What should we do during seasons of discipline and delay? Four simple things:
1. Wait for the Power
You are going to need the full power of your dream to work for you, not some watered-down, premature version. Jesus made his followers wait until they received power from on high. That’s a promise for us, not just them. You will receive supernatural power for the task ahead if you don’t try to rush God’s timing.
I’m convinced that much of the dream-centered life is simply saying, Okay, God. It doesn’t make sense to me. All of culture is going the other direction. But I’m going to do exactly what you say. That posture of patience and obedience is much more powerful than our own efforts.
2. Remember the Voice of God
Psalm 34:3 encourages us to “magnify the Lord.” Does that mean make him bigger? No, but it means we make him bigger in our own lives. By doing this we make God’s voice bigger than the voices of doubt in our own situation.
Imagine the dream busters who rose up against Noah and the pressure he got from his own family. I picture his three sons coming home from school saying, “Dad, why can’t you have a normal job like everyone else? People are talking about the battleship in our front yard.”
The only way to endure voices of doubt for decades is to constantly remember the voice of God, to make it bigger and louder in your heart. As foolish as it may feel at times, reconnect with what he said about your dream. Do it with childlike confidence. Let God’s voice be a shout and all else be a whisper.
3. Refuse to Believe What You See
This is especially personal for me. One of the great challenges in my life is to avoid the temptation of paying too much attention to what looks good and impressive on the outside and not enough attention to what is hidden on the inside. For example, as a pastor, I have a very public job each week to share a message from the platform. I want that message to change lives, to powerfully influence people in positive directions, to inspire and edify my listeners. But the truth is, I can see only a small percentage of the results my message produces in them. They may applaud or thank me afterward, but I cannot see what has happened on the inside. Maybe they will get in the car and forget everything I said by the time they get home.
Every week I force myself to refuse to believe only what I see, good or bad. If my message seems to be a flop, I have to believe that God can make it powerful by using something I said in his own way. If a message gets a great response, I have to tell myself that outward displays of appreciation can be deceptive and addictive. I have to trust that by being faithful in study, preparation, and listening to God, the message will do its work out of sight. I may never see the results. But I press onward, believing in what I cannot see.
In the same way, your dream is developing even when you can’t see it. It is maturing under the surface.
4. Lock In and Refuse to Quit
I am convinced that the middle of the dream determines whether or not we end successfully. How we behave in those delays determines our ultimate outcome. It’s like those middle rounds of a boxing match that can seem tedious to the audience. That’s where boxers score points or even land a surprise knockout. God works on us during the delay, and one thing he’s putting into us is persistence, determination, and endurance.
Let me give you three A’s that help me lock in to the dream-centered life even when it doesn’t feel so dreamy.
Affiliation—There are actually times when a dream can seem embarrassing to us because it is delayed. It surely happened to Noah, Abraham, David, and every other Bible hero. One of the tests of waiting is whether or not we will continue to affiliate with our dream. Will we talk about it? Own it? Declare our belief in it? That can be hard to do when people are doubting, but taking a stand for a dream is more powerful when it seems unlikely than at any other time. Affiliate with your dream, even when it doesn’t make you look good in the eyes of others.
Alignment—This means walking with someone in the same direction at the same pace. God’s speed for fulfilling your dream is the right one. If you’re falling behind or rushing ahead, it’s not going to work. If you try to peel off and take a shortcut, that won’t work either. Don’t just affiliate with the dream; align yourself with God’s timing and direction. Affiliation and alignment often don’t make sense, but that’s part of the journey.
Agreement—This simply means you are convinced that God’s dream and his process are the best way for your life. Agreement with God is especially powerful in times of waiting and discouragement. It honors him when we affirm his path. Having watched so many dreams come to pass, I know what the end of the delay looks like. You will come to a place where you see that bend in the road as your best friend. You will thank yourself for affiliating, aligning, and agreeing with God during the disruptions, delays, and discipline.
The good news is a difficult season won’t last forever.
Luke Barnett is the pastor of the megachurch Dream City Church that has multiple campuses in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Luke also leads the Phoenix Dream Center, an organization that offers hunger relief, medical programs, residential rehabilitation programs for adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, job skills training, life skills, counseling, basic education, Bible studies, and more. The oldest son of esteemed pastor Tommy Barnett, Luke has spent his life building, growing, and leading innovative churches. He and his wife, Angel, and their two daughters reside in Scottsdale. For more information, visit www.dreamcitychurch.us.
Excerpted from The Dream-Centered Life. Copyright © 2017 by Luke Barnett. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.