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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Dreamer

By Terry Hart
March 27, 2011

The story of Joseph inspires us. There are few things in life that can inspire us more than seeing good people who have been beaten down arise from the ashes to soar like eagles.

Almost everyone can identify with Joseph. We all have been hurt. Sometimes the ones we love the most can hurt us the worst. All of us have had our good intentions misunderstood. Many of us have been falsely accused in the process, knowing full well that we have not done anything wrong.

Joseph’s narrative in Genesis 37-50 tells the story of Jacob’s favorite son, snatched away from the family into Egyptian slavery. His God-given dreams would become markers along his life path, until that day when he would rule Egypt and carry out one of Scripture’s greatest missions of deliverance. There are some wonderful lessons to consider from the life of this “dreamer” named Joseph.

This is going to be a little tough to swallow, but sometimes you have to pass by way of the pit and the prison before you finally arrive at the palace. The pit is a lonely place. The prison is a very uncomfortable place. We do not enjoy our visit to the pit or the prison. But, if we are faithful, the palace awaits those who dare to hold on to their dream.

Dreams are not confined to a location nor subject to a set of circumstances. Dreams do not die in the pit, nor do they die in the prison. Dreams die within the heart. Only you can allow your God-given dream to die. No one can take it from you. You have to give it up.

Joseph’s brothers could not destroy his dream. The lies of Potiphar’s wife could not destroy it. Pharaoh’s butler could forget Joseph, but that did not destroy the dream. Only Joseph had the power to stop the dream God had placed deep within his spirit.

Sometimes people simply abandon their dreams. They leave a dream deserted on the doorstep of life to lie dormant like an acorn on the ground. But seasons of dormancy do not destroy the hope of a dream’s fulfillment.

You can put an acorn in a shoe box inside your closet. You may even forget where you put it. One day you discover it in the shoe box. You decide to take it out and bury it in your backyard. You put water and fertilizer on the spot where it is buried and guess what? That acorn turns into an oak tree.

Perhaps your doubts have placed that dream in a mental shoe box. This is an absolute impossibility, you think. This can never happen to me. I am not good enough. I was born in the wrong family. I do not know the right people. I can never succeed.

The devil will try to destroy your dream by getting you to reason it away. He whispers in your ear, “Ah, you just thought God spoke to you. See, you were mistaken. You are hearing those imaginary voices again.” He tries to get you to rationalize the dream. He wants you to take it to the spiritual lab, put it in a test tube, and run mental and emotional tests on it until it seems to evaporate into thin air. “See,” he whispers, “I told you it wasn’t real. Just surrender to the darkness of your prison cell.”

Do not think for a moment that Satan did not talk to Joseph that way. But all along you know it is God’s voice that you hear. You are one of His sheep, and His sheep know the sound of His voice!

Dreaming is not always a popular thing to do. You have to be a risk-taker to dream. Not everyone is going to get excited when you share your dream with them. Some people will become jealous and angry about your dream. Joseph’s brothers were mad enough to want to kill him.

Dreaming requires faith, and faith unlocks the door to the favor of God. Hebrews 11 is full of dreamers — those who believed by faith that God would do what He said He would do.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3, NKJV).

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household” (v. 7).

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13).

“By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (v. 27).

Remember this: Dreaming may invite adversity, but if you can endure the adversity and the criticism, God always blesses those who dare to embrace His dreams. Four times in Genesis 39 the Bible expresses that God blessed Joseph.

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man”(v. 2).

“And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand” (v. 3).

“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (v. 21).

“The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (v. 23).

Where have all the dreamers gone? Where are all the visionaries in the Church? Think of Joshua and Caleb. Numbers 13 and 14 contrast their powerful faith with the fear of the Children of Israel who balked at fulfilling the God-given dream of conquering Canaan. The body of Christ needs people who can look beyond all the reasons why we can’t and boldly declare that we can.

I had a tree in my yard that split apart last winter, so I had to have it cut down. Only a stump remained. Now, shoots are coming out of that stump.

In a moment of despair, Job said:

“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its roots may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant” (Job 14:7-9).

An ugly stump looks pitiful. It is a sign of what used to be — a productive, tall, green tree that at one time was full of life. Now, all that remains is a stump. But notice something here: not a rainstorm, not a cloudburst, not a long, extended shower, and not even a brief drizzle is mentioned. Only the scent of water brings life back to the stump.

God may not awaken you in the middle of the night with a concise solution to your problem. You may not hear the distant rumble of thunder or feel raindrops falling on your head. But every now and then, God will give you an occasional “scent of water.” When your dry and thirsty soul smells even the hint of His leading, you will begin to sense life flowing through your situation that, from all appearances, looks dead.

Hold on to the dream God has given you. He will bring it to pass in due time.

TERRY HART is director of publications at the Church of God’s Pathway Press in Cleveland, Tenn.

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