Joseph had a dream . . . (Genesis 37:5).
Sometimes it’s hard for us to hold on to our dreams. Years pass, we get older, we give our attention to other things like babies and bills. Dreams are so easily eclipsed by these good things in our lives. So we let the dreams go, give them a quiet dismissal.
But sometimes the dreams we think we’ve dismissed have a way of hanging around. While we were we busy living our lives the dream was ever present. Maybe when we can’t seem to hold on to our dreams, our dreams have a way of holding on to us.
Joseph had a dream; actually, he had two dreams. Each presents the same picture. As Joseph and his brothers were binding sheaves of grain, the brothers’ bundles all bowed down to Joseph’s bundle. The same picture is seen again as the sun and moon and eleven stars bow down to Joseph. This is a bold dream, including not only the brothers, but also Mom and Dad among the bowing heavenly host (Genesis 37:5-11).
We see this picture in Genesis 37. If we’ll stay with the story long enough, we’ll see it again in Genesis 50. This time it is more than a picture. It’s reality. What the seventeen year old boy saw in his dreams is now happening right at his feet as his brothers, forced to Egypt in search of food, bow before him.
A dream may take many years to come to fruition.
There were so many times when Joseph could have easily dismissed his dream. The evidence gleaned from Joseph’s actual life experience suggests that the brothers were right. Joseph’s dreams were foolish – grandiose imaginings of an adolescent mind. The dream should have never survived.
Stripped of his prized tunic, thrown in a well – so much for the dream. When Joseph’s brothers negotiated a deal with the Midianite merchants and sold Joseph as a slave, the dream should have been dismissed and forgotten.
As Joseph took the role of Potiphar’s household servant, the dream should have been recognized a joke.
Sitting in prison, accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, Joseph could have let go of whatever was left of his dream. By this time the dream should have died.
And for all we know, there might have been times when it did. But even in prison, Joseph’s fondness for dreams and their meaning earned him a reputation among the prisoners and guards. And eventually this turned his life around (Genesis 40 & 41).
All along, the dream was holding on to Joseph. Better said, the God who gave the dream was holding on to Joseph – and holds on to you as well, even when you think you’ve lost your dream.
That’s the difference between a dream and raw ambition. Ambition is what we set out to do that will make us great. A dream is what God wants to do through us that will make God look great. Ambitions drive us and wear us out. Our dreams call us, beckon us, and give us life.
Ambitions sometimes need to die. But we need our dreams.
What dreams have you let go of? And what dreams might be holding on to you today?
O God of past, present and future, hold me fast. Give me a picture of what tomorrow can be. Help me to understand how you have already been at work in my life. Work through me in ways that seem beyond imagining. Grant to me a dream, I pray. And bring it to pass as you will. Amen.