When we hear someone respond to a question about how life is going by saying, “I’m livin’ the dream,” the tone is usually sarcasm. The meaning is exactly the opposite of the statement. That person is plowing through day after day in a life that is hard or disappointing. I’d like to shift the meaning today, by taking away irony to point to the power of your dreams to a thing better referred to as a ‘vision.’
I recently talked with a younger man who has drifted with the current for years. He has been through multiple jobs, has struggled with relationships, and is frustrated with the state of his life. He had no vision, no compelling idea about his future that allowed him to make tough, self-denying choices today in pursuit of a better tomorrow.
“What’s your vision?” Answering that can be much harder than you think. Gaining a vision, seeing beyond the present, letting God plant a vision that we water with prayer, devotion, training, and work – creates a life of beauty and wholeness. I value steadiness, desire to be a man who sticks with things even when the going gets tough, and I am not suggesting that anyone allow themselves to get lost in fantastic dreams far distant from reality.
HOWEVER, I am also dreamer. My life is shaped by a set of values, a desire to please God and love others, that is more powerful than my own desires. (Honestly, I fail in that department sometimes. I am glad for His grace and mercy.)
In my teenage years, God set a vision in me. I am compelled to share hope with those who want a changed life. I pray for things that do not exist yet, for people who are broken to find wholeness, for those who are ‘dead’ to God to come to life. This is what I dream. Like anyone with a dream I must deal with human sin, the Devil’s opposition, and systems that are godless. These all conspire to keep my God-given dreams from taking shape.
God-given dreams (vision) demands God’s resources. When I get wrapped up in my own agenda, when I get focused on ‘making things happen’ instead of working with the Lord, fatigue and frustration result. When I remain faithful to Him, He leads, empowers, and makes dreams become reality. And I am, indeed, ‘livin’ the dream!’ (no irony or sarcasm intended)
Do you dream? Do you know that God has real purpose for you, dreams that He wants to pour into your life? In Ephesians 1, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exults: “God thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, … It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” (The Message)
Hebrews says that through Christ, it is God’s plan to “bring many sons to glory!” His plans for us include making us whole, mature, people who live with meaning and purpose. No, He is not concerned with making us rich or famous. If that is the heart of your dream, you’re not hearing from the Spirit. Many Christians confuse ‘soulish’ desires, dreams that are born of their reaction to life or their own longings, with Spirit-inspired vision!
In your times of prayer and meditation, invite the Lord to inspire (the word literally means ‘breathe into’) you with vision! Pray that He will allow you to dream. People of the Spirit need two sets of eyes: one they are born with that sees the world as it is and another that are God-given that lets them see the world as God wants it to be. That, Believer, is vision! The prophet Joel spoke of the Lord’s work in our lives with these wonderful words of promise. “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters. Your old men will dream, your young men will see visions. I’ll even pour out my Spirit on the servants, men and women both.” (Joel 2:28-29, The Message)
In his book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley offers this insight about the development of vision:
1. Define the Problem.
2. Outline a Solution
3. Determine the Reason something must be done.
4. Decide to do something now!
In 2020, America is being torn apart. Competing visions are bidding for our souls.
Will we ‘see’ at God sees, made insightful by His wisdom, led by His Spirit to life eternal and filled with peace?
OR, will we adopt the one of the philosophies of the age and be deluded by a dream that leads only to destruction?
Our Father in Heaven asks us to look higher, too. If we can catch glimpses of the glory He’s planned for us, we will more readily say “yes, Lord” to the rigorous discipline that brings us to share in His purposes. Living to our full potential, becoming a child of glory, is not inevitable but, we can ‘live the dream’ if we will walk in faith, turn from evil, and open up to the Spirit of the Lord.
The word from the Word is full of promise. Oh may the Spirit let us hear His voice and led us to higher things, for God’s sake. Read this prayerfully. BELIEVE! RECEIVE! And, gain new vision. “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:19-21, NLT)
(worship lifts our sights from earth to Heaven where vision is born)
We’ve come to join the song
Sung long before our lives
To raise our voice along
Heaven and earth alike
We’ve seen Your faithful hand
our mercy without end
The King who bled and died
A God who sacrificed
Be enthroned upon the praises
Of a thousand generations
You are worthy Lord of all
And unto You the slain and risen King
We lift our voice with heaven
Singing worthy Lord of all
(Lord of all)
All through this life we lead
And on to eternity
Our endless praise we cry
Jesus be glorified
(Jesus be glorified)
Highest praises Lord of all
Brian Johnson | Hunter Thompson | Jeremy Riddle | Kalley Heiligenthal © 2015 Bethel Music Publishing
CCLI License # 810055