As the song lyrics reverberate, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need." This could very well be the anthem of my life. I was brought up with the bare minimum, familiar with the reality of Christmas gifts from the Angel tree, of meals which often consisted of noodles, and of hand-me-down outfits from my sisters. I can still taste the syrup sandwiches and the no-name peanut butter that filled our pantry, sometimes still containing remnants of peanuts.
Growing up with less makes it easy to appreciate the little things life offers. But there's a danger that lurks in the shadows of this gratitude. The peril is that our lack of desire and exposure to a wider world can inhibit us from walking by Faith. It's easy to mistake what is, in fact, complacency for contentment. If we always measure our progress against past hardships rather than the full promise that God has for us, we can miss the abundance He intends for our lives. In such situations, we often need to be provoked to dream, to imagine a life beyond our limited expectations.
A perfect example of being provoked to dream is the biblical story of Hannah. In the book of 1 Samuel 1:1-20, Hannah, barren and in deep distress, yearns for a son. Her husband, Elkanah, loves her deeply and believes she should be content with his love. But Hannah is provoked to dream for more. She prays fervently for a child, promising to devote the child to God if her prayer is answered. Eventually, God grants her a son, Samuel, whose birth answers her heartfelt prayers and also serves a larger purpose in God's divine plan. Samuel grew up to be one of the most influential prophets in Israel's history, anointing the first two kings of Israel and providing guidance during a pivotal time in the nation's history. Hannah's dream for a son was not only about fulfilling her personal desire, but it was intrinsically tied to a larger plan that God had for His people.
God stirs desires within us not just for our benefit, but for the advancement of His Kingdom. Look at Joseph, whose dreams led him to become a powerful leader in Egypt, saving his family and the entire region from a severe famine (Genesis 37-45). Or consider Esther, whose desire to save her people made her a queen and a savior for the Jews in Persia (Book of Esther).
Being provoked to dream can take many forms. God's communication might come through an angel, a person, a burning bush, or even an adversary as it happened with Hannah. These dreams, these deep desires, are not random or unimportant. They are divine nudges, pushing us toward a larger purpose.
As we embrace this New Year, I challenge you to lean into what God is stirring up within you. That dream in your heart is there for a reason. It's not something you can ignore, no matter how hard you attempt to suppress it. So, with the knowledge that God is nudging you to desire more, it's up to you to seek His divine strategy for how to bring it to fruition. In doing so, you may just discover that the dreams you were provoked to dream were not merely dreams, but a divine roadmap to your destiny.
Here are three things I challenge you to do to help follow your call to dream:
Challenge 1: Dream Journaling
Start a Dream Journal. Each night before you go to bed, take a few minutes to write about the desires and dreams within you. Don't censor or judge them, just let them flow onto the page. This practice will not only help you identify your dreams but can also provide clues about God's divine strategy for you.
Challenge 2: **Prayer and Meditation
Set aside a specific time each day for prayer and meditation focused on your dreams. Ask God for guidance, clarity, and the courage to pursue your dreams. As you meditate, visualize your dreams coming to fruition and believe in their possibility.
Challenge 3: Take One Small Step
Identify one small step you can take towards your dream. It could be as simple as researching a topic, joining a group of like-minded individuals, or even just sharing your dream with a trusted friend.
Remember, every journey starts with a single step. Here’s to more in 2024!