“‘Here comes that dreamer!'” Joseph’s brothers said. Joseph, the favorite son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, was handsome and gifted by God. Joseph’s brothers saw it and were jealous. There is a difference between a dreamer and one who has dreams.
You probably know the story of Joseph of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers sold him to a caravan on its way to Egypt. The caravan sold him again as a slave to Potiphar, captain of the palace guard of the Pharaoh. From slave to charge of the captain’s household, from falsely accused and imprisoned to the right hand man of the Pharaoh, Joseph’s life was a roller coaster of highs and lows.
Joseph was not a dreamer. He was gifted by God, and he was aware of God’s gifting. He was not shy about telling his brothers, but they were not a very receptive audience. They plotted to snuff out his gifting. Over many years, from the depths of despairing circumstances he rose to prominence; and through another cycle of desperate circumstances, he rose to greater prominence.
In those circumstances, Joseph was loyal, faithful and trustworthy. He was diligent and dependable. He was gifted, but his success grew out of the character that was forged in the difficult times. He was steady in the good times and the bad.
Joseph’s dreams were no pipedreams. Those dreams were not his fanciful musings; they were given by God. They took root and ripened in his heart, and the fruit became the character that others recognized in him . The character borne in the dreams that came from God, forged in the difficulty of his circumstances, were fulfilled in faithfulness to God.
When Joseph shared the dreams with his brothers, they was no reality, other than the gifting. Though Joseph experienced the dreams, the dreams were not yet evident in his life. Those dreams needed to take root in fertile soil. For Joseph, the dreams went through cycles of death and rebirth, growth and pruning back. From his father’s favor to a captive of the caravan; from captive to charge of the captain’s household; from charge of the captain’s household to imprisonment; from imprisonment to right hand to the Pharaoh.
If Joseph was just a dreamer, he would have not have risen above his circumstances. Those dreams that come from God must take root, be nurtured and grow. They need to be watered and nurtured. In the beginning, they are more real in one’s own heart than in the reality that others see. Others will undoubtedly minimize those dreams that God has given us, but we should treasure them nonetheless – and all the more as they come from God.
We do not know what form those seeds/dreams God has put in our hearts will take. As with the cycle of a seed that falls from a tree, we must go through death to those dreams, growing in character and pruning back. Our faithfulness, diligence and resilience in those times, staying true to the character that God desires to grow in us is the formula for turning dreams into reality. Joseph was tempted along the way, but he stayed true to his God. Staying true to God means not compromising what we know to be right and worthy.
Other people, even those closest to us, may not appreciate what God has placed deep within us. Whether our friends, family or neighbors see those things that God has shown us and placed in us is not at all important. We must not allow others to convince us to abandon the things God has given and placed within us. What God gives us is more real than all the criticisms and smirks of others.
Ultimately, the test of the dreams we have is their staying power. We might be tempted to abandon them, especially when others fail to see them. If we hold on to them and hold onto God, those dreams will bear fruit. The fruit is the character forged in the soil our circumstances. People may not see the dreams we see, but they will see the fruit in our character. Ultimately, the character is what God desires – being conformed to Christ is the goal of the dreams God gives us. The rest is just a natural outgrowth of dream that has grown into reality.