Dream to Reality
What do you think of when someone talks about having a dream? I am always intrigued when someone begins to describe a dream they have for expanding their area of ministry or developing a new ministry or business.
Dreams that have substance are ones that create passion. An individual who speaks of their dream with amazing passion energizes and moves me. You can see the passion in their eyes, hear it in their voice, and observe it in their body language. They tend to bring the subject up often and are relentless with the idea that the dream now needs to be executed. You will hear such a person begin to figure out the details of how they might begin and finance the endeavor.
I believe God has endowed each of us with gifts and talents that fit into a dream either we have or He has for our lives. I know at times, our past life experiences cloud our ability or cause us to struggle to find how God might use our gifts. Often, we don’t know the difference between a burden and a calling. Let me explain.
As a child, I was always taken to church. I can remember missionaries coming to our church and telling us stories and showing pictures of their works around the world. On each occasion, I would feel a burden for whatever part of the world and for whatever type of ministry the missionary presented. It was years later when I realized that a burden does not necessarily mean a calling. We can have many burdens and have empathy for many areas of ministry, but a burden is not necessarily a calling.
When God calls us to a specific ministry, He often puts a dream in our heart that we cannot shake. It is a burden beyond all other burdens. We think of this often and consider how we might make the dream a reality. We see down the road to when the dream will be fulfilled. We may even have dreams that we are already accomplishing our set goal.
I believe God wants to give each of us a dream!
On his deathbed, D. L. Moody said, “If God is your partner, make your dreams and plans big.”
Dreaming big is not enough! We’ve all met dreamers. Conrad Hilton said, “To accomplish big things, I am convinced you must first dream big dreams.” He went on to say, “Your dreams must be backed up with much prayer and hard work, or it has no hands and feet.”
At Teen Challenge, we pray hard, work hard, and believe God will bless the work. I have found an additional truth regarding dreaming big dreams—God wants and deserves all the glory! Our dreams, our visions, our goals, often times have to die, come to ruin, be crushed, or destroyed. Why? So, God can revive the vision! So, God will get the glory His way and in His timing!
Scriptures tell us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV). “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
In Nehemiah 1:2-3, Nehemiah had a dream to see His people free. Notice how Nehemiah’s calling came. It did not come from a prophecy seminar, an angel’s visit, an audible voice, or a burning bush. He didn’t even have to call some TV evangelist to get direction. You see, I believe the need was the calling. When Nehemiah heard his brothers sharing what was happening back in Jerusalem, his heart was broken, and he immediately went to his knees. Nehemiah heard of the need and responded from his heart.
Our hearts must guide our dreams. Many people want a divine revelation, heavenly visitation, a voice, a word, or a prophecy before they do anything! What’s wrong with this picture? The need is the calling. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations!”
Think about the needs in your part of the world. What is this generation searching for? Where are the walls broken down in your reality? What needs in your community are screaming out for attention? How do we as Christians respond to these needs?
This generation of youth is disconnected from the organized church. We must find a way to communicate with and listen to them. We must find innovative ways reach them. We must find ways to talk, relate, listen, and care without allowing their exteriors or indifference to offend us. Although they are different and unique, they have needs, and they would love to find out how to have a new life.
Physical and sexual abuse, depression, broken homes, gangs and lack of hope continue to plague kids. Addiction is simply a way of easing the pain and the stress of life. The United Nations state that there are more than 270 million drug abusers worldwide. Do you hear the calling? Those in addiction around the world are calling out to each of us. They want the truth and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
The dream of GTC is to put hope within reach of every addict. That’s our prayer, and we recognize we cannot do it alone.
Can we use the role model of Nehemiah to consider the needs of this world as he considered the needs of his day? Nehemiah had a dream, and he paid a price to see his dream become a reality. We, too, will pay a price to see our dream be realized.
Three truths surrounding the price of a dream:
- Personal Sacrifice - Nehemiah 2:1, 3
First, Nehemiah had to be willing to risk his life by coming before the King with a sad face. He was willing to risk his life for the calling, and this ability separates those who accomplish their dreams from those who do not.
Nehemiah also had to leave his family, friends, security, and his comfort zone. He had a job in the king’s service. He had a family, and he was not responsible for Jerusalem’s condition; however, he was willing to go to fulfill the dream God put in his heart.
He also had to be willing to give up his security and believe God for the provision to meet the needs surrounding his dream. He was willing to ask the King for support, safe travel, and timber from the king’s forest. That is amazing!
