Thursday, August 6, 2015

How do you know your dream is from God?

When we start talking about pursuing our dreams, sometimes we are afraid that we'll do the 'wrong' thing.  

I'm often dreaming and coming up with ideas, but I'm not always sure if they are of my own making or if God has placed them in me. As with most things on our journey, it's not like we always get a big neon sign that makes a distinction.

So here's another question I was asked recently about pursuing dreams.

How do you know that Portraits of White is a dream from God?  

As I get older, I actually try not to analyze this too much.  I think the underlying concern driving this question might be - what if my dreams aren't from God and they are just my own? 

Here's how I've come to look at it:
  • Did you have any part in deciding you would be born?  
  • Did you decide if you were a girl or boy?  
  • Did you have control over which century you were born into?
  • Did you have a say in the family in which you were born?
  • Did you choose the country? get the idea.

Being afraid our dreams might be selfish is partially based on thinking we have control over our dreams. That is almost ludicrous.  On one hand, we can make choices and choices lead to consequences. Therefore, now that we are in existence, we do have some control. And yet, we don't have control over the big picture. It's paradoxical.

For instance, one of the big factors that led me toward doing the Christmas show was not something I dreamt of or could have manufactured. I currently serve at a church where I never intended to serve.  In fact, it wasn't until after three phone calls from them that I said I would consider it.  

I did not seek this position. It wasn't even one of my goals or dreams. However, because the opportunity fit my gift set and did resonate with some of my musical desires, I said yes. 

It has turned out to be a significant factor in my growth, both as a musician and as a person. I didn't see that one coming.  What seemed to have little correlation with my dreams, turned out to open up a whole new world that unleashed bigger dreams. Something about playing with an orchestra there stirred up something deep down inside me.

Am I in charge of my dreams?  Not really.  And yet I am.  That's why I say it's paradoxical. Once I have an opportunity that resonates with me, I go at it with everything I have.

Here's another angle from which to approach this.  
  • Is a car created to move down the highway? 
  • Is it ok to use the accelerator in the car?
  • Maybe we shouldn't use the brakes even though they were created to make us stop.
  • Should the car be concerned that it's pursuing the wrong thing by driving?
  • Is a flower created to bloom and be fragrant?
  • Should a corn stalk produce corn?
  • Does an apple tree get concerned it will produces apples? Maybe it should produce cherries now that it has strong branches and roots?
If God created me with music inside, why wouldn't I pursue music?  As I keep my heart turned toward Him, is He not leading me and giving me opportunities to apply the gifts He gave me?  Do I have to always ask if a dream is from Him?  

Do you ask God every day when you go to your job is this is the thing you should do today?  I think your boss hopes you'll show up.

Back to the original question. Is my dream to do "Portraits of White" from God? 

I don't know for sure somedays (it's become a very big undertaking) but I do know this:

  • I was born with music in me before I had any control over my skills and desires.  I naturally gravitated to the piano, singing and performing. 
  • I have chosen to develop those skills and pursue the inklings inside of me.
  • In 1988, I felt a strong whisper in my heart that said 'music is your place in the body of Christ'.  I did NOT hear any "you will do a big Christmas show".  
  • Sometimes I do hear something specific, but generally, I spend time in prayer and then move forward with my ideas.  Once in a while, I'll sense a strong leading one way or another, and then I try to follow that.

I keep my senses open for signals (on the inside of me in my spirit):

  • green (go for it) 
  • yellow (caution - timing might not be right)
  • red (don't proceed)

It's like the ancient missionary Paul, who knew he was called to a specific group of people and took trips to find those people.  Once in a while though, the Spirit would tell him not to go to a certain place or city and then he obeyed those specific instructions, but other than that, it seems to me that he spent his life pursuing his calling and dream wherever he went. Unless otherwise instructed, he kept going.

I believe that God created us all with certain abilities and gifts.  They can be deserted or increased, that is our choice. Sometimes we get a little over spiritual about this stuff (me included) and we make it so complicated.  

So with all that being said, yes, I believe my dream for "Portraits of White" is from God. Simply because He is my creator and He built me with music inside. He is big enough to let me know when I start moving in a less desirable direction within those abilities and desires.

So here's a few pointers to help you.

1.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover your dreams.
2.  Spend time listening for the Spirit's voice.
3.  Use any opportunities that come your way and use your abilities well.
4.  Talk to someone who knows you well, believes in you, and see if they confirm what you sense.
5.  Keep moving forward in faith!