Scary Big Dreams

Remember when you were little, how your dreams of what you would become when you grew up were so big? Astronauts, ballerinas, presidents: kids are encouraged to dream big about their futures, to pursue their goals with gusto.

But somewhere between “I want to be a movie star!” and a 401k, we lose something of the magic. We tame our desires, muzzle our dreams, and stuff what could be down into a more austere (adult) reality. Honestly, though, life is too short to settle for less than what God meant for you to experience. Sure, being a lab tech—or even a CEO—pays the bills, but what makes you come alive? What job wouldn’t feel like a job to you?

Maybe your career isn’t the issue; what dream has been waiting in the back room of your soul for way too many years? Have you been longing to write a book? To start a school? To go on an overseas mission trip?

There is a startling snippet of Scripture that challenges our habit of repressed imagination. I’d like to offer Ephesians 3:20 in three translations (with emphasis added) to help it sink in past our sensibility:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, (ESV)

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, (AMP)

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (MSG)

Here’s my question: if the Lord can do so much more than we can even dream, why don’t we dream big? What could happen if the Church took some time to imagine outside of the box? Look at the awful state the world is in. Has God been waiting for a generation to take Him up on this offer, to stretch the bounds of what the past witnessed? Oh, friends, this is a call to courage, to ferocious imagination, to see just how much He can do. The God who dreams insane plans for the world (plans which no big business board would ever back in their right minds) planted you right here, right now, with all of your potential, to make a difference.

Enter fear. “What if I fail? What would people think? Can’t I just be comfortable? I’m content right now.” Here’s the bottom line: the cross requires risk. There are no safe believers—the call to Christ’s life is a call to our death. If you responded to a gospel that didn’t include laying down your life, taking up your cross (or electric chair or lethal injection), and following Jesus, you responded to a gospel that can’t save. This faith is scary. It demands more than what you can muster; it demands the Spirit of God dwelling in you to carry out the dreams He has for you.

If you were promised abundant success in any one thing, what would you ask God for the opportunity to do? Listen, I’m not saying go out and quit your job today and take up puppeteering (unless you’re undoubtedly hearing the Lord tell you to do so; in that case, power to you). Use wisdom as you move forward. I’m just offering a challenge: if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. We serve a big God with a crazy imagination. If He has birthed a desire in you to change the world through a book or a school or a mission trip (or a million other things), please don’t smother it anymore. Will you dream big once again? Be brave, sweet friend. The kingdom of God has been waiting for you.

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