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Are You Discouraged About Your Dreams?

We all have dreams that have yet to come true. What are yours? Maybe you’re single and want to get married. Maybe you’d like to have kids. Maybe you’d like to have a job where you were really appreciated and made a difference.  It can be easy to lose hope. Our dreams can become dusty old …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

We all have dreams that have yet to come true. What are yours? Maybe you’re single and want to get married. Maybe you’d like to have kids. Maybe you’d like to have a job where you were really appreciated and made a difference. 

It can be easy to lose hope. Our dreams can become dusty old things, like antiques on a shelf. The gap between your dream and your reality can be a place of discouragement or even cynicism.

For twenty years I’ve been dreaming about a generation of radically committed disciples of Jesus. It’s a righteous dream that I’ve worked to breathe life into, but it’s far from becoming a reality. Though I don’t want to admit it, sometimes I’m exhausted and discouraged.

The reality is that many of those we initially mentored when I began dreaming that dream two decades are now the same age I was at the time. 

Yes, you can see little bits of evidence that the dream is happening. Take Veronica Timbers for example. She came on a short-term mission trip with Adventures in 1996. Then she interned with us there. Then she served as a leader with us.

Today she is a professor at Appalachian State. Last week she gave Masters hoods to two people who will be serving with us around the world. Veronica says, “I love having students who are growing up under the same missions group that I did and knowing they are using some of the education I have given them to continue the work of God’s redemption for all.”

The World Race started a decade ago and now, close to a thousand a year go on it. It is a powerful discipleship tool.

Yet…it’s a drop in the bucket. Often people will look at what God is doing and say, “Aren’t you amazed?” And, yes, I’m so thankful for how people have been impacted. I don’t want to depreciate that in any way.

But the dream still seems so far away. And frankly, I don’t want to think about it. Maybe the dream seems more fragile with time. Is my passion for it waning? Probably I’m afraid to go there.

When I recently was getting ready for a trip to Spain, Bob Mudd came to me and said, “Seth, I think God wants to give you a new song while you’re in Spain.”

I thanked him and wondered what that would look like. I didn’t think about my old song – my dream for the generation. 

And then, lo and behold it happened. A number of us were gathered on the sixth floor of an apartment enjoying a meal together. After dinner, Holli Scott got her guitar out and began playing a song she’d written called “Simeon’s Song.”

As Luke recounts, Simeon was an old man who had been waiting on the coming Messiah for a long time. He had this dream. And he knew he wouldn’t die before he saw it come true.

It was a beautiful song. And as she sang, it strummed the tired old chords in my soul. I felt God saying, “Some dreams take a long time. I know your dream. Don’t be discouraged. It may be an old dream, but it’s a good one.”

I couldn’t help the tears from falling as she played. It was a new song about a place of discouragement. God knows my weariness of spirit, even though I don’t want to admit it to myself.

Who knows how long Simeon had waited for his dream? Just to know that he sees me and cares about my dreams was enough. It was the highlight of my trip. 

The prophet Joel declared that “old men will dream dreams.” God doesn’t want us to put our hope on a shelf as we get older.

Do you have a dream that seems so impossible you’re afraid to touch it? Has it been a source of discouragement? 

God made us to dream. Every night as we sleep, he gives us dreams as a piece of our natural rhythm. And I think it’s in part so he has a way to speak to our spirits. Recently, thousands of Muslims have been seeing Jesus in their dreams.

God is literally in our dreams. He’s in yours. He gave them to you to steward.

Maybe it’s time to pull that old dream off the shelf. Touch it and blow the dust away. It’s a righteous thing. Like Simeon, God wants you to see “the substance of things hoped for.” He wants to make your dream come true.

