Dream, Devotion's Friend

 
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When my devotion to God wanes, or even buckles, I naturally search for inspiration. Like the countless times I mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed or through basketball highlights with epic music. I even seek the inspiration and revelation of a sermon, so that the devotion of another may inspire mine.

For a few weeks, I’ve been pondering on the idea of devotion. Devotion compels me to fully commit to what I love. Like basketball to Kobe, preaching the Gospel to Billy Graham, there are people who devote themselves to a singular thing their whole lives. Even a drug dealer can inspire others through his devotion to his craft, because our human souls are designed to live in devotion.

God’s Promise, One Man’s Devotion

Caleb silenced the crowd, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it,” (Num 13:30).

What motivated Caleb to devote himself so fully to God’s promise? For forty days, the other ten spies fixated on the giants of the land and the fortified cities. They brought back a bad report which killed the morale of the people. Despair was in the atmosphere. But Caleb didn’t see the size of the disadvantage, he didn’t bow to the atmosphere of pessimism nor fear. He stayed committed, focused on the promise of God; trusting that victory was already theirs (Num 14:9). He dared to dream of a land flowing with milk and honey, and hoped for the land that was promised from the days of Israel’s bondage.

Then I realized something. Devotion stagnates unless it flows from a compelling dream. It’s difficult to be devoted to something for the long haul without a dream. The dictionary defines ‘dream’ as a “cherished desire” or “unrealized desires, longings or plans”. A dream looks to the future with hope, that a cherished desire will one day be fulfilled. I want to talk about the idea of devotion in the realm of desire. Unless there is a strong desire and an unwavering hope for the future, your devotion will not endure.

Fulfilled Desires

Like many immigrants, Kim Jong Jin, the father of Olympic Gold Medalist, Chloe Kim, left his home country to pursue his dream in a foreign land, a dream of a better life for himself and his family. He worked minimum-wage jobs and eventually quit his job to accompany his daughter full-time. Many years later, his daughter would fulfill her dream as she represented America and win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It was heartwarming to witness a father’s joy as he was able to fulfill his cherished desire, with and alongside his cherished daughter, who had also fulfilled her own.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

There’s something powerful about dreams. Dreams not only look to our future, but they bring energy to our present. My senior pastor, Joshua Choonmin Kang describes dreams as, “holy stimuli.” God, our Father, uses dreams to stimulate growth, change, and transformation in our lives. What inspired the Israelites to brave across the wilderness for forty years? It was their cherished desire for a land of their own. Dreams are often born in times of suffering, infused with the hope of God’s promise, nourished by God’s daily provision and actualized through the discipline of walking daily.

How Can You Rekindle Your Devotion to God?

Do you find your devotional life waning? Do you find compromise creeping into your thought life and decision making? You’ve tried setting schedules, tried different reading plans, and praying in different places. But the grind has gotten you stuck in a cycle. Like the Israelites, you might find your heart complaining on the detours and unexpected inconveniences and as a result, you may see your heart running back to the old and comfortable (your Egypt/Slavery).

Learn to dream again because dreaming allows your devotion to breathe.

Take meaningful time and space to reflect on your journey. What are the significant markers in your life? Where has God revealed himself to you? God revealed himself to Abraham in Ur, again in Shechem and also in Bethel (Gen 12). If you’re too busy to dream, you’re just too busy. Seek to know the desires of your own heart, as you seek to know God’s.  Revisit old dreams or revitalize broken ones. Ask yourself: “What are my cherished desires?” My closest friends know my dreams. My wife knows my deepest desires because she is closest to me. But when was the last time you allowed God into your dreams? When was the last time you sought to know what was on his heart? And truly waited and listened?

I thought I wasn’t praying enough or reading the Word enough. I thought I needed to adjust in the practicals, grit my teeth and buckle down. Grit and tenacity is important but my deeper problem wasn’t rooted in the practicals. My problem was that somewhere in my daily grind cycle, I stopped cultivating my dreams with and alongside God. I stopped cherishing my desires and remembering his promises.

My Ceiling Lifted

As I’ve re-committed to cultivating my kingdom dreams, I’m seeing my discipline and passion rise to the level of my dreams. And it doesn’t feel like a quick fix. I see that I still have a long way to go, and it’s humbling me. But I feel strength coming back to my devotion. I feel joy coming back to my daily devotion.  There’s greater purpose to my day and the ceiling I kept hitting, feels like it has now lifted. The angst of not doing enough has eased. Where was my breakthrough? It was somewhere in the slowing down, cultivation of my own dreams and inspiration, and daring to dream boldly.

Make space in your life to reflect on your journey. Where has God brought you out of, and where is God leading you? Let the Word of God inspire you, and allow his promises to rekindle your dreams. Present your cherished desires before God, and allow your friendship to develop with a God who knows your desires, and who longs to share with you his own.

 

Jiwon J Lee (@pastorfromdownunder) is a husband and a youth pastor in Koreatown. Graduated with a M.Div from Talbot Theological Seminary, and currently lives in La Mirada.

 
 
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