What’s your dream? Those words remind me of the closing scene in Pretty Woman and make me smile. I had the privilege of going to a conference this month and hearing Jennie Allen (a fabulous speaker and author) talk about dreams. When I was a kid, my head was full of dreams. But now at 33, they can seem a bit foolish. She challenged each of us with the idea that God has given us our gifts, talents, passions, experiences and hurts for a reason because there’s something we can do in this world that no one else can. She challenged us to dream about what our purposes may be and not hold back. So, Will and I did this together. We had a little dreaming session on our way to the beach and then we wrote them down for fun. It was a blast! Dreams of pulling our kids out of school for a year, homeschooling them and traveling the world…of going to Israel, tracing the footsteps of Paul through Italy and Greece, visiting different continents and learning through experience. What an adventure it would be! I wanted to travel the world in my 20’s, but shortly after graduation, I found myself in a cubicle working from 9-5 within a close drive of where I grew up. Somewhere along the way that dream became foolish and costly. But who says it can’t still happen? Or that we can’t save for it now? Or that after 35 your life will just play out on an autopilot trajectory inside the box?
We dreamed of starting a non-profit where we’d take children who have never seen the ocean to the beach and teach them about God through lessons in nature. How much have I experienced the awe and wonder of God at the beach? And it breaks my heart that some people have not seen the ocean. We’d call it “Come and SEA” (John 1:39). We could even take them fishing. Then I realized it would be tricky if someone didn’t know how to swim. That’s when, as an adult dreamer, you come to a crossroads and may stop. But, come on, what does it hurt to write the next sentence on the piece of paper? So, I did. We would have the world’s best life guards and the world’s best life vests on site. Someone would donate some beach front property, we’d have the best speakers for the kids, listen to worship music about the ocean, eat delicious seafood, pick up shells, give the kids a break from their problems and worries at home, experience God and make memories…I kept writing. I have a dream of writing a book. In fact, I wrote the first page last week just for fun. I guess Jennie really struck a deep chord with me when she asked us to dream. Someone just needed to say it and I was ready. God has awakened something in me and I’m thankful. Have you done that lately? Thought outside the box? Written down a dream? Try it!
As I was praying about my dreams and giving them to God, I did a listening prayer. I asked Him how He saw them. And then I just listened. I was expecting some exciting vision of them being fulfilled and maybe even a push to start now. And the message I got was not what I was expecting at all. It’s as if He put His finger under my chin, and lifted my face up to Him, and lovingly said, “Follow me today.” Hmmmm. “Yes… Let me be a big God in your small moments.” Hmmm….now, that’s interesting. It was a Monday when the kids weren’t in school. A pretty uneventful day. But it got me thinking. Maybe it’s not about what we’re going to do with Him; maybe it’s just about Him. Today. That’s enough. I want Him to be the God of my dreams, and I think He dreams of being the God of my day. I think He knows my soul will be restless until it rests in Him in the present tense.
He refers to Himself as “I am” all throughout the Bible. I AM who I AM. I think those two words say a lot about God. He has been here before the beginning, He will make all things new in the end. But yet, He speaks about Himself in the present tense. I AM the God who heals you. I AM the God who comforts you. I AM your exceedingly great reward. I AM with you to save you. I AM with you to deliver you. I AM your shield. I AM the God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. I AM the Lord and there is no other. He doesn’t say “I was” or “I will be.” He says “I AM” and He means today.
And when I see the news and feel unsettled and powerless to help as children are getting beheaded, He says, “I AM the God who exercises kindness, JUSTICE and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” That means right now He exercises justice. We can’t see the full picture. But we can trust in His goodness and justice in the face of evil.
And when He says, “I AM with you always,” it means…HE IS with me in the grocery store when my daughter drops her baby doll a fifth time, when the cashier moves at a snail’s pace and the kids start eating what we haven’t yet bought, when the bagger wants to tell me his life story, when my husband leaves for work and takes my keys, when my daughter refuses to nap or my son dumps applesauce on the floor and laughs, when our new front door is installed backwards, when the widow across the street is in her yard, when I hear about something I was not invited to and it starts to redirect my thoughts and ability to love big. I don’t think God wants to change my behavior in those moments. Holding my tongue and saving face isn’t it. It’s not about my behavior; I believe it’s much bigger. He wants to change my HEART.
This was so well put in a book I read by Lysa Terkeurst (Unglued) where she talks about visiting the the Dream Center in LA, and how homeless people were invited in for food, prayer, love and the support to a better life, but many of them chose to stay on heroine and work the streets. Not because they thought it was better, but because it was just familiar. Some of our familiar thought patterns are hard to release even though a better life is on the other side. Her takeaway coming home was that if God could heal someone from a heroine addiction, He could also heal her from coming unglued the next time her kids threw their towels on the floor. He is that big! It made me laugh, but it is true, isn’t it? We expect Him to be big in the big moments, but then we make that same God small in the small moments?
“Our private thoughts are public to the only One who really matters.” When it comes to the little things, I often overlook my private thoughts (if that even makes sense) because no one else sees them. I focus on my behavior, and how to get through situations gracefully, but my actions and my mind can be in different places. But He tells us to love Him with ALL our minds. To be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our thoughts matter to Him. And I think He wants me to invite Him into all of them, to help me see what He sees.
When He looks at me, He sees Jesus. When He looks at the person who may have annoyed or offended me, He sees Jesus. When He looks at the person I may have subtly judged, He sees Jesus. When He looks at the hurting person I just passed by quickly, He sees Jesus. How revolutionary for me to simply agree with what He sees? And when I look at myself, if I see Jesus, there would be no behavior modification needed. It reminds me of a song, “Lord I need you..because where you are, Lord I am free, holiness is Christ in me.” Holiness is not changing my actions. Holiness is Christ in me. “Put on the NEW self, which is being RENEWED in knowledge IN THE IMAGE of its Creator…Therefore, as God’s CHOSEN people, HOLY and DEARLY LOVED, clothe yourselves with COMPASSION, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS and PATIENCE.” (Colossians 3:10,12). Even on Monday.
I dream about doing amazing things with God. I believe HE put those dreams in my heart, that HE lights a path for them and that HE will see them though. But I also believe He is already doing amazing things, and I don’t want to miss them today! He is standing at the door knocking and asking to enter each moment. To be a big God in the small stuff. Because our hearts, minds and souls are not small to Him. His greatest commandments are to love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds and love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we do that with broken hearts, wounded souls and toxic minds? And what does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves if we don’t love ourselves that much? I heard Christine Caine speak on this and provide great wisdom. She referred to the heart, soul and mind as our core muscles. We cannot run until we first strengthen our core muscles or else our bodies will fall apart. It’s the same way in our race with God. The core is the boring stuff, but it’s ultimately what sustains us. The degree to which we are healed and free is the degree to which we will lead others to the Healer and the One who came to set the captives free! And the degree of change we will bring to this world is the degree to which He has changed us. So what does it look like for Him to help you guard your heart, restore your soul and renew your mind TODAY?
I ask, “God, can we change the world together?”
And He replies, “Katie, may I change you? I AM the way. Follow me today.”
That is more than enough. God open my eyes to this day and each person in it. In the words of Jennie Allen, “Great people don’t do great things. God does great things through surrendered people. And surrender happens every day in 1,000 small moments. SO, WIN THE DAY. Run the steps in front of you.”