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.