I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to walk through the new Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, DC. It was a powerful experience for me, especially reading the quotes engraved around the memorial. His dream and life message is even more relevant today in light of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country.
Who among us hasn’t been moved by Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic speech? And who among us has not felt intimidated by the scope of his dream?
I believe that God is a God of dreams; He has big dreams, and He invites us to participate in His dreams for our world. I believe God places dreams in our hearts to lead us towards His purpose for our life, but dreaming itself is only the first step to walking into our purpose. Recently, Stephen Mansfield spoke at my church on the topic of “Dreamers of the Day.” His main point was that there has been much teaching on destiny and purpose, but very little on process, and he describes a six-step process that God uses to bring people into the fulfillment of their dreams:
- Receive the dream
- Embody the dream
- Redefine the dream
- Equip for the dream
- Declare the dream
- Live out the dream
We see all six stages demonstrated in the life of Nehemiah. In the days of the Babylonian and Persian captivity of Judah, Nehemiah had a dream to see Jerusalem rebuilt, and we can trace the development of his dream into reality in the Book of Nehemiah.
- Receive: He received a report from his brother about the condition of Jerusalem, which inspired him to pray (1:4, 11).
- Embody: When given the opportunity, he boldly requested a leave of absence from his position as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in order to pursue the fulfillment of this dream himself (2:4-8).
- Redefine: When he arrived at Jerusalem, he discovered that achieving his dream would be no simple task and that there would be severe opposition (4:1-3, 7-8, 11).
- Equip: Because of the threat, Nehemiah equipped the builders with not only building tools but also swords and spears and set a guard for the workmen so that they could complete the work safely (4:16-23).
- Declare: In spite of the opposition, Nehemiah was able to inspire his work force by reminding them of what was at stake, namely their families (4:14).
- Live Out: Finally, Nehemiah was able to live out his dream – “So the wall was finished . . . in fifty-two days” (6:15).
To be honest, I am impressed that the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt in fifty-two days. The dreams I have will take much longer than that!
This year, 2014, I have begun to dream again, and I have been inspired with a fresh vision and purpose for my life. This has really served to energize me and motivate me to set some pretty audacious goals for 2015 and beyond. Some of these are MLK-sized dreams that I have only recently received. I am committing this year to defining and embodying these dreams.
The world needs us to become everything God has designed us to be. What dream has God placed in your heart? What stage are you in towards pursuing that dream – or have you faced opposition and given up on your dream? What are the next steps you need to take to see that dream become a reality?
May 2015 be the year we pursue our God-given dreams wholeheartedly.
Links and Resources
Stephen Mansfield: Dreamers of the Day
6 Bible verses about dreams
34 Bible verses about dreams and visions
35 Bible verses about purpose