My life was once put on hold for three years; at least, that’s what it felt like at the time. Jeff and I had just moved back from Mumbai, India—our home for almost two years—to Jersey City, NJ, our base for Jeff’s job in Manhattan. I was looking forward to picking up my career again since the kids were now out of the house, and Indian visa restrictions were no longer an issue for me. There was only one small problem. I sensed that God was telling me, “No,” as in, “No, I don’t want you resuming your career.” All I could think was, “Wait…what?”

Oh, don’t get me wrong; I never heard an audible voice bellowing, “Thou shalt not go back to work.” Rather, the discomfort I felt in my stomach each time I thought about resuming my business communicated God’s message to me as clearly as he spoke to Moses through the burning bush. His “No” could no more be ignored than the loud gurgling of one’s G.I. tract can when you’ve eaten bad chicken. You may try to pretend you’re fine for a while, but sooner or later, the gurgles force you to make a run for the toilet. In my case, the gurgles annoyingly demanded that I stay put. “Why, God? Why?”

Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad if God had communicated to me what the plan B was. Surely, he had more for me to do than keep track of the comings and goings of my neighbors (even if that was a job that I did with excellence.) Still, day after day, week after week, I never heard another peep from God about what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Sheesh! If I wasn’t going to work, what was the plan? Hello? God? I began to wonder if He was even listening to me.

The deafening silence eventually tipped me off that I likely had entered into a season of “waiting on the Lord.” I had no idea what that entailed, but I knew that just sitting around as I waited would have pushed me over the edge. I mean, apart from watching the morning school runs and the comings and goings of the work crowd, there wasn’t much happening in the neighborhood to keep me occupied. I ultimately had no choice but to get busy with whatever I saw in front of me. Suffice it to say that those three years were some of the most fruitful in my life. Who knew that a season of waiting could produce fruit that continues to grow?

So, why am I telling you this? If you read my post last week, you’ll remember that I encouraged you to reflect back on your 2023 with a lens of eternity, not just with a goal-colored lens. Achieving (or not achieving) your goals will only give you a partial picture of what actually happened this year. That is why I highly recommend you spend time with God to get His input on your year. Seeing God’s perspective on those years of waiting in Jersey City allowed me to recognize that, besides the painful but invaluable process of being pruned by him, I was building priceless treasure in heaven. If I ignored what I sensed God was telling me and chose my career over waiting, I would have missed out on seeing countless lives transformed by the work of my hands and the power of God’s Spirit. (My neighbors would have also missed out on having the best neighborhood watch ever.😜)

While I highly encourage you to look back before you look ahead to 2024, I also want to leave you with a few things to consider as you plan for the new year. As I wrote last week, there is nothing wrong with setting goals and having a plan to help you achieve them. Having goals without a plan is like having a boat without a rudder: You may cover a lot of territory but will likely fail to end up at your intended destination. So do set some goals and absolutely think through what it’s going to take to achieve them.

However, before you begin that process, I encourage you to spend time dreaming with God first. I believe God cares more about your dreams than your goals. Dreams are birthed from your heart, while goals are created in your head. It’s possible to set goals without God’s input, but impossible to dream without him. For this reason, I encourage you to dream before you set goals.

In his book Dream, author Dutch Sheets wrote:

“Your Designer dreamed dreams for you before you were even born, then skillfully wove them into your DNA as you were created, along with the ability to find and fulfill them. His destiny for you will be the sum of those dreams. The journey of life, then, is meant to be a dream quest; finding what your Maker has dreamed for you brings life’s ultimate satisfaction and should be life’s ultimate pursuit.”

Remember, God knows you better than you know yourself, so if you seek His thoughts and His will before you set your goals, you may end up in a very different place than you thought. Trust me. That is a good thing—even if it entails having an identity crisis along the way🙄.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

What might it look like to dream with God? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create some space in your day, and gather a few supplies. Some things you may want include a journal, pen, paper, and colored markers or crayons. Dreaming requires that you tap into your imagination, so do whatever you can to inspire a creative flow of thought.
  • Spend some time in worship and prayer to settle your heart and mind on God. Here are a few songs you may want to listen to: God of WondersHoly ForeverSo Will I
  • Suggested prayer: “Father, you created me with a plan and a purpose. You have put dreams and desires into my heart, many of which I have failed to recognize. I trust that you know me better than I know myself. Guide me as I seek you in this new year. I invite you to come by your Spirit to speak into my heart now. I choose to open my mind to receive what you are saying. Help me to hear and see all that you want me to. ”
  • In whatever way feels right to you, create categories that you want to hear input from God. Some suggestions include health, marriage, parenting, community, friendships, job, ministry, and finances. Write down whatever you see, sense, or hear in each of those categories without filtering what you hear. God’s ideas often feel too big, too impossible, or just plain ridiculous to pay attention to. (For example, the prompting to NOT work in a career that I loved seemed crazy at the time. However, God knew the bigger plan he had for me.) If you don’t get anything for a category, just skip it; you don’t need to force anything. There isn’t a right or wrong way to dream!😃
  • Once you are finished, thank God for whatever you heard, and then put your paper away. Let the ideas, thoughts, and dreams percolate for a few days. Jot down any thoughts or ideas that emerge over that time. Next week, we’ll discuss the next steps.

I’d love for you to comment on what it was like for you to look back on your year with God’s help. What did you see that you didn’t before? What is your reaction to the idea of dreaming with God? 👇🏻

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