This morning I pulled out my bible and read a few of my favorite verses and thought of you, my dear reader. Some of you come here for updates on my life, but I imagine more come because you are fellow big dreamers, seeking the life beyond comfortable, beyond normal. These words are for you.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (The Message)
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
As I reflected on these verses I was encouraged. Even though I’ve read them many times before, they held new life, as only the living, active word of God can. They contain a secret – a guide to see your BIG DREAMS start to come true.
First of all its important to know these words were written by Paul while he was in prison. Though he was going through the worst time in his life, he was able to see the good, the truth, the life and encouraged other believers to do the same. Here are some of the steps he outlined to the church that may help you as you dream into the new year.
1. Hit the Gym
No, no, no. This is not another physical fitness challeng to eat healthier, work out harder and attain your target weight. This is about an inner strength. It’s a strength which doesn’t come from your efforts but from the Holy Spirit. It’s strength where it really matters, deep down in your soul and spirit. It’s a strength that is founded on who God says he is and who he has shown himself to be through the person of Christ. It’s a strength that comes from a daily denying of the flesh and surrendering to the Spirit. This is the kind of strength that can get you through all of the challenges you will face in 2011. Take a moment and ask God for this glorious inner strength which only he can give. No ordinary workout can prepare you for what’s to come.
2. Find a New Romance
Let me clarify. This step isn’t about finding a new boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s not about turning up the heat in your marriage (though there’s nothing wrong with that!) It’s about a new level of intimacy with Jesus. Paul prays that we as believers would be firmly planted on love. He challenges us to experience God’s love in deeper, higher, longer, wider ways – to not settle for where we’re at now, but to reach out for more. Jesus longs to show his love to you if you’ll only give him the chance. But it won’t happen without an effort on your part. Paul says we should reach out, test it, plumb the depths, rise to the heights. None of these words make it sound like we get to sit there and all of a sudden be overwhelmed with emotion and know Jesus in a new way. It’s an active pursuing of His presence which brings new romance into our relationship with God.
3. Dream Big
Today I hear God saying to you “why have you stopped dreaming?” When is the last time you really let your heart imagine all that is possible for your life? What happened to stop you from believing he could to so much more than all you’ve ever asked or imagined? When did you start doubting his goodness? My heart is heavy knowing so many have given up their dreams and for good reason. And even more can barely dare to dream because their hearts are heavy, broken and scarred in 2010. My hope is God will renew your dreams. He will give you the courage to believe for more. It won’t happen overnight. In fact it won’t even be visible at first. But as Paul writes, it will happen through the work of his Spirit, deeply and gently within you.
As you near the midway point in 2013, ask God to strengthen your inner person for all of the challenges yet to come this year. I pray you’ll pursue God’s heart for you and experience his love in a new and intimate way. And as you know him more, I believe you will trust him anew, and allow those buried dreams to blossom again.