My mind races ahead. It all too often does. I get ahead of myself. At times, I don’t notice this as I am preoccupied with thoughts of work, personal matters and things I would like to get done. Subconsciously, multiple scenarios play themselves out (as if watching multiple televisions screens at the same time), diverting my full attention from loved ones, stealing precious time and sapping energy.
I tend to fall into this trap when I drift along in my personal relationship with Jesus and then tend to operate mostly on my own strength. This can be a subtle process where the shift in our relationship takes place over a matter of weeks or months – less of Him and more of me! I smile, not because of sudden joyful feelings (reminder to self – laugh more!) but because I see the irony as I write this. I have fallen into this trap over the past few months where I have spent many a late night pushing hard to further develop my photography interests (a hobby which I really enjoy) and spending time attending to family business matters. Add a fantastic South African summer holiday break over Christmas and New Year to the mix, considerable time spent with a recent corporate restructuring at work, together with ongoing investigations into potential Russia based private equity transactions, the audit process relating to a listed investment company and the result has been much less of Him.
This serves as a remember to first seek the Kingdom of God, as Matthew writes in Matthew 6: 31-34 “… So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today…”
John also makes it clear that we have to abide in Christ and then may ask for whatever we wish and it will be given to us “… I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15: 5-8 (New International Version).
This made me think of God’s promises and dreams He has for us. Bill Johnston in a sermon Treasure and Ponder talked about God’s promises. He emphasized the importance of how we should not only treasure, but then ponder on these promises. I realize that I have done little treasuring and almost no pondering on His promises for me of late as my mind was filled and preoccupied with the things I have mentioned above. I realise that there is a danger if we ponder on promises without first staying in close relationship with Him, as we may then be tempted to manufacture the fulfillment of a promise in our own strenght – it is about the relationship in the first instance and then about the promise.
As we know, some promises come about quickly and others can take much longer, even decades to be fulfilled. For Bill Johnston it is difficult to imagine a life without being possessed by these promises in your heart so that they become part of his prayer life, his thought life and his song and that God’s promises run all though him and are immensely treasured (to hold close) – they are guarded in his heart because he knows they keep him sane and connected to his future (now there is some food for thought). He does not want to wonder off the course God has laid out for him and said “… Something happens when you mull over something that God has said. I don’t understand it, I just know it does something to me, it makes me different. It makes me different when I chew on what God has said. Even though I cannot see how it is going to come about, even if I cannot see a time line when it is going to come about …”
He emphasized that we have to hold God’s promises close until they impact us from the inside out. When I consider what he is saying this a profound statement as it implies that we have to be aware of the promises first (i.e. make the time to listen and hear what God has in mind for you – I guess God passes on his promises to each of us in a different way) and to really take time to ponder about it. In the sermon he mentioned that one of the bigger difficulties in life for us is when we have a promise from God we have found and where we then try to hold God hostage to the promise at a time when the promise has not yet become us – it has just become knowledge. What I took from this sermon is to take the things God has said about my life and ponder about and then expect that something will happen and that in this process it will also change who I am on the inside.
When I think about God’s promises, I am reminded that they could be received through dreams. If you have time, try to listen to a new song of Counting Crowns, Dream for You. It is about God’s dreams for you.
“… Hey, David, I hear you’ve been dreaming
About being a big time shepherd someday
You’re gonna prove your brothers wrong
You’re gonna sing your shepherd song
To the cattle on a thousand hills
But I’ve been thinking
I’m having trouble with a giant down the road
You’re the one who’s going to face him toe to toe
Wipe that grin right off his face
And whip this army into shape
I’m going to turn the nation back to Me
And David, you’re right about one thing
Your little shepherd songs are going to make the whole world sing
And I’m gonna make you king
Then next verse excites me as it shows where the emphasis should be –on His dreams for me, not those thoughts or matters I concern myself with from time to time.
So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you …
I’m stronger than you think I am
I’ll take you farther than you think you can
You sing and call me Great I Am
So take your stand
My child, if you only knew
All the plans that I have for you
Just trust me, I will follow through
You can follow Me…”
Casting Crowns – Verse from song “Dream for you”; Album “Thrive”, 2014
Is it not exciting to know that He has dreams for all of us – we need to trust and God will follow through!