Bill Hybels tells this inspiring story in his book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking. It started like so many evenings. Mom and Dad at home and Jimmy playing after dinner. Mom and Dad were absorbed with jobs and did not notice the time. It was a full moon and some of the light seeped through the windows. Then Mom glanced at the clock. “Jimmy, it’s time to go to bed. Go up now and I’ll come and settle you later.” Unlike usual, Jimmy went straight upstairs to his room. An hour or so later his mother came up to check if all was well, and to her astonishment found that her son was staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. “What are you doing, Jimmy?” “I’m looking at the moon, Mommy.” “Well, it’s time to go to bed now.” As one reluctant boy settled down, he said, “Mommy, you know one day I’m going to walk on the moon.” Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body, and would bring to fruition this dream 32 years later when James Irwin stepped on the moon’s surface, just one of the 12 representatives of the human race to have done so?
During our childhood, it seems much of our life is spent dreaming. Little boys dream of becoming firemen, astronauts, or professional athletes. Little girls dream of becoming beauty queens, movie stars, or princesses. Every child holds such big dreams in their tiny little hands, but few are able to see them turn to reality when they become an adult. In Genesis 37:5, the amazing journey of Joseph’s life began with these words, “And Joseph dreamed a dream…” While still a teenager, it appears Joseph thought this dream would be easily carried out. Never in his wildest imagination could he have ever anticipated all that would be required for God to bring it all to pass. One of the surest signs that a man is growing old is when he stops dreaming. Once the hope of dreaming is lost, a man will grow cynical about life, but it is the courageous dreamer that leaves the world a better place than he found it. British Army officer T.E. Lawrence said, “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes to make them possible.” How do you muster the courage, wisdom, and faith to see a dream become reality?
To capture dreams will require having the right passion. Joseph’s dream was not something he had conjured up out of his own imagination. It was the God-given design for his life that was initiated in the heart and mind of God. Even the prophet Jeremiah would learn from God, “…before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee…” It was God’s way of saying, “Before you were born, I was already dreaming for your life.” One of the great secrets of life is to discover the purpose for why you were born. Nehemiah did not come into the world thinking of building walls, but in time he would say, God “put in my heart [what] to do at Jerusalem.” When God shares His dream for our life, it will always inspire faith rather than fear. It is difficult for a man to see with God’s eyes and remain neutral and silent in his life.
To capture dreams will require having the right priorities. The journey to follow Joseph’s dream would demand careful and courageous choices along his path. Joseph would face the temptation of Potipher’s wife, “but he refused, and said,… how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” He was wise enough to know that one distracted decision could derail his dream. American author Henry David Thoreau said, “Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” It was the prophet Daniel that “…purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Without such a firm and fixed resolve, a man will settle for lesser dreams and carry a lifetime of regret. The pursuit of a dream is never more frustrated than when the choice of the path is a slippery slope.
To capture dreams will require having the right patience. When Joseph was sold as a slave in a foreign land and then imprisoned, his dream had to seem a million miles away, but God would lead him through the impossible and the improbable before reaching the inevitable. Moses was born to be a deliverer, but would have to spend forty years waiting with sheep in the desert. David was anointed to be a king, but would have to run for his life twenty years in the wilderness before rising to the throne. God will often bring death to a dream in order to resurrect the dream in His timing for His glory. How easy it is to forget in the pursuit of a dream that the dream is not ours, but is merely lent to us. Any dream that is God-initiated will never lack of God’s hope for fulfillment.
To capture dreams will require having the right people. While in prison, Joseph would meet Pharoah’s butler and his baker. The strategic placement of these men in Joseph’s life would be instrumental in his dream becoming a reality. The company you keep will often shape the direction of where you go in life. A true friend is someone happy to be a stepping stone, but willing to be a stumbling block to protect us. In order to fulfill His purposes, God will use those who hold influence within our lives. Dreams will often need the services of a butler who knows how to open doors. Dreams will often need the skill of a baker to accurately discern the right ingredients. Dreams will often await the backing of a Pharoah who has the ability to finance the dream. Realized dreams are rarely ever celebrated alone.
To capture dreams will require having the right perspective. Once his dream was fulfilled, Joseph would say to his brothers, “..ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day…” It was a humble way of saying, “God is the only one who could have accomplished such a wonderful thing in my life.” God is able to do in an instant that which a man can never do in a lifetime of striving. I like what Vance Havner used to say, “You never have to chase key men when you know the One who holds the keys.” If God initiates a dream, it should stand to reason He is the only one that can carry it through.
Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” It can only be considered cowardice to not follow a God-given dream. The best thing about dreaming is the fact it may just come true. What is the worst thing that could happen? You may reach for the stars only to catch a handful of moon dust!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2013 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.