Comments (9)

  • My dear friend Seth. The way you press in, prod and poke at the spirit of listening ears is one of your many inimitable gifts. We don’t always agree but there is rarely a time I’m not *shaken and stirred* by your words which of course are an extension of your considerable heart. Western culture demands cause and effect, linear progression of life’s achievements, binary decision-making and formulas for everything. That is one reason why books with titles like “The Seven Ways to Achieve Your Dreams NOW!” are so popular. We want an algorithm for life, a sequence of events to achieve our dreams and the notion of *waiting* is as comfortable as standing in a TSA line at O’Hare Airport these days. You have heard me say that my life verse is Hebrews 11:13. “These all died in the faith NOT (emphasis mine) having received the promise but confessing from afar they were strangers and aliens on the earth from a different country.” (that is the “Butch” translation) Faith isn’t folly. Hope isn’t haphazard. Belief isn’t BS. Trust is transformative. On those days when the Evil One whispers “Look at the unfinished construction…it will never be finished…no architect…no plans…it is all haphazard and existentially random”…I respond to this in often desperate prayers conforming to King David’s model of *crying out*. I’ll sometimes utter a thousand late night confessionals while staring at a plaster ceiling and say…”The Planet Maker has promised to finish every good work He started. And as long as I’m breathing… the shaping, molding and melding is still occurring.” Thanks for the encouragement amigo. Or as my Israeli friends say…”Todah.”

    • Thanks for the encouraging word, Butch. You’ve always been a friend and an encourager. You’ve encouraged my dreaming heart since we became friends over 30 years ago. I don’t think God’s dreams can keep from shriveling absent encouragement.

      I like this particularly, “The Planet Maker has promised to finish every good work He started.”

  • Seth, This is beautiful and timely…for the past several years there has been so much chaos and clutter (distraction?) in my head most of my dreams have swirled about and some buried…but the dream that has been consistent is a desire to serve in a radical, creative and out of the box way, not afraid to be termed a heretic as I sometimes too bluntly call out (what I view as) phariseeical righteousness…Deb Loyd at GFU helped me find my voice and I am refining my vocational credo which has to do with creating a safe space to have uncomfortable conversations…I graduated with my Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership from GFU two weeks ago…and am entering a season of abiding and listening, where I am in no hurry, but earnestly seek to serve. I know I have fallen off the radar, yet I have always been flying beneath it. I would love to explore ways I can partner with you in singing this new song. My mother is still living, but has really declined, yet I have managed to provide for her care outside of an institutional setting…you have encouraged me tremendously; don’t abandon the dream, I dream with you.
    Shalom, Kathy

    • Kathy – great to hear from you. And great to know that you’re still flying, albeit under the radar.

      Come down and visit us sometime – it’s starting to really get fun around here. God hasn’t given up on us yet!

  • i am really interest with this but i don’t have idea to use it and earn money i try a lots but i can’t do.if i know the idea to work with this i want to work daily in SFI.

  • Seth, Thank you for your dream… it may be just a drop in the bucket – 1,000 people a year… but it is a beautiful drop. And it’s one drop among all the other drops that we are not even aware of… the other “7,000 knees who have not bowed to Baal,” the other 7,000 dreamers in America who are pressing in and waiting on a move of God to see the fruit of their own dreams. I said in Spain that, if nothing else, I will pray that God allows you to stand on the mountain like Moses and see the beginnings of your dream, the promise land, unfold before you eyes. Do not lose faith that God wants to honor your dream! Like David, you may not build the temple, but you can do everything with zeal to hand it off to the next generation. What number of people will satisfy your soul? What number would satisfy any believer in this life? There is no number. Be at peace! And rest in the words that our very own Ali Goldstein said, “Seth, you are God’s ‘Golden Boy’.” Not stone. Not silver. Gold (1 Cor 3:12). Thank you for dreaming, because you have given my the courage to follow my own. God Bless You.

    • You’re welcome, Charles. I so enjoy watching young people like yourself going for it. Thank you for your courage and tenacity!

  • Seth,
    Thank you for this encouraging post. There are many dreams in my head I just have trouble figuring out which ones to take action on. I heard a guy the other day say, “We have to quit only doing things that we believe will have impact on a large number of people (1k or 10k or 1 mil). So many opportunities are passed over because no action is taken because of the perceived limited impact..” He goes on to say, “You need to find the smallest group of people you can have an impact on and then do the best you can with that group of people.”

    From what I know you all are doing that with the 1000 people you see come through each year. Just a thought. God bless!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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