The Risk of Dreaming


If dreams were sold on Amazon, they’d be shipped along with a Risk of Failure Waiver. It’s a package deal.

When we pour ourselves out for a vision, we run the risk of Failure. Not simply failed attempts, those are an inevitable part of dreaming big. Passion and belief in the vision give us the grit to get back up and try again after many failed attempts.

The real risk is ultimate Failure; disillusionment, realizing the vision was a mirage. That what you dreamed and poured yourself into is not going to be a reality.

Leaping into something you believe in with all of yourself means the crash landing of failure will hurt every part of you, threaten to wreck you.  You’re left feeling foolish for wasting your time, your passion, your self.

There’s this “What now?” moment when nothing looks the same as before. When the dreams you’ve invested in no longer exist and the landscape of your heart is foreign terrain. What now?

There’s a truth about God that makes all the difference in that moment.  It’s a truth that can silence the cynicism that threatens to take over. It brings a light of hope when pain darkens our vision. What is this truth?

The truth is, nothing is wasted in God’s economy. Nothing. Even in failure or change of direction. All that perseverance, faithfulness, hard work, love, sacrifice. In the face of crushed dreams and rejection. All the times you got it right. And every time you got it wrong. Not one moment is wasted.

It’s a little like Karate Kid.  Wax on. Wax off.

You may think you were learning how to polish a car, but God has been strategic. If you never touch a car again, still none of that effort was wasted.

You may have thought you were training to be a lawyer. Then a year into practicing law your life takes a major turn and suddenly you’re an entrepreneur, or serving in full time ministry. In God’s book, nothing about that is wasted. The studying, the financial discipline to get through school, the job search. Nothing was in vain.  

Wax on. Wax off.  

God has plans for putting all of it to use. It may just look different than you ever imagined. It may have been more about your heart than the skills you were building.

God is truly good and truly loving. He’s able to create the most magnificent things even out of those of us who have been crushed to dust. He’s dreaming for us! He’s inviting us to embrace the risk of broken dreams and walk with Him on this adventure of life. Because, even if we’re hurt again, broken dreams are not the final destination when we’ve surrendered our hearts to God.

So, what now?

Now we cling to this truth that nothing is wasted. We encourage our hearts with stories in the Bible where God proves Himself in this over, and over again. Look at David: tending sheep as a boy, in music ministry in the king’s service, defeating Goliath, living in caves while being hunted, reigning as king!  Nothing wasted.

We allow ourselves to grieve the dreams that were lost, but we don’t stay there because we have a hope that moves us forward. When our hearts refuse to dream again, we trust and rest in God’s goodness. He tells us in the Bible that He draws near to the broken hearted. As we find our joy in Him, He will fill our hearts with new dreams. 

We speak truth to a cynical heart, we trust that God is working for our good, and we ask Him to ignite a new dream in our hearts. And we trust that one day we will look back and see that nothing was wasted.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. ~Psalm 34:18

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. ~Psalm 37:4

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~Romans 8:28

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2 Lessons From a Bad Speaker

I recently attended an event with multiple speakers.  A couple of speakers had messages that immediately resonated with me. I heard from God through their words and was moved to action as I listened to them.  There was one speaker, though, who made a big impression on me…but not in a good way!

Her style was abrasive, even obnoxious at some points, with random intense outbursts that didn’t seem to relate to anything meaningful.  I’ve watched a lot of speakers over the years, and this was truly bizarre!  Her content and presentation was so scattered that it was a challenge to figure out what the point of the message was.

In the days following the event, I spent time meditating on the things I had gleaned from the good speakers.  As I drove to work one morning, God brought to mind a sentence I knew I had heard during the event.  He started using those words to work in my heart and reveal things to me.  It was one of those beautiful, unexpected moments with God.

As I tried to remember who had spoken those words, I was completely surprised with the realization that it was that bizarre speaker!

And right then I had another opportunity to hear from God.  I learned two things in that moment.

  1. God will speak through anyone He chooses.  If I only listen when people and circumstances measure up to my expectations, I will miss out.
  2. God can use me even when I don’t measure up to my own expectations.  He expects availability and surrender, not perfection.

That speaker was available; she showed up!  And in the middle of a presentation that I would not have classified as a “win”, God spoke and God got the glory. And isn’t that what it’s about anyway?

Sure, the wins are nice, too!  It feels great to nail it!  God gets the glory in those times, too.

But those times when we are less than our best, when we feel like we’ve botched the whole thing…those are the times that allow the beauty of God’s grace and strength to shine!

God spoke in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

The Apostle Paul described it like this, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

I’ve been in a season like that in my own life. You know those times when it seems that every flaw has a big spotlight shining on it?  Times when we botch things up and then every attempt to fix things only seems to make it all worse. Times when, at the end of the day, we are left with a list of failures – some real, some imagined – that start to whisper, or shout!, DISQUALIFIED.

When it’s tempting to listen to the voice of defeat, we have to fight back with the Words of Truth!  We have to recognize that we have an enemy who will shout whatever lies it takes to keep us from walking in the purpose of God in our lives.  Sometimes those lies are incredibly believable.  But what does God say?  What is the truth that will silence the lies?  We find the only solid truth in His Word.  Dig into the Bible!  That is how you will defeat the lies!

Recognize that God can use you right where you are, flaws and all.  And that He loves you too much to allow you to stay there.  Surrender, repent, submit, rest in His love and grace….but DO NOT quit!  You are not disqualified.  You are a beautiful work in progress who can allow God to shine through you, in spite of you!  

“… And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28