Time to Plan and Dream
I just spent the most delightful time talking with God about the next three years and what the goals, ideas, plans, accomplishments, and progress we (He and I) can make in that time. I do this exercise constantly but especially in December and January, as this changing of the year focuses my mind on what God would have me go after in the next 3-5 years.
Years ago, I was challenged to pray about my life and my needs in a completely different way. I was challenged to write down exactly what I want and need if life were to be perfect (i.e., relationally fruitful) five years in the future. I looked at the ten relationships of my life and began detailing what I would want my marriage to be like, my work to be like, my children to be like, as well as my finances and contribution to society. I took three months to work and pray through each relational category, and began to ask God for answers and solutions to each of those ideas every day.
If, as I prayed, I sensed my goal or idea was not right, I changed it to the right one. I remember telling God what I really needed in order to make my family work, my job work, and to meet my girls' impending college expenses. It was amazing to have this back-and-forth dialogue with God over months and now years. What is truly amazing, and you might even say miraculous, is that God provided all that I needed. He truly did the impossible in answer to my prayers about my needs. I asked Him for what I needed to build a righteous, god-honoring life, and He did it. I am still blown away at the fact that God provided ninety percent of what was on the paper. And the stuff He did not provide, He did something better, or else I realized that I didn't need those things like I thought I did. I was offered jobs I was not seeking. I was invited into conversations with my girls that were deep, life changing, and incredibly critical. I was directed to let go of rules and issues to let a relationship grow. And I was encouraged to try new activities that I had not considered for decades.
If we are not careful, we will not ask God for all that He would give us if our goals were larger. (Matt 7:7) I have also found that I need to think out 3-5 years into the future to turn off the "how" issue. We are often so worried about the how that we do not spend enough time with God on the what? What is the dream that He has put in your heart? What could you accomplish with Him if you let go of the fear? Ask God for what you need.
Life is not meant to be static but dynamic. Ask God to thrust you forward toward righteous goals and watch Him answer. If life were ideal in the key relational arenas, what would be happening? If we ask for it in the present, we immediately think it is impossible, so we stop dreaming. But I know that much of what is not possible this week, this month, or this year is possible in 3-5 years, and we need to ask God for it.
Another way to say it is this: If God were going to use your life as an example of a miracle, what would your life look like in five years? You are just talking about what you need if your life is to be maximized in a righteous way.
Use the grid below as a prompt to get you to think about what your ideal life would look like for you in 3-5 years. Spend some time making a list like I did with these nine relationships in life. Spend an hour, a day, a month, or three months and really imagine what would make things great in those areas! When you start this exercise, you will probably jot some selfish things down, but as you go over and over each relationship, you will begin to describe positive, righteous, and godly ideals. Keep praying, keep talking, keep working this out with God.
As you pray through them, expect God to work them out. Write down twenty specific things you would need for each category. This will really stretch you into thinking, praying, and dreaming big with God. Get ready to experience the miracles He will provide to help you get there. His creativity really is unbelievable. Try it!
The Ten Basic Relationships of Life
Marriage Family Work
Finances God Friends Enemies
Church Society Self
I hope this holiday season is a time to stay really close to God and reflect on what your best future can hold. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
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The Fruit of the Spirit explained simply and with relevance for today.
Find out what God is asking from you when He tells you to "be loving" or "practice joy" or "be peaceful," and so on to the people in your life. Get ready to experience life change, deeper relationships, greater success, and more joy. You won't want to miss this one! This book comes with video commentaries from Dr. Gil that accompany each chapter, easily accessible from your smart phone or electronic device.