As a counselor who does a good bit of Life-Coaching, I often hear people restrict their goal-setting based on self-imposed barriers rooted in their past and present selves. For example:
I cannot have the family life I want, because I am too often away to develop good parenting skills.
I cannot seek the education and career I want, because I am already well into my adult years.
I cannot become the person God wants me to be, because of my past transgressions.
I cannot enter into missionary or ministry service because I am not young enough.
Of course, each of these excuses are based on fear and have roots running deep from one’s weakness of faith. Never the less, these feelings are very real for the person experiencing them, and for most people, they will direct their lives. We have all heard the term, self-fulfilling prophesy; but most of us do not realize we are experiencing them.
Here is the problem with a self-fulfilling prophesy: It is the manifestation of a lie-of-the-world, which is self-imposed as a real and true boundary that one allows to become true. Right now, you may be thinking that you are capable of conjuring up something good and believing you can accomplish it – and I will not dispute that possibility. But I will suggest that it is next to impossible for our flesh, which lives in the world, to develop any concept that is truly and completely in accord with God’s design.
In general, we are small thinkers. We think we are thinking outside of the box when we are clever enough to set our goals in such ways that they dodge our weaknesses. We try to manipulate the world by allowing the one who despises us to show us how to navigate around the very obstacles he places in front of us. It is a good thing the pioneers did not allow an ocean to keep them from finding the American east coast, or allow the Rocky Mountains to keep them from finding the West. Allowing the world or ourselves to direct our paths while compensating for our past, causes us to seek small outcomes. We can successfully think big, but only if we stop looking back and allow God to take us forward.
Dream Big in the Spirit
First of all: If we let God be the director of our every move, we can and must be ready for big outcomes. If we are to think big, we first must shed from our understanding, the idea that God is subject to the restrictions of the world. Thinking Big begins with knowing that the Lord lives in us (Rom. 8:10-11), and is working to remove personal desires (Gal. 5:19-21) and replace them with spirit provided fruit (Gal 5:22-23) . Also, know that the Holy Spirit is all about forward motion and big thinking. We learn from Jesus himself in John 16:13, that the Holy Spirit will show us things that are to come, and that everything He says points to truth - which is by the way, validated and confirmed through the Holy Bible.
So if one is to dream big, their dreams must be based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not be understood to be restricted by the passions of the flesh. Our dreams must never be based on the past, but on the future according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Do not let the Past Shrink your Dream
You are about to start thinking that I am one of those crazy philosophers who is sure he can make truth out of anything he desires. Well here goes:
The past does not exist. It is not real and it has no practical hold on the here and now. It does not live, and it has no DNA— as much as the world wants you to believe that the past can ride around on an amino acid inside your being, it is just not possible. The past is just not real and has no power to control your ability to Dream Big.
Give me a moment and I will get to the biblical crux of my argument, but first I want you to try a couple of things:
Reach out and touch your past.
Modify your past to make it better agree with your current thinking.
Give your past (modified or not) to someone who is sitting near you, so they can experience it.
Were you able to do any of these things with your past?
So, is the past real?
Here is the point: The past has no actual ability to keep you from dreaming big, because it only exists in your memory; not as DNA, but as a simple electrical impulse stored in a microscopic nerve in your brain. It is so powerless that a microscopic bit of plaque can block its ability to transfer to any other nerve to create a memory recall (Alzheimer’s). The past is an intangible thing that only exists as a memory, much like a bit of data on a thumb drive.
Live in the Now, not in the past.
God told the people of Israel to “remember not, the things of the past.” (Isaiah 43:18) He went on (according to the same verse) to tell them to not consider the past. I find this rather exciting because God is telling us that it is indeed possible to make a plan without including or using a memory. In fact, he is actually stating that it is possible to completely abandon a memory of the past. This sounds a lot like dream big freedom.
It was God’s desire to move Israel forward, but He needed them to abandon their memories of the past, to eliminate the world’s hold on their motivations. Jesus came to move us forward, by making it possible for God to not consider our sins when He decides our eternal fate (1 John 1:9). God desires that we move forward, so he made it possible for us sinners to have a mechanism that would make it possible for Him to send us into eternity with His blessing – Jesus Christ. Now take a breath - that was a lot to read, even if you were not reading aloud, but it is impossible to separate anything from that statement. The word forgive in Greek is aphiēmi which translates as send forth. In spite of our pasts, God wishes to send us forth, not hold us back because of our past. Thanks to Jesus Christ, we are able to move forward without looking back. Do you remember what happened to the one who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah? Just remember this: We are made new and able to dream big. (2 Cor. 5:17)
So who decides what is big?
Finding deficiency in ourselves is common and very easy to do. We tend to look in the mirror and see the one who must make the decisions, formulate the plans, create the environment, and seek success. That moment we see looking back at us, our human self who is in charge is the moment doubt and discouragement enters the equation. We want to dream big; but do we have big in us? Many times, big is something that is just a little bit better than what the moment has to offer. Just ten dollars more, is bigger than the eighteen dollars an hour we are earning now. Fifteen minutes more, is bigger than the two hours I get to spend with my family. Just one year newer, is bigger than the fourteen-year-old car I am driving.
We are limited in our ability to dream big, because we are looking to ourselves for the intelligence, creativity, organization, leadership, and experience to make such a dream become a reality. We are looking in the wrong place. How many times have you heard, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”? I am sure it has been many. What you may not realize is just how far reaching the acknowledgment of our lack of understanding should be. We are completely limited in our ability to look into the future and see the result of our plans, but God’s vision is eternal. He knows the outcomes and the ways to reach them. So:
Dream Big: Make the difference the Lord wants you to make.
Dream Big: be the parent the Lord calls you to be.
Dream Big: Be the overcomer that only the Lord can make you.
Dream Big: Be the witness, minister, missionary, and servant the Lord made you to be.
You can always dream big when you put God out front, because out front and moving forward in big ways is how God does it.
Mark Painter, MAPC, BCCC