Do You Have Deferred Dreams?

Hope Deferred

by Heather Bock

“Aaahh! I don’t want to hear all this!”

I wrote these words in my notes for a talk at the Declare Conference entitled “When God Changes Your Direction” by Jamie Bates. Her talk seemed to have been written directly for me, and I was both deeply encouraged and deeply challenged by it. I didn’t exactly enjoy the challenging parts too much.

Her talk was about dreams delayed or even dying. It was about calls heard correctly but timing understood wrong. She talked of preparation before fulfillment. It was even about misunderstanding God’s end plan.


You see, I have some deeply held dreams. In addition, I have some serious God-given determination. Once convinced they are from God or at least after much prayer that He hasn’t said they aren’t from Him, I chase those dreams down hard. With God’s help, I’ve satisfied some major desires in my life.

However, I have one major one I hold very dear that stays out of reach. Since I can remember, I have wanted to adopt. I’m not going to take the time to tell the story of all the false starts and hopes risen and dashed, but I will say that unless I’ve heard Him wrong, it seems that God Himself has been the operator of the roller coaster–both the highs and the lows. I also have reason to believe I shouldn’t let go of this dream altogether.

Another dream I have that has been very hard to reach is to publish a Bible study I wrote: Glimpses of Jesus in Genesis. I feel He gave me the study, and I know He’s used it in my own life already. If I can judge by the feedback of my participants, He’s also used it in many of their lives, too. Maybe that’s all He wants to do with it, but as long as I don’t have a red light, I’m going to keep working towards getting the message He gave me out there to more women.

Solomon wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12). How I can relate to this verse! Can you relate, too? Do you have any dreams you desperately want fulfilled?

Jamie Bates had one good reason that stuck out to me for why God might defer (or deny) our dreams: the call might be real, but we might not be ready for the call yet.

Maybe God needs to work on our patience, pride, self-righteousness, or some other issue before we can even handle the fulfillment of the dream we hold onto so tightly. As Jamie said, “He’s more concerned about what happens in us than what He does through us.”

She gave two illustrations that I can’t fully get out of my mind. The first is Google Maps. When I attended the conference, I had the blessing of spending the nights with my former college roommate–a very good friend of mine. She and her family live less than ten minutes from where the conference was held, but without Google directing me, I would never have even heard Jamie speak. Even though I’m thankful for this app, I must say I was frustrated when it directed me in a seemingly out of the way direction in order for me to reach my destination. I could see some other more direct routes and didn’t know why it didn’t take me one of those ways. I realized later that the roads it avoided were clogged with traffic. It also stayed off toll roads (at my earlier request). In other words, it was avoiding trouble and cost. Jamie pointed out that sometimes more miles on our journey toward our dream will actually enable us to arrive faster.

To add to that, sometimes God’s GPS will take us directly into the trouble and cost on purpose. Why? We learn in Scripture “that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-5).

Maybe we’re not ready to reach the destination yet–maybe we need proven character first in order to handle what we will be tested with at the ending point. Dreams are therefore deferred.

The second illustration was the story of Philip in the book of Acts. He and others were preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages when an angel of the Lord said to him, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26). Now, if I were told to go to a road that leads to Gaza, I would assume my destination would be Gaza. I would start trying to figure out what my task would be there. I wouldn’t think much about the journey itself.

God had other plans. On the way, Philip came across another traveler heading out of Jerusalem, an Ethiopian eunuch who needed someone to explain the book of Isaiah to him. Philip had to run to catch up, but he gladly told about Jesus through that ancient prophet. After the eunuch was saved and baptized, did Philip continue on to some mission in Gaza? No, and I’ve always been intrigued by this, but he was “snatched away” by the Holy Spirit and dropped off at Azotus, a city a good distance away. Without missing a beat, he started preaching the gospel again.

Applied to me, my road toward publishing, which includes investing in this blog and social media and going to conferences, might be my destination. It has certainly become a ministry for me. I would like to reach the destination of publishing, too, but God has made it clear I need to be ok with whatever destination He has for me.

