Sixteen years ago, my husband the Norwegian Artist and I had an improbable dream: we wanted to find a place in the country and raise our kids there.
I say improbable because 1) we had four kids and 2) we lived on one extremely moderate income. Most people we knew had half the amount of progeny and twice the number of jobs, and they were barely making it: lower middle class families with too many children need not apply for improbable dreams.
But the dream wouldn’t go away. Early in our search, we found the perfect piece of land, unfortunately beyond our economic reach. Today, however, I write you from our house — mortgage free — set on that exact piece of land. The realization of this dream achieved impels me through the next stage of my life because — you guessed it — we’ve got another wildly improbable dream in our lives, and we are approaching it with a similar mindset.
If you’re like us, and you’ve got a dream that won’t go away, maybe these five thoughts will help:
1) Talk to God about it. As soon as you mention a strong desire, someone is sure to say, “God puts those dreams in our hearts!” and while this is a sentiment you can find in a Joel Osteen statement, it’s not necessarily in the Bible.
What is in the Bible is that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) It’s the specifics, frequently, that need to be worked out:
“To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord come the reply of the tongue.” (Proverbs 16: 1)
In other words, we can trust God to understand, more than we do, those deep, aching desires that simply will not go away — and to bring them to a fulfillment far more profound than anything we can imagine. Give your dream to God, and ask Him to walk you through it, step by step.
2) Don’t go about things in the expected manner. In our search for a country home, we knew we couldn’t afford the typical way of doing things: take out a loan on an existing house and spend 30 years paying it off. No bank would loan us that much — or, if they would (as they did prior to the 2007 housing bubble debacle) we at least had sense enough to know this was financially foolish.
Instead, we lived simply before it was fashionable, saving every penny and dime while our peers bought multiple cars and went out for dinner. When the sellers of the land we wanted, incessantly in need of money, split the property in two and raised the price on each — we snatched up the half-piece, with enough saved money to pay most of the purchase price. A bare land loan from a small local bank did the rest.
We built our house by sweat equity with a contractor who trained us to do a lot of the work ourselves. In the two years it took to get it livable, all six of us shared 1,000 square feet of rustically renovated barn living space. People — including many Christians — observed that we were “different” from anyone else they knew:
“Do not conform any more to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12: 2). This verse can be practically, as well as spiritually, applied.
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3) Share your dreams, with others, on a limited basis. There’s a fine line between telling enough people so that they can keep a lookout for opportunities, and laying your soul’s aches before, well, swine:
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7: 6)
There were a few friends and acquaintances we never told about our country dream, and even after we moved away we didn’t provide comprehensive updates. While they were nice people, they were also depressing ones, convinced that their ministry in life is to inform others how foolish they are to hope outside of convention, and delighting in pointing out obstacles that we were already well aware of.
Today, with our new dream, very, very few people know the specifics.
4) Things take time.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3: 25)
I hate waiting as much as the next person, but life goes on, and while we pursue what we can, step by step doing whatever is set before us, we also interact with our family, fix dinner, and feed the cats. The time spent waiting is not fruitless, and just because we can’t see results doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. If nothing else, waiting gives us time to grow, mature, change and adapt — as does our dream, when we continually give it back to God.
5) With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19: 26)
If you wrote out all the obstacles to fulfilling this aching dream of yours, it would probably fill pages. While the difficulties may seem daunting, remember that you are not doing this on your own. Considering that your every breath is dependent upon God’s giving it to you (“In his hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind,” Job 12: 10), recognize that every aspect of your life is known, intimately, to God.
He can do anything, including getting you through all this.
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