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Timing, Cost, and Sand Sandwiches

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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A clear creek laughs and gurgles through the hills, pooling in the deep shade of cypress trees. A dozen cabins rest among clusters of mesquite and cedar; children splash in the river and parents read in lawn chairs. A chapel crowns the hill view of the Texas sky that puts to rest any doubts of heaven’s majesty.

This is my dream: to build a cozy retreat center for clergy families.

How do I know my dream is God-given and not just some idea of mine? Where do dreams come from? Is it too late to pursue this one?

Jacob’s story helps me when I wonder about dreams. It starts with his mother’s message from God in a dream: the younger son shall rule the older. Seeing no other means, Rebekah and Jacob scheme the blessing away from Esau, and Jacob flees to his uncle Laban. His journey is bracketed by two dreams, both involving angels. At long last, the original goal comes to pass and Jacob enters the land promised to him.

This story holds several insights about goals, besides evidence that God can use anyone to further His purpose (even wily tricksters). First, God somehow puts His stamp on the idea. Rebekah knew instantly that her dream was from God. I don’t always know instantly. If I continue to pray, however, sooner or later God shows His hand. I knew the retreat center was God’s idea, because at the time we could barely pay the rent, yet this dream took hold with tentacles. On my own steam, I would never have given a second thought to something so impossible.

Second is timing. Jacob’s first dream—the angels on the ladder—affirmed his coming journey. On a spiritual high, he entered Laban’s service only to run into trouble, trickery, . . . and waiting. Once in a while, God springs the vision and fulfillment in quick succession. More often we receive the vision, then, like Jacob with the wrong bride or the Israelites when they left Egypt, we encounter a desert experience and eat sand sandwiches for 40 years.

Yet the dream is no less God’s. And in the interim, He teaches us.

Finally: the cost. Jesus tells us to count the cost before we make elaborate plans. Unfortunately, I’m often too ignorant to know what’s involved. (For example, after we’d prayed many years for children, God gave us two beautiful dream babies from the Gladney Home, an adoption agency. At that point, who could have told us the cost of raising teenagers?) Jacob paid for dream fulfillment with a permanent limp. We must prepare to pay a price.
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