Has God given you a dream about your future?

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Engineers love using things called gantt charts to set out the different steps and stages involved, and to show which steps are dependent on the completion of other steps, and to arrange things in a way that is most efficient in terms of labor, materials and workforce.

From this point you can work out the critical path of a project – which is a combination of all the steps whose completion timeline will impact the finish date of the project.

In an engineering world, what you’re trying to do is get a project from point A to point B with the minimal amount of fuss and you typically work from the first step of a project, through to the last step of a project.

For the last 12 years or so, while I’ve been at home with my children, I’ve learned a lot about marketing strategies, particularly in the online space.

What’s interesting is that a strategist often plans projects in the complete opposite way to an engineer – by starting at the desired outcome and working backwards to identify all of the different elements that need to be completed in order to achieve the strategic goal.

So if I were planning a website using a strategic mindset, I’d start with the launch day and work back one step and one milestone at a time – and make sure I had everything covered that way.

One of my favorite stories in the whole Bible is the story of Joseph – which starts in Genesis chapter 37 and goes all the way through to Genesis chapter 50.

When Joseph is a young man he has some dreams, one of which involved being out in a field, tying up bundles of grain with his 11 brothers, when suddenly his bundle stands up and all the other bundles gather around it and bow down to it.

Another dream involved the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down low before him.

Naturally, Joseph’s eleven brothers weren’t too pleased about these dreams, or about Joseph’s attitude, or about the way that he was favored by his father. So they plot to kill him, before toning it down a notch and selling him to Midianite slave traders instead.

After being transported to Egypt, Joseph is sold to Potiphar, who is the captain of the palace guard for Pharaoh.

Genesis chapter 39 verse 2 tells us that ‘the Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master’ which resulted in promotion after promotion until Joseph was handling everything Potiphar owned.

Potiphar is pretty happy with Joseph, but unfortunately so is Potiphar’s wife – and after Joseph repeatedly rejects her advances, she falsely accuses him and Joseph is thrown into prison.

Genesis chapter 39 tells us in verse 21 that the Lord was with Joseph in prison and made Joseph a favorite of the prison warden.

Before long, Joseph is put in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison.

Some time later, two of Pharaoh’s servants are thrown into prison and both have dreams about their future, which Joseph is able to correctly interpret.

One of the servants, a cup bearer, is restored to his former position and the other, a baker, is executed.

Two whole years later, Pharaoh has a dream that no-one can interpret – the cup bearer remembers Joseph is pretty good at the dream interpretation thing and Joseph is called in to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.

Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph’s dream interpretation skills and recommendations that he puts Joseph in charge of the entire land of Egypt – second only to Pharaoh.

Over seven years of abundant crops, Joseph stores up grain that is sufficient to tide Egypt and the surrounding areas over the following seven years of drought.

As the drought bites, Joseph’s brothers find themselves in Egypt begging for grain to feed their families.

They don’t recognize Joseph until he reveals himself to them – which is after they bow down before him – fulfilling the dream he had as a youngster. Just like that, Joseph’s dream from years beforehand became a reality.

But lets have a think about was Joseph actually did in order to make that dream from his childhood happen.

In each of the positions he holds, Joseph is continually promoted in recognition of the success he experiences, which the bible closely links to the Lord being with him.

At the same time, Joseph faces significant setbacks.

From favored son to being sold into slavery, from managing the house of an important man to prison, he must have had times when he wondered whether his dreams were ever going to happen.

Joseph’s story teaches us that in the Kingdom of God, the way to make our dreams a reality is not to force them into being in our own strength, but to rely on the guidance of the holy spirit and to make sure we take the next step on offer to us.

Psalm 119 verse 105 says that God’s word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

One thing that I know about lamps, is they don’t cast a lot of light – and if you’re using a lamp to light a path in the darkness – then you’re not going to be able to see a long way ahead. But that’s ok, because we can trust that God has the big picture under control, and we only need to take one step at a time.

And once we take that step, we can see a little further along the path with our lamp and we are able to take the next step. You see, if Joseph had used the engineering approach to making his dream happen – he would have planned out a whole series of steps in order to position himself powerfully relative to his brothers and his parents.

But even if he were a planning genius – it’s unlikely that he could have imagined the end point scenario where he was in a powerful position in Egypt during a famine – so the end point he constructed would have fallen far short of what God had planned in terms of impact.

And if Joseph had used a strategic approach to making his dream a reality, he would have mapped out a whole heap of things that would need to happen and the way that those steps inter-linked with one another, and then set off on a mission to achieve all of those individual things.

But even if he had impeccable strategic wisdom, it’s unlikely that he would have included being sold as a slave to Egypt as one of the steps, or spending years in a prison.

What Joseph DID do, at every step – was remain faithful to God, and to take the next step that was available to him.

Each of those steps combined to land him exactly in the position that God had shown him in his dreams.

You might ask why God would bother to give us a dream of what our future holds if we’re not expected to make it happen totally under our own steam. Well, in Joseph’s case, the dreams must have given him hope for the future, even as he was being sold as a slave by his brothers, while he was languishing in an Egyptian jail, and while he was working hard for Pharaoh.

And at the end, Joseph knew that it was God who had sent him to Egypt for a far greater purpose than his brothers had originally intended when they sold him.

So when you think about the dreams that God has given you, if they seem too big to be possible and you have no idea where to start – then be encouraged, because you have the Word of God to light your next steps and you have the Holy Spirit to provide guidance.

God never expected you to go away and accomplish the whole thing on your own, he’s wanting to co-labor in kingdom building with you… but the most important thing is to not remain stationary.

All we need to do is keep moving along our path, one step at a time, be responsive to the Holy Spirit and God will look after the rest.

Until next time, blue skies!

P.S If you found this idea interesting or useful, save it for later by pinning it to your Christian Encouragement board on Pinterest.

P.P.S. If you have a friend who might benefit from this message, make sure you take the time right now to share this with them!

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