Thanks so much to everyone for your comments and thoughts on dreams this week. It seems there are two main thoughts which keep surfacing: 1) It can be difficult to determine which dreams come from God, and which ones are our own, and 2) It can be difficult to wait on God to see those dreams fulfilled.
On Wednesday, I shared a few thoughts on clarifying which dreams come from God, and today, I want to talk about the dreams that require some waiting and patience!
Reading Heather‘s book, Dream Big, has gotten me thinking a lot about the balance between actively pursuing our dreams, and staying still while prayerfully waiting for the time of completion.
Over the last few years, I’ve gone through a number of experiences which felt as though God was teaching me about the art of waiting – to stop planning, and stop pursuing, and just learning to abide in Him.
This does not come naturally for me. I am a planner, and I like to be in control of my schedule and my life. Learning to let go of “The Plan” was difficult for me, and is something I wrote about in a blog series called, “Chucking the Five Year Plan” (Part 1, 2, 3, 4)
It has been an interesting challenge for me to process Heather’s thoughts and suggestions for having a one year, and five year plan, and being intentional about pursuing dreams. As I read her book, and worked through her exercises for coming up with a plan, I realized how much I’ve allowed myself to swing to the “No Plan” side of things, as I’ve tried to leave room for God to take the lead. I admire Heather’s wisdom in allowing God to do things in His time, while actively and intentionally preparing yourself to be ready for the time when He starts to move in more noticeable ways.
When God plants His dreams in us, we often have to wait to see them fulfilled. However, this doesn’t mean we sit around watching TV, checking Facebook, and waiting for our big dreams to come knocking. There are little opportunities every day…that God uses to prepare us for our big dreams. If only we weren’t so easily distracted.
I know how tempting it can be to try to force our dreams to happen. I know how it feels to believe in something so much, to be so sure it is from God, and to be completely confused as to His timing and what He is doing to bring it about.
Sometimes, seeing ourselves in a time of preparation is a very difficult thing. Waiting for seemingly endless amounts of time can be very hard. I have not always faced my times of waiting, the seasons of “marinating” in my life, with as much grace and patience as I wish I had.
The most difficult season of waiting I have ever experienced was before Kaylia was born.
I had two amazing experiences when I felt as though God was clearly telling me we would someday have a baby girl. In the moment, those times were powerful, but by the next morning, doubts would always set in, and it was hard to believe God had really spoken to me.
There were times when the waiting was almost unbearable, and I didn’t know how to be faithful in the waiting. I was so blinded by my desire for a baby, I couldn’t see the opportunities for growth or preparation in that time.
We were asked a number of times during those years why we didn’t just adopt a baby. Part of me wanted to pursue adoption, but part of me was held back in a way I couldn’t understand or explain.
I remember one weekend in particular, when my thoughts and feelings reached a climax. I was tired of waiting for God, and I was tired of the longing and unhappiness in my life. Would it be so wrong for us to take the situation into our own hands, and just go adopt a baby? (That makes adoption sound easy, but I realize it’s not! It just seemed much more possible than pregnancy at that point.)
The weekend of this emotional climax happened to be Family Camp at Red Rock Bible Camp, and I attended a chapel session one evening. The speaker was talking about the Bible story of Abraham and Sarah, and as he was speaking, I got caught up in the story, reading farther along. I read about how God promised them a baby, and then nothing happened – for years, and years, and years….
Because they are Bible characters, it is easy to assume they handled this well, but they really didn’t. Sarah decided to take things into her own hands, and made Abraham sleep with her maid so they could finally get that promised baby.
But it wasn’t the promised baby.
It was the maid’s baby, and as that child grew up, he caused a lot of grief for everyone involved. It was unnecessary, avoidable grief, because it was wrong for the whole situation to ever have happened. If Abraham and Sarah would just have waited with faith and trust, Isaac would eventually have come along.
As I sat there in that chapel, it suddenly struck me how tempted I was to be a little like Sarah. I really wanted to adopt a baby, not because Ben and I felt called to adoption at that point, but because I wanted to be in control. I was tired of waiting on God, and since adoption is not a sinful thing to do, surely it would be okay to pursue.
Except that deep down in my heart, I knew God was saying “no”. We weren’t meant to adopt our “promised” baby. I still felt God had spoken to me years before, and His words had been, “Wait on me.” But in my times of doubt, it was hard to keep believing, and extremely tempting to start thinking like Sarah.
And so we waited. I have no idea what would have happened if we hadn’t, but I am so thankful and happy and blessed because of the life we have now.
So how do you know? How do you know when it’s time to take action, and when it’s time to just sit tight, because God is up to something whether we know what it is or not?
When do we “marinate” in all that confusion and waiting, longing for these dreams we have deep in our hearts?
I am still working on the answer to those questions, because I think it’s different in each situation, but I’m starting to realize that the answer might be in the “how”.
How am I taking action?
Are my actions pure? (Sleeping with the maid…not so much!)
Do I feel peaceful about my steps forward, or am I just getting a “no” from God?
Is there a deeper reason why I might be held back from taking action?
I felt frustration whenever I was held back from actively pursuing my dreams, but looking back, I can see growth and purpose during those times of “marinating”. Sometimes we need an extended period of time to just sit, soaking it all in, learning to live in the tension.
Reading Heather’s book has enabled me to better define what I choose to do during a season of “dream marination”. 🙂
Sometimes, the pain and struggle of living in the tension IS the preparation. I don’t think I could have handled a five year plan in that season of my life.
But I’ve moved into a different season, and I can see how the dreams I have now could benefit from an intentional plan of preparation.
Just as I couldn’t force God’s timing when it came to having a baby, I cannot force God in His timing for my new dreams.
I’m starting to see the peace that can be there for us in the season of marinating.
I believe that allowing God to control the timing of our dreams is just as important as allowing Him to determine what those dreams are in the first place.
Okay, everybody, last chance to comment, and have a chance to win Heather’s new book!
My question for today is this: How’s the marinating going? Are you able to “actively wait”, with intention, peace, and purpose, or do you struggle with impatience?