A woman woke up one morning and said to her husband: “I had the most vivid dream last night. I dreamed you bought me a really expensive diamond ring for my birthday. I’ve never had a dream like that before. What do you think it means?” “You’ll know tonight, darling,” he said. Hardly able to contain her excitement all day, she eagerly awaited her husband’s arrival home from work. Sure enough, he was carrying a small, beautifully wrapped package, which he then handed to her.
Thrilled, she opened it… and found a book entitled, The Meaning of Dreams.
There are dreams that are your subconscious activity when you sleep. Creative people have credited dreams for their discoveries. Inventor Elias Howe attributed the discovery of the sewing machine to a nightmare of being captured by cannibals. Howe noticed the holes at the tip of the natives’ spears and designed the sewing machine accordingly. Vladimir Horowitz and other well-known pianists have described playing piano pieces or discovering a new fingering in their dreams that turned out to work perfectly. Robert Louis Stevenson said that his book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came to him in a dream.
There are also dreams that are just your imagination or a distraction when you’re awake. We might catch ourselves talking about a dream house, a dream job, even a dream relationship. And several times a year, we hear ourselves talking about a dream vacation or a dream retirement or the dreamy golden years.
And still there is another kind of dream, more like a vision. This is a dream that runs through your life, like a red line, so important it comes from a higher place, a divine invitation, and even request. These are the dreams and visions that stand as the pillar on which you try to live your life. It is this dream for yourself and of yourself that at the end of your life you might ask whether or not you lived your life so as to have fulfilled it.
Such dreams tell you why you are here, so much so that pursuing God-given dreams is in fact the cornerstone to discovering your divine purpose in life.
Everybody has a dream…or used to. What’s your dream?
Joseph is the patron saint of anyone who has ever felt called and chosen and then wondered how, or if these dreams could ever come to pass.
Joseph is the star of one of the greatest success stories of all time. His story is one of favoritism, envy, betrayal and deceit: it’s filled with passion and betrayal—secrets and jealousy—injustice and reward. He journeys from special son to slave and back again. He goes from a palace to prison and back again—from home to exile to honor—from one of twelve to an orphan to a leader of a nation to the savior of his people. Joseph’s life was a dream that digressed into a nightmare on the road to glory.
You think we have dysfunctional families today. How about a family in which there are four moms with twelve sons. There are first wife sons with first wife’s maid’s sons, and second wife, who is the favorite wife, and her sons with her maid’s sons! Step-sons and brothers, half brothers, servant-women’s sons/brothers all mixed in with Jacob as the lone father! Joseph was one of these twelve boys.
The seventeen year-old Joseph was Jacob and Rachel’s miracle child, golden boy. Jacob, the father, loved Joseph but this love probably led to a family feud, sibling rivalry, and a house divided. Unfortunately, Rachel, the mother, who died after giving birth to Benjamin, her second child, was not there to bring up or reel in her firstborn.
The content of Joseph’s first dream is recorded in Genesis 37:6-7. Joseph was working in the fields with his brothers and this is what he saw: “We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
I’m sure that this was a very vivid dream! Joseph had no problem remembering it. But let me ask you a question: If you had this dream about your angry brothers in which it was pretty obvious you were their superior, is this a time to be silent or a time to speak? I would suggest that this is a time to be silent. Unfortunately, Joseph did not keep the content of this dream to himself. He just had to share it with his brothers! We read in Genesis 37:5: “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.”
No relationship could rival the brothers’ murderous hatred for Joseph, in fact, the Hebrew word for “hate” appears more in this chapter and in their relationship than any in the Bible. Even Jacob, the father, who couldn’t resist his charms, couldn’t stand his bizarre and grandiose dreams.
Joseph was destined for great things, but he also had grand weaknesses and a big ego to overcome. Craving his brothers’ attention, he appeared
where he was not invited, said what nobody wanted to hear, and flaunted what no one else had, from paternal favors to heavenly visions. The young upstart often made a big fuss about his dreams, wore his loud, colorful, and exclusive garment everywhere, and got on every one’s nerves. In short, he was a spoiled kid, his father’s pet, who ratted on his family and was a pest to his brothers.
The truth is, Joseph is young. He believes because he has a dream, because the Lord sends him a vision of his future, he thinks it’s guaranteed.
It’s like talent. A lot of people have talent. What they don’t have is the fight to make that talent alive. You’ve got to have passion as well as talent in order to go from here to there.
Actually what Joseph suffered from is a God-complex. He thought all he had to do was speak the word and his dream would come true. That’s why he went out and told everyone in his family about his dreams. He was going to be like God, who spoke the word and created. But what he forgot was even for God, who was created out of inexhaustible divine resources, such work was actually exhausting. Even for God almighty creating a world, making a dream come true took something out of God. As scriptures says, “And he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done.”
You can’t just go out and speak the word, tell the dream, and have it work out. No dream, no vision, no real moral good, no life-changing blessing, no real forgiveness, no soul-deep commitment, no spirit-empowering transformation happens without the work, without the sweat, without some pain and disappointment, and betrayal and struggle! Nothing that matters deep down, in the bowels, in the heart, in your soul comes without some deep breathing and heavy sighing.
We’ve all got to get to the point when we truly feel like we’ve been thrown into a cistern, a well with smooth edges, high walls, and no doors. When you find your way blocked, when there’s no window in sight, when you are telling yourself, “No way.” But this is when God is saying, “No, there is a way.” God has a way where there is no way. Let your dream stay alive. Keep working at it. Don’t give up. The Lord is making things happen that we can’t see.
Someone may be capable, talented, and promising, but is he wise? Is she disciplined, and mature? It’s so easy to treat people rudely, without tact. It’s more difficult but much better to be gracious. We do this not to get our way. We behave told others not just because the golden rule says to do so.
This isn’t just a commandment that we have to obey whether it’s good for us or not. We let go of our immaturity and ego in order to grow up, grow better. We grow this way in order to be able to take on more of our dream and to be able to carry more of God’s gifts. Empty your ego, let go of your quick pride, and then God can fill your soul with the dream you’ve been dreaming.