Notice that there was no angel giving Nehemiah instructions. There was no cloud by day or fire by night. There was no resounding voice from heaven telling him how to take each step. No one wrote on the wall giving him directions. Nehemiah followed his heart and instincts. He followed the voice of the Lord in his heart and spent ample time in prayer and fasting to assure himself of God’s blessings.
Dreams take personal sacrifice! You will never see your dream become a reality without paying a price.
- Personal Criticism - Nehemiah 4:1-2, 7-8
In Nehemiah 4, we see that Sanballat threatens Nehemiah. Many of the great leaders of the Bible and men and women who accomplished great things for God have had to contend with personal criticism. This scripture helps me realize that personal criticism is not new in my lifetime. Sometimes, that criticism comes from those you least expect. Speaking from personal experience, you might also want to plan on some pain. Pain is part of the process. It saddens me when someone begins to see part of their dream become a reality, and others begin to criticize.
There always seems to be someone happy to criticize and rain on your parade. Someone will always question your motives. Someone always seems to have the inside scoop on why your dream won’t work. They might say, “I tried, and it didn’t work.” I’ve found that human nature is quite similar to that of a crab. If you put a bunch of crabs in a pot, they will all stay there even though they can climb out on their own. This happens, because other crabs will grab onto them before they are out of the pot and pull them back down.
I remember when I heard one of my peers say something derogatory about me. I have learned to simply stay focused, do what God is asking me to do, and forget what others are saying. I have to answer to God for my actions. I don’t have time to worry about someone criticizing me.
When someone or some group criticizes you, pay no attention to the criticism unless the criticism has merit. Do what is right. Make the necessary changes if you have offended someone, but press on to your dream. Dreams will be challenged, tested, and proven! You will be criticized! If God has planted a dream in your heart, a vision for reaching the lost, or enlarging your borders - HANG ON!
Remember the need! Focus on that need! Hang on like a pit bull on a lamb chop! God will see you through! Nehemiah dealt with criticism that came his way. In Nehemiah 4:12, we see that ten times, they told them of threats. Nehemiah heard threats and criticism over and over yet he pressed on.
- Personal Commitment
In the story of Nehemiah, we see that the people who were helping to rebuild the wall were at risk. There were death threats. Nehemiah was feeling the responsibility of completing his task while keeping the people safe from harm. He showed us character of endurance and tenacity. Nehemiah ran the risk of failure to do something great for God! Risk separates the good leaders from the great leaders. Risk is equated with faith, and one must have the ability to know when to take the risk needed to succeed.
Nehemiah had to contend with a false prophet who prophesied against him in chapter 6 verse 12. Nehemiah’s enemies had paid off this false prophet. Think about that! Nehemiah had a priest who was prophesying falsely for payment. We, too, must consider the words of someone who is using a spiritual role in the wrong way to criticize or threaten our dream. Some Christian leaders may be the first to try to stop your dream.
Nehemiah also had to deal with the strength of the workers giving out. This challenge included a lot of rubble as well. In Nehemiah 4:10, “The people’s strength is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild this wall!”
Does this sound familiar? I think every building project I have ever been involved in has some of these features to them. It is harder to rebuild than to start from scratch. The rubble was so great, it took personal commitment to God’s calling for Nehemiah to fulfill his dream.
The rubble represents the potential to use something broken for good. It seems to me that is the business we are in and the business that God is in. He makes something beautiful from the rubble. Teen Challenge’s ministry of putting hope within reach of every addict is reaching out to the hopeless and giving them hope. It is taking the captive and watching Jesus set them free.
Long-term commitment is not running when the first major crisis hits. When the money is tight and the laborers are few, remember, “... my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, KJV). Paul said “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, KJV).
Teen Challenge’s ministry is about:
- Taking the blind and giving them sight.
- Taking the hungry and feeding them.
- Taking the lonely and giving them a friend.
There will be rubble in the way. God loves rubble! He loves turned over stones. He loves broken hearts. He loves drug addicts. He loves children. He loves you!
If you are going to see your dream fulfilled, you will pay the price of:
- Personal sacrifice
- Personal criticism
- Personal commitment
Nehemiah 6:15-16 says, “So, the wall was completed. When our enemies heard about this and all surrounding nations saw it, our enemies lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God!”
If you are faithful, your dream will one day become a reality! God will make a way! He gets the glory. Someone once said, “The poorest man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.”
True dreams begin at Calvary.
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge