I had a very nice letter from a student who is overseas studying for a degree and is delighted to be fulfilling a childhood dream. But she wonders if wanting something badly enough that you risk your heart being broken is worth the dreaming in the first place. This is my response:

Dear Student:

When I was young I had a dream. Oddly enough, for one so young, my dream was about getting married. The woman I married would be my equal in every way: equal in determination, equal in vision, equal in ability, equal in intelligence, equal in compassion. We would raise our children to see the world without race or gender barriers. We would understand that character was more important than wealth, and we would provide a launching pad for our children to explore the world and find happiness in it. Every woman I met I compared against this dream. I would not settle for anything less than that, but neither would I fail to investigate every possibility. I waited 15 years until I met the woman who came the closest to all I had envisioned. I pursued her for a year until she agreed to marry me. We raised three children who are all that we envisioned they would be.

Once we married and had three children, I became captured by another dream. This dream was to go for the Lord to those who were not as fortunate as we were in the West and to see if the Lord would have us serve him there. In 1986 we went to Bangladesh, and served the Lord for year. But He reminded me that my previous dream was as yet unfulfilled, and asked me to postpone this new dream until it was complete. When we returned we conceived another dream that would unite the dreams we had for our children with the dreams we had to serve the Lord. We would see our children through their education until they were safely launched on their lives, and then we would go back to Asia. We nurtured that dream for 20 years, taking short and longer missionary assignments to keep the dream alive. In 2007 when the last of our children had graduated, we came to Malaysia to serve the Lord here.

Now I have another dream: to complete both my Master’s and Doctorate and serve the Lord through development, both in teaching and in directing development projects. Like all dreams, this will change as it takes on reality, but I have no doubt that it is God who has given me this dream – just as He gave me the previous dreams – so that He could bring about His work in me. In short, my dear, dreams – good dreams – are from God. We should not be surprised at this as He says in His word “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not for harm, to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Do not be afraid to dream godly dreams. My whole life has been the fulfillment of the dreams that the Lord gave to me. Have a Blessed Christmas!

To all who dream, I give the same advice. But I would also add this caveat: Dreams may motivate and empower to you to achieve more than you thought you could, but dreams require hard work and dedication. Christ had a ‘dream,’ if you will forgive the metaphor. His dream was to liberate all those who are oppressed by the evil in this world and make a way for them to enter into the presence of an unutterably holy God in an eternity of happiness. For this reason He entered the world some two thousand years ago. Look at the cost He paid to make this ‘dream’ come true. This was no idle, pleasant fantasy; He literally had to sweat blood to make it a reality. Reckon on the cost of your dreams before you make them the focus of your life. Then submit them to God, for He is the Author of all godly dreams.