Living in Chicago is, as Charles Dickens says in the Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
It is the best of times (at least for Christians) because there’s a dark political, moral, and corrupt cloud hovering begging for light (Matthew 5:13-14). It is the worst of times because we’re witnessing some activists, politicians, glory-seekers, and even preachers/pastors clamoring for the spotlight to build their platform. It’s sickening.
Watching this tragic drama unfold reminds me of Tony Gaskins’ quote:
If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.
According to this quote, if don’t wake up and begin pursuing your dreams, someone will recognize your abilities and recruit you to help build theirs. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong, improper, or illegal about helping others fulfill their dreams, remember God has something He wants you to accomplish that only you can accomplish.
However, it’s possible to work on both at the same time. Everyone has the same thing in common: 24 hours in a day. Since time is passing, why wouldn’t you be working, at least, part-time, on your dreams.
What motivates you? What causes you to pace the floor at night? What makes you, in your Popeye The Sailor voice say, “That’s all I can takes, and I can’t takes no more?” Once you discover it, that’s your burden, and every dream begins with a burden and that’s how Nehemiah’s Dream began.
Though the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down for 141 years, God placed a dream in the heart of a leader named Nehemiah, the cup-bearer to the King, who lived far away. After prayer and planning, Nehemiah petitioned the king for permission to rebuild the wall. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest Nehemiah’s thinking: Here I am helping the king build his dream, so I might as well build something for my people.
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 1:1-3 ESV
A dream is what could be. A vision is what should be. It comes with a sense of compelling. “I’ve got to do something.” IDEA VS. VISION. Not what can we do, but what must we do. Where are you frustrated? Frustration can be a sign of God working in you. At this moment, you’d expect to read about Nehemiah’s vision but instead, Nehemiah waited.
4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Four months passes between vision stage and Chapter 2 when he asks the King for permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. I have a hard time waiting four hours when I get a good idea…much less four months.
A pause is a good thing. Vision does not always require immediate action. When Nehemiah arrives, he surveys the broken walls for three days before saying anything to the people. Waiting keeps vision from becoming an idol. We can worship the god of vision. Be willing to leave the vision if accomplishing it will cost your integrity. Real vision lasts. God has to work. In addition to waiting, Nehemiah prayed.
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? Nehemiah 2:1-3
When asked about the reason for his sadness, Nehemiah prayed again. He prayed for favor (Nehemiah 1:11). Later on, we find out that the wall was built in 52 days, but Nehemiah spent, at least, four months praying. Our success depends on more than leadership ability and ministry strategies. In addition to Nehemiah waiting and prayer, he also planned.
4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. Nehemiah 2:4-8
He went ahead and developed a plan, not knowing if he would ever be able to execute it. The king asks him what he wants, and he’s got his answer ready to go. He knows how long it will take and what supplies he needs. I have a document on my computer called “What We Would Do if Someone Gave us $1 Million.” Be ready for when God speaks. Waiting, praying and planning play a significant role in the birth of this vision.
Are you convinced to begin working on your dream?
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