When David was in the pasture with a flock of smelly sheep, I wonder if he ever dreamed of being Israel's king someday. Or what about Joseph? I wonder if he thought, "Someday I am going to be second in command of Egypt," or if while Abraham waited for a son, he dreamed about how he would be the father of an actual nation. Maybe like Joseph, you feel you are trapped in a jail cell; maybe like David, you feel as though a "King Saul" is after you. Like me, are you thinking, "What is God's dream for my life?" Are you just trying to get through school or pay rent this week?
In my individual experience, God's plan for my life was never what I had dreamed it to be. To put it frankly, I have dreamed too small, and maybe, you might have done the same.
Let's think about Jeremiah 29:11 which says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" I have seen this verse quoted on high school graduation cards. Jeremiah 29:11 is a Scripture that is often misquoted; we really shouldn't take a verse out of Scripture without considering its context. God is talking to Jeremiah: someone who lived in a time of exile. In their exile, the Israelites were being ruled by the foreign nation of Babylon, suggesting many difficult trials and tribulations. This declaration in Jeremiah is a message to the people of Israel regarding their exile, which was to last 70 more years. Yes, you heard that right . . . seventy years longer! Some people don't even live that long! Sounds like prosperity and success, right? Said no one ever . . . not really what I would call an encouraging Hallmark card. Still, through this declaration, the people of Israel received hope because their exile was sure to end; maybe not in their lifetime, but in the lifetime of their children.
This reminds me of the stories of two people: my mom and a friend.
Firstly, my mom dreamed of being a missionary. She still dreams of teaching the Bible vocationally; however, she stayed home to raise my siblings and I. Her dreams switched— and little did she know, she would someday influence me. My most major growth has taken place because she took her time to teach me the Bible. Today, my husband and I are in vocational ministry because of the amazing legacy she started. I will be forever thankful.
Secondly, I have a friend whose life has been really hard. Just when life seems to give her a break, another family emergency seems to arise. She has so many amazing and beautiful dreams, but not one has seemed to happen for her yet. I am constantly wondering, "why God?" She shared with me just this week about how thankful she is that her family is the first to receive salvation and redemption out of both her and her husband's family tree. Her tone and the look on her face showed me that she was considering how much bigger God's dreams must be for her, as compared to her own limited dreams for herself.
The reality is, we don't know the blueprint of God's will for our lives but we can be confident in knowing that His plans are much bigger than our own dreams. His dreams are so much bigger and better because He is going to use our lives. The biggest mistake we can do when we quote Jeremiah 29:11 is to make that verse about ourselves. It isn't about us . . . Jeremiah 29:11 is about God who is giving an entire nation a bigger picture for their future. Whatever "jail cell" or "exile" you feel like you are in the midst of, God will use it to glorify Himself, which might not happen in your lifetime. To quote John Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
Don't forget to dream. Dream Big. But always remember that God will out-dream you. He's got a wonderful plan for your life. He will use your "exile" moments to reveal Himself to others. God has bigger dreams for your life, and they are not just limited to yourself.
Hannah Lynn hosts Moody Radio’s That’s Real and is an engineer for Karl and Crew mornings. She grew up as a homeschooler on a tree farm, plays the harp (ask her about harp camp), drives a Prius (don’t judge), and started a fashion blog while a student at Moody Bible Institute (yes, that’s possible). Hannah loves to tell people about Jesus—as a seven-year-old she witnessed to her ballet teacher, then she started a Young Life club while in high school. Now she mentors teens with her husband, John, who serves as a youth pastor.
That’s Real with Hannah Lynn gives a one-minute dose of encouragement and advice to young adults who want to love and live God’s Word. Her fast-paced mix of storytelling and Bible truth helps create understanding between young believers and anyone who wants to follow Jesus one day at a time.