Dreams can be a fickle thing. They can feel far out of reach and yet sometimes within grasp. Dreams sometimes become reality and often not. Sometimes our dreams are too small and sometimes they are too big.
We serve a God who spoke the world into being; a God whose limitless imagination made everything out of nothing. As Jesus-followers, Jesus calls us to imagine with Him, asking us to dream a God-dream for our lives. Every one of our stories can be vibrant, life-giving, and wholly unique.
There was a man named Joseph in the Bible, in Genesis specifically. His story begins with two dreams, but it doesn’t end there. It’s the time in between the dreams he dreamt and the fulfillment of his dreams that make Joseph’s story so amazing. His story can be divided up into three distinct seasons of dreaming.
Joseph was his father’s favorite. Jacob had eleven other sons and Joseph was born to him in his old age. This led to jealousy and rage from Joseph’s older siblings. It didn’t help that Jacob gave Joseph a multi-colored robe, something he didn’t give any other son.
Joseph’s dreams put him at odds with his family. He had dreamt that his parents and siblings would bow down to him and that he would rule over them. Joseph was completely naive in telling everyone his dreams, even when they weren’t ready for it. Joseph’s dreams were a threat to his brothers, but they didn’t realize that God would use it one day to be their salvation.
When God tells you something about your future, be careful who you tell it to.
Joseph’s brothers’ jealousy and rage got the best of them. It led them on a path of anger, hate, and rage. They began by plotting murder, but settled for less when their oldest brother stopped them. They threw him into a pit and then sold him off to slave traders who were on their way to Egypt. The brothers then lied to Jacob, saying that Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
Joseph received a glimpse of his future, but had no clue what the journey ahead would be like. He had no idea that the jealousy and rage of his brothers would lead them to an unthinkable act of hate. He lost his status as the favored son of a wealthy father, and now had become a slave with an uncertain future.
Joseph began a new season of hiddenness. He was alone and isolated, far from home, and entirely unsure of what lay ahead. Do not for one second, believe that God’s favor on your life will lead to easy or opposition-free living. Sometimes God leads us into suffering and loss to make us more like Jesus. It’s all a part of God’s plan for your life.
Joseph was sold as a slave into Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard and saw what a hard worker Joseph was. Joseph was trustworthy and blameless in everything he did. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his home, and Joseph quickly found success in all he did.
Joseph resisted temptation and paid dearly for it. Potiphar’s wife had eyes on Joseph and tried to get him to commit adultery with her. Joseph however recognized that doing something like that would have completely destroyed his life. When she grabs a hold of Joseph, he leaves his overcoat in her arms and she claims Joseph attempted to rape her. Joseph is imprisoned as a result. This was the second time Joseph lost a place of prominence and favor because of a coat.
It was God was telling Joseph, “Don’t get too comfortable in this coat, I’ve got something better coming.”
Joseph quickly moved up the ranks while in prison. The prison warden saw Joseph’s work ethic, humility and leadership. Joseph was put in charge and trusted to run the entire prison. We once again see Joseph’s ability to lead and rule come alive. God wants to develop your gifting in seasons of hiddenness. He does this by asking you to stay faithful, allowing Him to adjust your heart, growing in your character.
Joseph interpreted two dreams for two fellow political prisoners, the chief cup-bearer and chief baker. For the chief cup-bearer, the fulfillment of his dream was complete restoration of his place in Pharaoh’s court. For the chief baker, the fulfillment of his dream was imminent death. It is fascinating that God used Joseph to interpret dreams and see it’s fulfillment, while Joseph has not seen his own dreams fulfilled. God will use you to bring clarity to someone else’s dream, even when you don’t have clarity for your own dream.
God concealed Joseph’s dream through his negative circumstances, because God was preparing Joseph’s life to handle the dream. While the chief cup-bearer was restored, he completely forgot about Joseph. God is preparing you for something greater and better; but it’s all on His timeline, not yours. Allow God to form deep-rooted character in you during your seasons of hiddenness; it only ever prepares you for the platform He puts you on.
Two years later when Pharaoh had two sobering dreams, the cup-bearer finally remembered Joseph. Pharaoh’s magicians and fortune-tellers had no idea of what to think or say. While everyone was confused, the cup-bearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Joseph was immediately brought up from the prison to Pharaoh’s palace.
Joseph heard Pharaoh’s dream and interpreted them. God gave Joseph the wisdom and authority to correctly interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph revealed to Pharaoh that seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine. He implored Pharaoh to plan accordingly and put someone in authority to administrate the next fourteen years. This wasn’t the first time Joseph interpreted a dream. The last time he did, no one noticed; this time everyone noticed.
If you’re faithful to God when no one notices, you’ll be faithful to God when everyone notices.
Joseph was set in as the prime-minister of Egypt, second-in-command to Pharaoh. Pharaoh couldn’t find anyone better than Joseph. From prison to the palace, Joseph did it all in one day. He was married into a prestigious family, put in charge of the royal court, and everyone in the land was to take orders from Joseph. He was given Pharaoh’s signet ring, given a gold chain, dressed in fine linen, and given a chariot to ride in. Every prior place of blessing in his life had given him a taste of favor, ruling, and leadership, but they were merely preparation for what God had in store. He was stepping into a place of authority and leadership that God had for him.
During the time of famine, Joseph finally met his brothers again. Time had flown by. The dreams of his youth from decades before were finally fulfilled. But everything changed in a moment. It so happened Jacob heard that Egypt had stored up food to survive the famine. Upon hearing this, he sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph’s brothers traveled down to Egypt and came face to face with Joseph. In that moment, before the prime minister of Egypt, they bowed low to the ground. They did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph instantly recognized them. Unsure of their motives, he decided to test them. Joseph now had the power to imprison, intimidate, hurt, or murder his brothers. After all the years of pain, loneliness and suffering they caused him, he had every right to do whatever he wanted to them. But somehow he didn’t. He put them through various difficult situations, and he discovered they had changed.
Realizing his brothers changed, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and forgave them for what they did to him. He ended up saving that entire region and his family. What his brothers intended for harm, God turned around and used to bring salvation to many people. Joseph finally saw the fulfillment of the dream God gave decades before.
Joseph’s life was driven by his dream. He never forgot that his life was set apart, he was a servant of God, and that God had a plan for his life. He didn’t let the worst of life turn his heart hard or make him bitter. Instead Joseph forgave, stayed faithful, worked hard, and remained humble. Because God could trust Joseph in those quiet, hidden, lonely moments, God knew he could trust Joseph in the public places of authority, favor, and ruling.
In the life of Joseph, God reveals the dream, God conceals the dream, and finally God fulfills the dream.
God simply asks you to be faithful with what’s in front of you, to not not be bitter when someone hurts you, to not cower in fear or intimidation, to remain humble and righteous even when the world accuses you of something you never did, to work so hard that everyone around you can’t help but notice your passion and energy, to be so in tune with God that you hear his voice and listen to Him…
Somewhere along the way God will fulfill the dreams He places in your heart, and He’ll do it in the most imaginative and creative ways. You’ll be surprised along the way and blessed beyond what you could have ever dreamt for yourself.
“The distance between obscurity and your destiny, is the difference between pride and humility.”
God wants us to DREAM BIGGER and persevere our way into God’s amazing future for our lives!