Have you ever wondered why God created us with the need to sleep? I mean, when you step back and really look at it, sleeping is kind of a weird process.
Every fifteen hours or so, we feel strangely compelled to crawl into some dark hovel, cover ourselves with blankets, and fade off into unconsciousness. Then, eight hours later (if we’re lucky!), we just mysteriously “come out of it” and go back to the business of life. Why do you suppose God created us with such a quirky limitation?
I’ve always held to the belief that God never does anything without a reason – and I think his choice to give us the need to sleep is no different. In sleep, we rest, thus providing a daily reminder of our limitations as human beings, and of our need to regularly step away from the work He calls us to and simply “be” in a state of rest.
But also, I think it’s important to note that it’s only in such times of rest that we dream. In fact, multiple studies have shown that when people are deprived of sleep, and thus kept from dreaming, they will eventually go mad from the strain of it. Before long, they’ll actually begin dreaming while they are still awake, and lose the capacity to discern the difference between their dream and reality.
Dreaming is essential to life. I don’t just mean the sort of dreaming we do while we sleep, but the big kind, the kind of deep-in-the-heart dreaming that shapes who we are and who we are becoming. As Bruce Wilkinson wrote in his bestselling book The Dream Giver, “…every Nobody was made to be a Somebody. And the key to discovering all you are meant to do and be is to wake up to the Big Dream God has given you and set out on a journey to achieve it.”
Because dreaming is so critical to life, it’s where I begin my coaching work with all of my clients. And I have to tell you, it’s very fun work! There is a God-inspired joy that comes from really digging into the core of who God created you to be and uncovering the wondrous dreams that God implanted there for your life and calling. But eventually, when all the major dreams have been exposed and explored, there comes the season when it’s time to act …to literally wake up from your time of rest and reflection and make your dreams “real” in the world. And that’s the place where so many people get stuck in fear.
You have a big deep-in-the-heart dream, given to you by God. In fact, you probably have several, and each one of them carries the potential to impact the world in a way that brings abundant glory to God and abundant joy to your own life.
But if you’re like most people, you’ve either sequestered those dreams in the back of your heart because they are so utterly impractical (this is what you tell yourself to justify your choice), or else you struggle with them constantly, but never quite go so far as to actually do anything about them. So just how do you take a deep, powerful dream and make it real? Here are a few critical steps you need to take:
- Wake up! Dreaming is wonderful, but it can also be a means to avoid facing the frightening real world out there. Seasons of dreaming are essential, but in order to make those dreams real, you have to wake up and embrace a new season of “making it real.” It doesn’t mean you don’t dream anymore – just that your primary focus is on taking action in the real world.
- Accept that you are afraid, and don’t let it stop you from acting. Fear is not a sign that you should stop. Rather, it’s a perfectly normal and expected reaction to venturing out beyond your known experience. You are forging a new path for yourself in the world; that’s supposed to be scary. But don’t let it stop you from going.
- Instead of surrendering to your fear, consciously surrender yourself to God and His Big Dream for you, which He planted in your heart. His call on your life is bigger than you are – and as you surrender to it you’ll find that the calling has an inertia of its own (called Grace) that is able to carry your forward.
- Expect a lot of resistance. This may come from family, from circumstances, from your past, from the enemy, from just about anywhere. But it will come – regularly and often. So rather than get in a huff about the injustice of it all (which will inevitably stop you from moving forward), just accept that experiencing resistance is a part of the process of making dreams real, and focus your energy on finding ways to circumvent or overcome it.
- Finally, create “real world” goals for yourself that set you up for success. I recommend using this variation of the S.M.A.R.T. method of setting goals – which is to make all your goals:
- Specific – Write out exactly what you want to achieve in detail.
- Measurable – Write out specific criteria for how you will know when you have achieved the goal.
- Accountable – Announce your goal to one or more people and enlist them to help you reach it.
- Realistic – Do the research necessary to know whether your goal is realistic.
- Time-Specific – Set a definitive deadline for the achievement of your goal.
Making your dreams a reality is hard work. It takes commitment, tenacity, lots of faith, and an ever-increasing capacity to surrender yourself to God and His will. But even though it is hard, it isn’t too much for you. In fact, it is the very work that God created you to accomplish. So wake up, my friend! The season of dreaming is over. It’s time to make it real.
Michael D. Warden is a Professional Co-Active Coach, nationally certified through the Coaches Training Institute, and a member of the International Coach Federation. Michael’s clients’ one common trait is their passion to live a bigger life – to discover what they're here for, and boldly go after that vision with confidence and authenticity. Find more on his life and work at www.michaelwarden.com.