Dream Bigger, Better, Vertically
Tess’s dream seemed so biblical. She prayed for a wonderful marriage to a godly man, children who came to know Christ from an early age, and a life of ministry serving the Kingdom of God. “Wherever you send us and whatever you want us to do, Lord, we will obey,” she would pray.
It started like the fairy tale Tess had imagined, but it didn’t take long for the dream she had envisioned to disappoint. Benny was not the “dream” husband, and life threw curveballs much earlier than Tess expected.
The dream wasn’t dead yet, but her unrealistic fantasy was beginning to unravel. So, with renewed vigor, Tess doubled down on making her dream come to life. What had once been held with an open hand became an obsession.
Tess reasoned that family life would be better if she were a better homemaker. She spent far too much time and money decorating their house, but it became more of a museum than a home and an uncomfortable place to relax and raise children.
Tess thought that Benny would respond more affectionately if she were more attractive. To her dismay, the diets, exercise, and excessive money spent on makeup, clothing, and jewelry did not make Benny a more willing participant in the dream.
She desperately concluded that the family needed time away from the pressures of life, so she planned a ridiculously exotic and expensive vacation. Contrary to the edited selfies she posted on Instagram, the trip was a bit of a disaster, and the only lasting result was credit card debt that caused even more strain on the family.
Don’t be too hard on Tess. In one way or another, we are more like her than unlike her.
Of course, it is not wrong to dream of a great marriage, a wonderful family, and a successful career. But maybe our intentions started pure and turned selfish over time.
(Or could it be that we were deceived from the beginning, and they weren’t as innocent as we initially thought?)
Perhaps, when God, in his loving mercy, allows our dreams to die, we refuse to accept it and fight hard to keep it alive. In so doing, we sacrifice other things at the altar of our dream.
(God does not play games with us; his actions are always loving and wise. Our ability to experience the death of a dream could be a warning that something is wrong and needs to be corrected.)
But here’s where I think we are all guilty: we have dreamed too small. Dreaming is actually not the issue. Remember, it’s a God-given ability so that the eyes of your heart could be enthralled with a vision of him and his kingdom.
We get ourselves into spiritual trouble when we dream horizontally and not vertically. Horizontal dreams may or may not come to fruition, and they occasionally provide temporary pleasure, but they will always disappoint and never deliver what our hearts hunger for.
“For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecclesiastes 5:7, ESV)
Following the Lord doesn’t curse you to a dreamless, destitute, deprived existence. On the contrary, the Christian life welcomes you to the grandest and most glorious of dreams.
Before the foundations of the world were formed, our lives were inextricably tied to God. Our hearts and our dreams were always meant to belong to him. When they are taken captive by anything else, bad things happen in us, to us, and around us.
Dream wide, dream high, and dream well. Dream vertically, and be aware of the traps and temptations of horizontal dreams.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Paul David Tripp
1. What previous dreams have you had that died or disappointed? Identify a minor, less meaningful pursuit that was unfortunate. Then, recall a significant plan for your life that was a crushing disappointment when it went unrealized.
(NOTE: This is the same question from last week; identify two different dreams, if possible)
2. Were there warning signs about your dream that you either missed or ignored? When your dream started to unravel, did you fight even harder to preserve it?
3. How might it have been merciful and loving and wise of God to allow these dreams to die or go unrealized? Can you see God’s goodness now in hindsight? What was your reaction at the time?
4. How might these dreams have been pure initially but then became contaminated and polluted by sin and selfishness over time? What changed, or when did you start to get attracted to and tempted by the created world?
5. What are your current dreams? Are these dreams too small? How can you dream wide, dream high, and dream well—vertically? Be specific, and apply Ecclesiastes 5:7 and Matthew 6:9-10 to your everyday life.