So, so, so much time have I spent fretting over this question. I know I’m in good company.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” In light of this truth, it’s no wonder we struggle knowing if our dream is from God. How easily our hearts lead us to desires we are not meant to have.
The heart is where Jesus lives, but it is the first thing to fall to pride.
So how do we know if our dreams align with His will?
I have learned some key imperatives in my search for an answer.
1. Accept the fact no quick, easy answer exists.
Finding the answer for yourself takes time, faith and trust – three things humans are perennially short of.
In a world driven by soundbites, memes and 800-word blog posts, we often fall into the trap of placing our hope for soul-stirring answers on quick-hit formats.
Rarely does depth of understanding come in the length of a meme.
We must study, pray and wait on the Lord.
2. Ask whom the dream benefits
The talents and gifts God has entrusted to us are meant to be used for the benefit of others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).
If our dreams bring us reward at a damaging cost to others, then that dream is selfish ambition and most certainly not from God (Read: Is My Dream Selfish Ambition?).
Making an accurate assessment of whom our dreams benefit can be difficult to do entirely ourselves. To gain insight, I humbly asked God to reveal my true motives so I could see them for what they were. Also, I sought input from a trusted, godly person. Both took me out of my own perspective and helped me eliminate pieces of my dream that were flesh-driven.
3. Trust God with the specific dream
God hears every note of every syllable our hearts emanate when we think about our dream.
He already knows what it is we desire, and He wants us to bring it to Him in full, unedited and unabridged. (Read: Giving My Specific Dream to God)
To hold back tells Him we do not trust Him. Though control may make us feel good, one thing feels infinitely better.
The kind that comes when we live like Someone far greater is taking care of us, like a father tenderly tucking in his child at night with an assurance of security.
Speak every word of your dream to Him.
Ask Him to take it and make it whatever He wishes. Perhaps it will be the very thing you want, but perhaps it will be better than what you want.
God will not take our dreams and harm us because He decides He doesn’t like them. He will not heap abuse upon us, nor will He denigrate the dreams we bring Him and call them stupid. Bullies do that kind of thing. Haters. Satan.
But not God.
God will say, “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4).
4. Be ready for a no, and trust God with the dream regardless
Submission is an inescapable part of the abundant, Spirit-filled life. We are called to submit to God in all our ways for all our days.
God’s ways are not our own, and His understanding is not our own (Isaiah 55:8). Submission does not mean we need to agree with or understand His moves; it does mean we can trust He is God.
Submission means we are ready for a no.
This can be a terrifying thought. The fear can tempt us to forgo taking our dreams to Him. Yet, sometimes a No is our welcome to liberation rather than a sentence to captivity.
Sometimes we get a No in order to get to a better Yes.
If we trust God through the No, He will not let us be put to shame. (Read: 5 Lessons Broken Dreams Teach Us)
5. Pursue God and the dreams will follow
Many times we ask the question about our dreams and God’s will in the wrong order of priority. We ask if our dreams align with God’s will, rather than asking God to align us with His will.
The Us needs to come second.
An amazing thing happens when we pursue God and His will with everything we have and everything we are:
He grows in us dreams and desires that not only align with His will but are far greater than anything our limited brains can imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
May His dreams become ours
The foundational principle to know if God’s will and our dreams align is to know God first and to love His presence.
The more our hearts chase after and fill up on God through study and prayer, the more our hearts transform to look like His.
When our hearts begin to look like His, our dreams meld into His.
And when His dreams become our dreams, the promises of His Word bear fruit in our lives:
“Believe, for with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:6)
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
May it be so in your life.
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