The Problem with Dreaming

Erik Cooper —  February 17, 2010 — 10 Comments

I love to see people dream.  To use their imagination.  To create things that don’t yet exist.  To watch someone rise to their passion and purpose is exhilarating, and to play even a small role in releasing that potential is intoxicating.

But what if I’m drawing that stream out of a polluted well?

One of the dangers I personally face as a spiritual leader is creating and communicating via isogesis. Now there’s a fun theological word.  Isogesis refers to starting with a specific belief, and then searching (typically Scripture) for evidence to support my already pre-determined supposition.

This can be a dangerous way to approach God because it starts with me and then makes a vain attempt to bring Him into the equation.

A lot of us dream that way, too.  And as you can see from this passage of Scripture, I can be a dangerous origin.

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:1-3 NLT)

I’m messed up. And while the things that naturally reside inside of me are undoubtedly part of my God-design, they’re also polluted with misguided motivation and selfish agendas.  With sin.  My dreams need redemption right along with the rest of me.

Jesus calls us to repentance, to realignment with Him. And not just as a one-time event, but a daily surrender.  Then my imagination begins to emerge from a healthy well.  My dreams naturally become sourced by God and I stop desperately seeking a “blessing” for things that originated with me.

So what about you?  Do you dreams emerge from The Source, or are you “isogeting?” Starting with you and desperately hoping God will come along for the ride?

Tough one for me.  But that’s the problem with dreaming.

10 responses to The Problem with Dreaming

  1. Great article!!! Thats why its important to let God lead us and he’ll bring it to us..

  2. This really speaks to my heart especially with the first statement – i’m an entrepeneur and love seeing people fulfill their dreams- but struggle with encouraging some dreams both for myself and with friends and family – I think political correctness really has damaged our ability to seek and speak with the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Well then……………………where does free will come in at here? What did He give it to us for, if we’re not supposed to use it to dream and etc.? Or did He ever really give it to us? Was our free will a part of His original design? Just wondering………….

    • You can’t have love without free will. You can’t willfully submit without the ability to choose your own way. Willful, not forced, submission is at the core of God’s plan for repentace and redemption through Christ. I never said God didn’t want you to dream (in fact, quite the contrary). He just wants you to allow Him to be at the origin.

      But He won’t make you. You can go it on your own if you prefer.

  4. I understand what you “never said.” But it sounds like what you DID say is two different things. It sounds like on the one hand, you’re saying that it is ok for our dreams to originate from our free will as long as they are later filtered via submission to God. On the other hand, it sounds as though you’re saying that our dreams need to “originate” with/from/at God. If the latter is true, then how can the former co-exist? Or, perhaps I’m just hearing wrong or misinterpreting something here, and I’m quite okay with that too 🙂

    • Dreams & desires will originate with you. It’s part of the way God made you. Nothing wrong with that. But redemption of those dreams, like every other aspect of our sinful nature, is imperative. When our dreams are submitted to Christ, He in essence becomes their originator. Our desires melt into His.

      There’s a saying: “get as close as you can to the heart of God, and then do what you want.”

  5. Reminds me of a C.S. Lews quote:

    “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way”.

    I have trouble with this, mainly because I continually feel like I don’t spend enough time getting to know God and his character, and so I usually assume that what I’m dreaming is probably NOT from God. So, when I’m doing something I enjoy that doesn’t directly involve telling people about Jesus and helping widows and orphans, I feel guilty that I’m missing God’s best for my life. Learning how to do everything “to the glory of God” seems like a foggy, mystical skill, and sometimes feels like a cop-out when I’m watching football on TV or eating chicken wings. Hard to navigate…

  6. Excellent point, Erik. Our dreams need to be redeemed along with the rest of us. Too often I’m afraid we (ok, “I”) pray, “I got it all figured out, Lord; now just sign here at the bottom and make it work!” Eeehhh, wrong answer!

    On a practical note, what I try to do is submit those dreams to the Lord, literally verbalizing them and giving them back to Him to either take away or reinforce. It’s amazing the things I eventually just forget about. The ones that keep coming back – from Him – are the one to pursue.

  7. I always enjoy your blog Erik. What is the real deep down motivation to be a Christian? Does that agenda line up with a pure and holy God?

    Being a fallen man, yet redeemed by Christ, I must keep a diligent guard on my “secret heart motives” …to fool oneself is the greatest tragedy imaginable.

    You have a gift to bring out God’s truths and make us examine our souls. We should all go through these times of self examinations to keep our motives and dreams in line with God. Everyone needs a “Holy Spirit inspired course adjustment” … more often than we would admit.

  8. Got cha. 🙂

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