“She’s a dreamer,” my mother would say. There is a photo of me with eyes half-closed, gazing at something beyond the camera, in the album she compiled of my early years. Next to it, she wrote: “I am a dreamer.”
I flashed that picture the day I gave my first TEDx talk, which was on dreaming, the theme of the conference that year.
Clutching a piece of cardboard with “Creative Writer” written on the front and back, I triumphantly told my audience to “Settle to Not Settle.” The front of the cardboard
represented what you were studying or pursuing for work; the back of it, what you dreamed of doing. If there was a difference, it meant you still had a dream to achieve one day — effectively closing that gap, as I already had by then. Don’t settle until the front and back of your “cardboard confession” are the same!
But did I really follow my dreams? I wonder, almost ten years from that moment. Did I
truly spend the last decade in creative writing and producing for a living because I was
pursuing what I desired? Well, here’s the truth from where I stand: I don’t think I followed my dreams as much as I followed the hand, heart, and voice of God. The journey has been wild, and He made this happen.
I cannot, in good conscience today, tell you to follow your dreams, but I can tell you that your dreams point to who He has made you to be, more than they show you what you’re
supposed to do with your life.
Following God has not looked like Him giving me directions on big life decisions whenever I demanded them. No, most of the time it has been like this: the hand of God putting a finger on an area of my character that needed Christ-like transformation; the heart of God convicting me to love my neighbour; and the voice of God reminding me that I am His child, whom He loves.
You see, with a God who has promised to lead the way, you don’t need to strive to fulfil
the dreams in your heart or worry about your future career. Don’t settle for the world’s wisdom that a good life means chasing dreams, climbing the corporate ladder, making money, or finding success. Settle, right now, on following the God who has bigger dreams for you than you could ever have for yourself.
It says in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s workmanship, His dream brought to life for the good works He has already prepared in advance for us to do — “that we should walk in them.” Whichever way you have been walking, even “following the course of this world” on a path that leaves you “dead” rather than alive in Christ (Eph 2:1–2, 5 ESV), God knows the way you should go. The Creator knows exactly who you are, and what He created you to do. Follow Him!
If I could do it over, the front of the cardboard would have my dream, and the back, God’s dream for me because more than ever, I trust Him. His heart is completely for me, and I’ve learned that the real work is what’s being done in you as you follow Him. And as He changes you, step by step, your dreams for your life will one day align with His for yours.
These dreams probably won’t deviate too much from the passions you’ve held from younger — you’ll still be a dreamer, as I am. The dreams will just be bigger, bolder, and wilder than you can imagine. They will serve the kingdom and bring you incredible joy. Follow His hand, follow His heart, follow the voice of God. Settle to not settle.
Dear Lord, You see me for who I am and all You have made me to be. Help me to know You for who You are and the depth of Your love for me, that I may trust and follow You with my whole life. Amen.
1. In your heart of hearts, what are the dreams you hold for your life? Sit with God and dream with Him.
2. Are there areas where the hand of God is leading you? What is He showing you about His heart through the Word? How has He been speaking to you recently?
KNOW THE WORD
Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate His truths for you in these passages:
– Psalm 139:1-18
– Jeremiah 1:5-8
– Isaiah 43:1-4
Check out my 2012 project on dreaming, “I Still Have a Dream” here.
And my TEDxYouth talk on “Settle to Not Settle” here.