The Death of a Dream
Did you dream last night in your sleep? When you woke up, were you able to remember it fully, just in pieces, or not at all? Was it bizarre, happy, or dark and disturbing?
It’s impossible to be a human being and not dream. But there’s another variant of the word dream that I’d like us to consider.
The ability to dream—or perhaps a better synonym, imagine—is unique to humanity. Being able to see the invisible in our mind is a vital gift from God so that, though we cannot see, hear, or touch him, we can still have a relationship with him.
Likewise, vision—the capacity to project forward and think about where you would like to be—is a good gift from the Creator. Christian stewardship requires planning, strategy, and a lot of goals fueled by faith.
But consider this danger: dreams, imagination, and vision are mesmerizing because when you dream, the world and everything in it is utterly compliant.
Even if you’re casting a vision for a church plant, a generational legacy as a Christ-exalting family, or a successful business model that generates profit to fund God’s kingdom, in the realm of personal imagination, you reach all your goals, get everything that you want, and do not have to deal with any detractors.
Dreaming is captivating because the dream world is much easier to live in than the real world!
The fact is that the vast majority of our dreams simply die. They crumble before we ever get a chance to experience or enjoy them. They do this because the real world doesn’t behave the way the world of our imagination does.
In our fantasy world, there aren’t any obstacles or competitors in the way of my dream, but in the real world, there are many deep valleys and high peaks between vision and realization. I’m not in control, and people don’t always do my bidding.
The real world is a place of unrealized dreams and unfulfilled plans.
Why do dreams die? First, our created world is a broken place and therefore does not operate the way God originally designed it. Second, because people do bad things to one another. Need I write more? I know you have experienced this!
But here’s perhaps the most significant reason why dreams die: because there is a God.
Nothing exists outside the scope of his plan. Everything lives under his careful orchestration. Therefore, it is impossible to arrive in any situation before God because he is everywhere, controlling all things according to his wise counsel and for the purpose of his glory.
As much as he has blessed us with the capacity to dream, imagine, and cast vision, our will is not ultimate. The death of a dream doesn’t mean that it was so exceedingly sinful and selfish that God is now punishing you by killing your plan.
It’s not wrong to dream if embedded in your dream is a remembrance of who you are and who God is. I am a creature, and he is Creator. You are human, and he is sovereign. We are finite, and he is infinite.
The best way to respond to the death of a dream is to entrust your disappointment, grief, and pain to your Lord, who governs them all for his glory and your ultimate good. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Many of your dreams will die, but all his purposes will stand.
“Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.
Paul David Tripp
1. Did you dream last night in your sleep? When you woke up, were you able to remember it fully, just in pieces, or not at all? Was it bizarre, happy, or dark and disturbing?
2. What previous dreams have you had that died? 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.
3. How did both of these dreams die? Consider the obstacles in a fallen world that tripped up your plan. Did sinful people interfere, either accidentally, carelessly, or with malicious intent?
4. Have you meditated on the biblical reality that these dreams died because there is a God? How did you engage with the Lord when your imagination did not come to fruition? Are you still wrestling with the Lord over it?
5. How can you protect your heart from being taken captive by a dream? In what ways do you need to re-align your vision with God’s kingdom? Be specific, evaluating how you are planning for the future today.