where your priorities are and where your heart truly is, or correct your path and put you on His path again. Many times chasing our God-given dream can totally eclipse our love for the Dream-giver. Finally, God ultimately wants and deserves your total allegiance and obedience in whatever you do in your life, because He is worthy and trustworthy, especially with your dreams.