Sometimes it’s those who are closest to us that are the most threatened by our dreams. Sometimes the dreams that we hold on to and share with our loved ones really challenge their own ambitions.
What do I mean? Well, sometimes when we have a dream of what God may do with us, or what we’d like to happen with us, maybe an ambition that would afford us some level of success, it’s those closest to us who may be challenged to view your dream as a threat to their own dreams or ambitions. When this happens those closest to us can seem to become the greatest hindrance to our dreams and ambitions.
Let’s take Joseph for instance, he gets a lot of airtime in Genesis, the first of the five books of Moses, the same book that introduces us to the Judeo-Christian God Who reveals Himself as the cause and source of all purpose, existence, and life. Joseph seems to be an important figure, and of course he is. It’s his story that fulfills part of God’s promise to Abraham. In Genesis 15:13 God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years. This 400 years begins because of what God does with Joseph’s life.
But what about threatening dreams? You remember in Genesis 37 where Joseph begins to hear God speak to him in his dreams? Joseph’s got 11 brothers, and he seems to be a bit of a sniveling twit to me, if I’m perfectly honest, but we shouldn’t be surprised. He’s the son of a manipulative swindler, Jacob, who cheated his brother out of both his birthright and his father’s blessing. Joseph tattletales on his brothers to get on dad’s good side (Genesis 37:2), he struts and flaunts the fact that his dad favors him over his brothers (Genesis 37:3-4). So, Joseph doesn’t start out as the kind of guy we want to emulate. Really, he’s kind of a jerk.
But it gets worse…
He has these dreams, one that symbolizes all his brothers bowing down to him, the second that symbolizes his entire family bowing down to him. As we find out, these dreams truly are from God, because that is eventually what happens! But, we get this picture of Joseph kind of throwing everything out there like it’s all about him! This is where things get threatening. Not because of what God said, not because God has a plan, but because he uses it to glorify Himself.
We can easily get the attitude that God’s plan makes you more important or significant than another. That’s threatening. We run around quoting Jeremiah to ourselves, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV) forgetting that when Jeremiah said that, it was to encourage Israel as God was sending them into exile in Babylon.
When Jeremiah was prophesying to Israel he was a prophet with bad news! He was telling them that they were going to be exiled from their land for 70 years! And the point was so that they would return to God and “call upon Him and come and pray to Him” so that they would “seek Him with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13, ESV) Only then, when it was all about God, would they know His blessing again, which is the “plan and purpose” part. The trouble is when we have a dream, we think it’s all about us…
Fast forward to the end of Joseph’s story... His brothers sell him into slavery, he ends up thrown in jail because his master's wife sets him up, finally he gets the opportunity of a lifetime to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and God answers his prayer. Joseph ends up running Egypt and consolidating all the political power in the area under Pharaoh. After all that is when Joseph’s dream comes true. That’s when his brothers end up on their knees in front of him looking for food. But this is a very different Joseph. This Joseph has been through exile, he’s changed, now instead of being all about himself and thinking he’s special because he’s got a dream, he’s all about God.
Joseph had every reason to rub it in their faces! Like, “Look at me guys! Now who’s laughing! I’m in charge of the known world and you’re hungry, Ha!” Instead of gloating to his brothers when they’re on their knees and his dream’s come true he says, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19-21, ESV)
Joseph’s dream wasn’t about him. Joseph’s dream was about God’s plan for the good of God’s people. But it took years for Joseph to get his head wrapped around that. It took slavery, prison, and years alone in an Egyptian world before Joseph realized it just wasn’t about him. For the good plan God had for Israel, in Jeremiah, it took 70 years, and the exile, slavery, prison time was all so that Israel and Joseph could figure out that it wasn’t about them.
Do you have a dream? It’s not about you! How long will it take for you to really know that? The Christian life is never about us, it’s always for God’s glory. He will use us, for His glory, for the good of His people. Do you want to be something special? Take the posture of a servant, take the place of the least, of a slave, then your dreams will really mean something. (Matthew 20:26-28) Because if it’s all about you and how God’s going to make you great, then it’s just irritating and threatening to those close to you.