At home I have a draw called oblivion. Oblivion is the name of the draw because in it are all kinds of things that are never to be seen again. The draw is full of old mobile phone chargers, computer cables, various kinds of batteries and instruction manuals to appliances that I no longer own. My daughter ferrets around in oblivion and pulls out an old iPod.
“Daddy, Daddy I have my very own iPod!”
“That’s nice,” I tell her, “but it’s just for pretending.” For the battery ran flat some years ago.
But my daughter is undeterred: “Charge it Daddy! Charge the iPod!”
Now the iPod is eleven years old and surely hasn’t been switched on for at least eight but having dug up it’s charger from the depths of oblivion the iPod awakens from its slumber. It was like opening a time capsule with songs from high school land songs that were once all the rage. It got me thinking: I wonder if there’s a dream in the draw?
A dream. Shoved in there years ago, not quite discarded, not quite dispensed with but almost entirely forgotten. What have you done with all the dreams that have died in your life?
I was twenty-four years old when God gave me a dream to start a new Church in one of Victoria’s poorest communities. Over the following months,the dream grew into an irrepressible vision to see a Church that wouldn’t just have good news but be good news for the whole community. I read endless books about Church planting and talked to everyone I knew about my dream. I was youthful and eager, my heart full of hope and my head full of dreams; I was alive! It’s a pity my dream did not survive.
Despite my best efforts and many prayers, the Church plant didn’t work out the way I hoped. Truth be told, it didn’t even come close. It was an unmitigated disaster; it felt like a complete and total failure. I packed up, moved away and put my dream in the back of the drawer never to be seen again.
Joseph’s dream in the draw
In the Old Testament Joseph has a dream that God is going to make him a great leader. No sooner has he had this dream he is sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph serves as a slave in the house of Potiphar and is so successful he is put in charge of Potiphar’s entire household. Joseph is a righteous man and when he refuses to sleep with Potiphar’s wife; she makes false accusations and Joseph is thrown into prison. So much for the dream. You can read the full story in the book of Genesis starting at chapter 37.
Holding onto God
There are some things we can learn from Joseph’s experience. Firstly, he even in tough times he continued to put his faith in God. Joseph when in prison interprets the dreams of his inmates. How would it feel helping other people with their dreams when your dreams have gone nowhere? Joseph doesn’t understand why his dreams have come to nothing but continues to serve the Lord regardless.
I had many questions for God when my dream fell on its face. Eventually I recognised that you can question God, or you can worship God andso despite my confusion I decided to worship God. With our limited understanding we cannot always grasp God’s eternal perspective.
Joseph continued to lead. He was put in charge of Potiphar’s household and then later he is put in charge of all in the prison. Wherever Joseph was he put his leadership into action. Joseph didn’t wait around for leadership opportunities to fall out of the sky; he started where he was. I’ve continued to develop my skills and knowledge as a Christian minister. Perhaps God will one day call upon the skills I’ve developed in connection with the dreams I had long ago. If not, I’ll continue to serve God as diligently as I can wherever I find myself.
Finally, we can learn that Joseph waited. He didn’t have any choice being in prison but wait he did. Do you think Joseph was a better leader because of the thirteen years of waiting that took place between Joseph’s dream and its commencement? Abraham waited 25 years to become the Father of many nations as God had promised, was Abraham better for the wait? Moses spent 40 years waiting in the wilderness before God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. C.S Lewis once said: “I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless he sees that it is good for him to wait.”
Don’t discard that dream in the draw. You might need it soon.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is an associate minister with the Churches of Christ denomination. You can find more of Travis’ articles at: