Perhaps you can relate to my natural reaction to seeing pretty much any movie that exposes social injustice: I want to suit up and fight! Perhaps you have grown in your awareness of sex trafficking, and you resolve to do something about it. Or, you listen to a sanctity of life sermon, or see pictures in a magazine of the starving oppressed of Africa, or an art exhibit highlighting the wounded children of war-torn nations, or a presentation about all of the Bible-less peoples of the world. Your senses are aroused, eyes are opened to the need, and righteous anger or deep compassion rouses you to action!
How can I “dream big” about fighting for these causes when there are so many obstacles and hurdles that stand between me and my dream? How can I solve the problem of a drought in East Africa? How can I abolish abortion in my nation? How can I translate the Bible?
Truth is, it seems there are a million obstacles separating us from the goal of celebrating a completed Bible translation. In light of those challenges, we have been consistently encouraged by several “Incentives” in Scripture that keep us dreaming big…
1. God is Big.
God does not require me to be great. He knows I am not. He does not tell me to look inside myself for “inner strength” to change nations, heal diseases, or bring rain. In fact, he laughs at that. However, the Lord himself is great and there is absolutely nothing that is too difficult for him:
“What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust…All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness… It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness… Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” – Isaiah 40:15,17,22,23,28
2. This Big God Gives Power to the Weak.
So the God who is limited by nothing, who created the earth, who considers nations of earth to be nothing before him, who laughs at the rulers of the earth, who made the lame walk, caused the blind to see, raised people from the dead, who is never tired…generously gives power to those who know they need him.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31
So how do I keep myself from getting burned out when I think about having to raise $55k in a couple of months? I remember that the Lord owns everything, that he is rich, and that he is on my side as I wait on him. How can I have hope that the drought will end in East Africa? God is the one who made the rain and he can easily supply that region with rain. I cannot make rain, but he can.
3. God Tells us to Pray Big.
So, here we are—tired, nervous, sickly people, and the God of the universe tells us to ask him to do things that we cannot. He actually gives believers promises in Scripture so that we will ask him to do things that are beyond us. It is like when one of our kids asks us to get them their toy from the top shelf—we are their only hope of receiving that toy. In the same way, prayer is small people asking a great big God to do things that are outside of our control. Here are a couple promises:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:13-14
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” – Psalm 37:5
“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18
I am filled with hope that we will be able to raise all the support we need by Dec 1st because we have been persistently asking God for this. I am filled with hope that believers praying together on Sunday mornings for the Lord to cause rain in East Africa will in fact cause rain. I am filled with hope that a group of Christians praying in front of an abortion clinic every Saturday will in fact shut the abortion clinic down. If God tells me to ask for anything, then I will take him up on his offer.
4. God’s Big Dreams are Our Big Dreams.
Finally, I know that the dreams that I have are a little picture of God’s dreams because of what the Lord has revealed about himself in Scripture. I know that the Lord told the prophets to write down his message time and time again so that others could read it. I know that the Lord cares deeply for the oppressed and lonely because the Bible says that over and over. I know that the Lord cares about those who experience famine because the Lord sent Joseph ahead into Egypt to prepare for the coming famine. When I have the witness of Scripture behind me, I can be confident that I am not trying to fit God into my agenda, but instead, I am a very small tool that he may see fit to use in his agenda. And when I pursue God’s agenda, all Heaven is behind me.
So, all that to say: Dream big brothers and sisters. Attempt great things for the Lord. Do not let obstacles stop you. Know that with one word, God can remove them all.