You can probably summon to your recollection easy-enough memories of inspirational posters or Facebook wall photos that urge you to “Follow your dreams!” A dream is a grand thing, but it’s grander by far to see it come true. To have a dream come true is wonderful, but to have it come true so that it overflows the cup of our temporal expectations to become a flowing river that nourishes the souls of untold others is beyond all wonder.
Such was the case of King David who, it is recorded in 2 Samuel 7, dreamed of honoring the Lord God with a temple. Hitherto, the active worship of David’s people had centered around the tabernacle (think of a large, fancy tent custom-made to God’s specifications and you’d be about right). The temple would take the place of the tabernacle and become the center for their sacrifices and a symbol of God’s presence on earth.
David’s dream was meant well and was received well – as far as it went. God knew that His servant’s heart was in the right place (so to speak): David wanted to bring glory to God and it hurt his heart to think that there he was building for himself a kingly palace while the Lord still “lived” in a tent.
But God said no. It wasn’t David’s calling to be the one who would “build a house for God.” In fact, it would be God Who would build a house for David. The house of David would be an enduring house that would outlast the cedar and stone used in the temple and would last through all eternity in the Person of the Messiah, the Christ that we call Jesus.
On one level, David’s dream did not come to fruition. He would not build a house for God. He could have reacted with resentment, despondency, and bitterness. But he didn’t. He let the dream go. He didn’t give up on it, but instead released it into God’s hands. And because he did, the Lord fulfilled that dream through David’s son, Solomon, who built one of the most beautiful structures the world had ever known.
Dreams can be hard to let go of because we fear that in doing so the dream will never come true. We may be tempted to doggedly follow our dreams and ignore the immediate daily responses required by God in following Him – namely, opportunities to live sanctified lives of service and love others as ourselves.
But the more we hold onto our dreams to the point of ignoring the daily cost of discipleship, the more we forfeit the potential for divine fulfillment of our dreams (at least if our dreams are truly God-centered and not self-centered).
I know people who want to do things for God and set out to do so without really consulting Him. Their hearts are in the right place (so to speak): they want to bring glory to God and it hurts their hearts to think of all the ways people steal from God the glory due Him (from matters of their personal salvation to being the radical disciples we all are called to be).
That’s not to say that we’re passive about the fulfilling of our dreams. David didn’t just kick back and, because it wasn’t his job, announce, “Oh, okay then. I’ll not do anything about it and will just do my thing.” No, he did all he could do to set up what Solomon would need to get the job done. David chose to by faith continue to believe that his dream would still be fulfilled – even if he would never see it himself.
Sometimes the best test we have of whether are God-centered or are self-centered is by our response to the question, “Would I still labor and sacrifice for the fulfilling of my dream if I don’t get credit for it or if I don’t get to personally enjoy it?”
The answer to that question is intimately tied to whose kingdom we really are seeking first (Matthew 6:33) and determines for you and for me the realness of our Christian devotion.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act” (Psalm 37:4-5 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)