Are you ok with whatever God has for you, no matter what it might be? I hope you’ll trust, as I am learning to do, to hold your dreams up to God, for God knows the best timing and fulfillment of our dreams.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

0 thoughts on “Do You Have Deferred Dreams?

  1. I’m struggling to believe that God is there and even cares about me much less my dreams. Intense pain for myself and my daughters and just trying to get through every day. Don’t know even how to pray where I can be remotely certain God will hear or answer. I know what the Bible says about God but it feels like it’s too late for anymore dreams. The ones that I thought He had for me are shattered and I can’t fix it for myself or my daughters.

    1. camiller, I’m so sad to hear about the terrible pain you’re going through. If I feel sad for you, and if friends of yours feel even more sad for you, wouldn’t the God who made us to have emotions feel it even stronger for you? Think about how Jesus cried for Lazarus’ family even when He knew He was about to raise him from the dead. I don’t know how He feels about your dreams, but I can say with certainty that He loves YOU deeply. He hears you—don’t stop calling out to Him! And don’t be afraid to tell Him all you feel—the pain and the anger. Please email me if you want to talk more: heather.bock[at] I will be praying for you! Again, I’m so sorry for your pain.

    2. I just read this quote by N.T. Wright and thought of you, camiller: “Run off to meet Jesus. Tell him the problem. Ask him why he didn’t come sooner, why he allowed that awful thing to happen. And then be prepared for a surprising response. I can’t predict what the response will be, for the very good reason that it is always, always a surprise. But I do know the shape that it will take. Jesus will meet your problem with some new part of God’s future that can and will burst into your present time, into the mess and grief, with good news, with hope, with new possibilities.”

  2. This is a beautifully written post, Heather. Full of such truth. We have a similar adoption calling/heart break and now we are just waiting. I actually think when our plans are crushed and we’re left waiting on God, that’s exactly where we need to be. Jospeh had a dream his brothers would bow down before him and then he spent 14 years as a slave or a prisoner before coming to a position of power. Abraham waited about 25 years before having Issac. I think the waiting is holy ground that God doesn’t ever want us to rush through. I’m currently in a waiting season and while it feels like a bit of “time out” — I have to believe this is where he wants me. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thinking of it as holy ground is a help—thank you for that. The examples of Joseph and Abraham are very helpful, too. The girl who spoke at Declare also talked about how her dreams came to fruition much later. You’re right—it’s where He wants me right now, and I can choose to be thankful for it!

  3. This is SO good–and SO hard! I feel the tension in similar areas of my life, but it always comes back to surrender–and trusting he knows the roads better than we do. Thank you for this, for the reminder, and for sharing you’re own journey.

  4. Heather, Since my retirement, I’ve really struggled with unfulfilled dreams. I had such big plans–but I guess they were “my” plans rather than God’s. Thanks for such a beautiful post at a time when I really needed to take it to heart. Wishing you blessings in your ministry .

    1. Katherine, I’m glad God used my post at just the right time for you. I’m glad for your sake, and I’m encouraged, as I always hope God will use the posts He gives me. Thank you for commenting. I’m so sorry to hear about this struggle of yours. Keep seeking God’s plans over yours—I know very well how hard that can be.

  5. Oh, Heather. This is so exactly my story! Fourteen years ago, God revealed to me that I would speak and write, but the timing wasn’t right. I learned (among other things) that I had too much pride. When I finally started my blog five years ago, it was with trepidation and much questioning. Still, I question every step: Is the time right, Lord? Is it my turn? So far, He hasn’t told me ‘no’ about pursuing publishing for my Bible study, but it’s not published yet, so we’re in the same position.

    Also, the story of Philip is my favorite in the New Testament. Here’s the link for my ‘take’ on going/not going to Gaza:

    Sounds like this speaker at Declare was really awesome!

  6. Really liked your post, My life verse has always been Proverbs 3:5-6, later in life when I left the military the verse John 3:8 kind of gave my life direction by learning to have none and let God do with me and guide me as he pleases.

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