Episode 1. Time in the Sanctuary
Each of us has a big dream for our lives. The thing that we really want to do or be. But how do we know whether God’s in that dream? Good Question.
Join Berni as he looks at our big dreams from A Different Perspective.
Each of us has some big dream for our lives. The thing that we really want to do or to be. Some sense of destiny. But how do we know whether God is in that dream? Good Question.
Last week we talked about the dreams that we have for our lives. We all have them. Hopes for the future, something that burns in our hearts, something I want to be or I want to do. So few people ever seem to live out their dreams, to embrace them, to leave their comfort zone, to travel down that hard road to live that dream out.
Over the weekend someone asked me, “What do you mean about all this dreaming stuff? Is it some kind of self-help program, is it being an achiever, thinking positive, achieving success”? “No,” I said, “that’s not what I mean.” “Then what do you mean”? How does God fit into the picture? Now that’s a good question. That’s a very good question.
Almost every morning I get up quite early between 4:30 and 5:00 o’clock. Apparently, I have been like that since I was a little kid. My mother tells me that from the first time I could climb out of my cot, I was up at 4:00 to 4:30 out raiding the cookie jar. So it’s been a lifelong thing for me; I’m just one of those morning people. As I grew up and became an adult, before I became a Christian, I started getting up early again, and the whole day would begin with work. It would be work from beginning to end. Work! Work! Work! Work! Work!
These days I’ve changed my approach. I still get up really early, but I spend the first hour or so with God. I pray, I read the Bible, and when I do that I hear God speak. I sit and wait on Him. You may think I’m crazy. Come on, Berni, read the Bible, give me a break. But that’s what I do. And as I sit and wait on Him, I hear Him speak to me, not in an audible voice. But I get a sense when I read the Bible, I’m reading His Word, and I wait on Him of what God’s plans are, not just for that day, but also for my life. It’s an awesome time, that time of waiting. It’s when I do a lot of my dreaming and planning.
Now dreaming and planning are two separate things. Dreaming is a higher order of function. Dreaming is about saying, “Where is life going? Where’s the ministry going? Where’s my marriage going? What are my plans and hopes and dreams for the future”?
Planning for me is something much more nitty gritty and detail. It’s a lower order of function. It’s about saying, “How am I going to run my day today? How am I going to fit everything in? What’s the priority for today”? And it’s a habit that I’ve come into early in the morning when everyone else is asleep, and when all we hear outside through the window is the old bird waking up. Something I do with God.
Now I have lots of ideas and plans and hopes and dreams. Lots of them! Not all of them fit with God. In fact, I would say, on average, somewhere between half and a third, in my view, end up being in God’s will. The rest were just good ideas that Berni dreamed up sometime because we’re creative people. We all are. You are. I am. We dream. We think. We create. And then we go and act on those things. The question is: “When we dream a dream, when we hope a hope, when we look forward into the future, and we visualise what that future should look like for us, is God involved in that process or do we do it on our own?
In those quiet hours of the morning, I share my hope and my dreams with my God. And the thing that I love to do is to lay them down at His feet. And say, “Lord, I don’t want to live a dream, I don’t want to live a hope, I don’t want to live a plan that isn’t your dream, that isn’t your hope, that isn’t your plan. I want your guidance. Here is my dream. What do you think of it? And in that quiet time in that sanctuary with Him, a still small voice speaks.
During the day I have ideas too, and some build into dreams. But during the day I’m on the phone, I’m in the studio, there’s emails, there’s people, there’s noise, I spend time with my family. It’s not always possible to hear God’s still small voice. Do I receive guidance during the day? Is that God’s plan? Yes, I believe we do. If we’re walking closely with Jesus, if we’re living our lives for Him that in the middle of the day, in the middle of a stressful situation, we can quickly turn to Him, and He’ll give us guidance. But when it comes to the big things, the big dreams, the things that you want to do with your life, do you want God involved? I know I do, but do you? And do you want God involved so much that if the dream isn’t part of His plan, you’ll lay it down. You say, “Lord, I actually don’t want any part of this dream. I don’t want to live this dream, because it’s not one that’s come from you.”
In one of the Psalms, it says even though the mountains are falling into the sea and the nations are raging around you, be still and know that I am God. The mistake that I’ve made in the past, I think the mistake that is common to all of us is – sometime we think, “Wow, this is an exciting dream; I’ll go and live that; I’ll go and do that. We don’t stop. We let the noise guide what we do. We see the mountains falling into the ocean, we see people raging around us, and we let those things guide the way in which we behave. They guide what we do. They guide our plans and our hopes and our dreams, instead of doing what God wants us to do. In that same verse it says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
In your life, how much time do you spend just being still? Just sitting quietly without any other distractions, without the TV blaring or the radio going, or the music on, or the newspaper or the magazine or all these other forms of entertainment? Just quietly on your own with God. The mistake that a lot of people make in marriage is that they don’t do that with each other. They don’t have those quiet times when they just spend some time together. And we can make the same mistake in our relationship with God.
For years, people have been asking me, “When are you going to write a book”? It seems the obvious thing to do. You’re on the radio, you should write a book. I remember as a new Christian being in a large library at a Bible college and looking at so many good books and thinking, “I don’t want to write books. My passion is to speak and not to write. But I’ve always had a sense that one day God would call me to write a book. And so my answer is always, “When God calls me to.” And the last few months, burning inside me, has been this passion to write a book. And yet there’s a tension for me between this emerging dream and that image I had of those books way back at that Bible College, thinking, “How can so many people write so many good books on such a good subject which is God’s love. But people ultimately don’t read much. So I’m torn, is this from God or it just from me? Is something that God is calling me to do or is it something that I have dreamed up? And so I have spent many hours in the sanctuary early in the morning sorting, sifting, and laying it down.
Abraham when he had his son, Isaac, was called ultimately to lay him down, to take him and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Now that’s really extreme. But that’s the picture. God wants us to sacrifice the things that we love the most to Him. And so my thing with God now is that I’m prepared to lay this dream down if it’s not from you. Because I know if it’s my idea, and I pursue it on my own, I will have to do it in my own strength. If it is God’s plan, and it’s God’s idea, and I pursue it in His strength, He’s on my side. It’s a partnership. I don’t want to do things that aren’t in His will.
Down the track, walking through the difficult times in the wasteland when all the giants come against you in your dream, when most dreams die for most people, it’s during those times that I’ve discovered. It’s the dreams that I’ve laid at God’s feet, it’s the ones that I’m prepared to give up for Him, they’re the ones that stay alive. That’s why I get up early in the morning. And sometimes I’m afraid, I’ve got doubt, and I’m feeling lost and I’m wondering whether this dream was ever the one that He gave me and why is it so hard? And I wait on Him, and He renews my strength. He lifts me up. It’s like soaring on the wings of an eagle. And somehow, I can run again without being weary. And all from the simple act of laying each and every dream and plan at His feet, and saying, “Lord, your will, not mine.”