I am an avid believer in teaching children about spiritual things. I don’t tell my kids that the monster in the closet is just a figment of their imagination. Neither do I teach them to ignore their dreams. Instead, I take advantage of every opportunity to teach them about Jesus, our authority in Christ, Satan and demons, and most of all dreaming. Why dreaming? Well for starters the Bible places quite an emphasis on it as a way that God chooses to communicate. That alone should be reason enough! For instance, God said quite emphatically that He spoke to prophets in dreams, visions, and dark sayings. Also, the Bible has more than 200 references to dreams and visions. That, my friends, says a lot about their importance in our spiritual life.
That being said, I wanted to relay a message to you that God gave my 11-year-old son in a dream. Though it was a personal message for him, the application derived from its interpretation is universal. Here is the simple message God gave my son, “Use What’s In Your Hand!”
My Son’s Dream
One day my son came to me and said, “Dad, I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I was walking down the street with a blank piece of crumpled paper in my hand. As I was walking, I came across a trash can so I took the crumpled paper and threw it into the trash. When I opened my hand the paper was back in my hand again. So I threw it away again but it reappeared in my hand again. No matter how many times I threw it away it kept reappearing in my hand.”
Then he attempted to interpret the dream but was unsuccessful. So daddy helped him out by taking the time to show him how to interpret the dream. As I said, I believe in teaching children about the spiritual nature of things from a biblical perspective.
What His Dream Means
This is what I told him. I told him that the trash can is a thing that we use to discard things that we consider to have no value. Then I told him that the paper represented something such as a gift or talent that God has put in his hands. In addition, his action of throwing it away was an indication that he had little regard for this gift. Finally, I told him that the reason it kept reappearing was because God wants him to know that this talent has value. Last, I told him that God is trying to change his mind about this talent. He wants him to use the talent.
The paper represents his particular talent, which is writing. It was blank because he has neglected to write anything on it. Writing and storytelling is something that he does well, but he rarely finishes any story that he starts. (He’s picked up his daddy’s old habit)
What the Dream Means to All of US
Now let me ask you a question. What is it that God has put into your hands that you devalue? What talent has he given you that you seem to think of as useless trash? As a minister, I frequently have the opportunity to converse with people. In speaking with them, one thing I find interesting is the number of people that don’t use their talents. Now when I say talent, I am not referring to just the obvious ones, i.e, art, music, dance, writing, etc. I am also referring to such talents as leading, organizing, cleaning, hugging, smiling, encouraging, listening, planning, advocating, and many others. I know that my second list of things are among the most lightly regarded talents. That is because we don’t see them as talents. We see them as trash.
Here is an example. One day a woman came into my office a bit disheveled about some things happening in her life. Therefore, I engaged her in a conversation. After talking about her life and all that she had been through God gave me a word for her. It was a simple yet profound truth. I said, “You know, one of the reasons Satan fights you so much is because of your smile.” I continued, “Your smile is a gift from God that lights up a room.” I then took a few minutes to share with her how Satan often attacks the very thing that God has gifted us with. One of her gifts was her smile. She had the kind of smile that invited you in and signaled welcome. You know the kind of smile I’m talking about, the infectious kind that causes others to smile. After giving her this small but effective word of wisdom, her countenance changed. She said that she has always been complimented on her smile. Not just because it was a nice smile, but because as I said, it was infectious.
See, so often these little things about us that God has uniquely gifted to us, are undervalued. Who would have ever thought a smile could be a gift? But it is. Don’t take it for granted that everyone can do what you do and have the impact on others that you have. In many cases, it’s just not true.
There are others of you that are great natural caregivers and nurturers. You are naturally patient. You are naturally kind. You are naturally encouraging. You are naturally gentle. Again, don’t take it for granted that everyone has this ability. I know from personal experience that everyone is not naturally gifted to take care of the elderly. Not everyone is naturally gifted to be counselors. Not everyone is gifted to be a compassionate life coach. But some of you are! Each of us is gifted in a unique way that God wants to use to bring beauty to someone’s ashes.
Has Satan Shown You the Bushes Yet?
Satan is tricky. His specialty is and has always been getting people to see themselves differently. He first started with Adam and Eve. We often focus on the disobedience and the resulting fall of mankind in the story. But, the other consequence of the story was the shifting of the identity of Adam and Eve. You may be thinking, “Preacher, what are you talking about?’ Well, God had placed them in the garden naked. It was generally accepted as good by all parties. First, God said of everything He made that day, “It is good.” That sentiment included His naked human creation. Second, even the scriptures testify to Adam and Eve’s acceptance of their nakedness. Then their adherence to Satan’s voice caused them to see their nakedness as evil. So evil, that they hid parts of who they were from themselves, each other, and God!
So get the picture. They were okay with God’s design at one time and not okay with the same design later. Again, they were so distraught about it that they were willing to hide it. When you think about it, it is akin to my son throwing his dream in the trash. You see, Satan’s real talent is getting you to see your God-given design negatively. How many of you have devalued your singing voice because someone said it was not good? How many of you are like the lady I spoke of earlier, hiding a smile behind pain caused by the enemy?
Ultimately, Satan desires for you to be so consumed by what he said you are not, that you completely hide who you are. Adam and Eve’s first response was to cover up with leaves. After enough time lingering in their new faulty perspective of their value, they eventually hid in the bushes. What this represents is how something small can become something consuming. How many of you have gone from “I’m not talented” to “I’m not worthy?” Don’t let Satan take you to the bushes. That is where a few leaves can turn into a bush! In other words, you start blending in until you can’t see how different your design is from those around you. Every leaf looks the same to someone hiding in the bushes. But I dare you to shake those leaves off and see your unique design.
Now for some of us, those leaves represent a gift of speaking. Or a gift of smiling. Or a gift of dance. Or a gift of business sense. Whatever those leave represent in your life that you use to hide your design… SHAKE THEM OFF and GET OUT OF THOSE BUSHES!
One More Idea from the Dream
As you can see, the message in the dream was not just for my son. Again, as with my son, many of you have talents, gifts, and skills that you have neglected to use. Like the dream suggested to my son, you have devalued it and cast it to the side. Nevertheless, there is one important aspect of the dream that I have yet to discuss. That important aspect is the fact that even though he kept trying to get away from it, the opportunity to use it kept reappearing. Can I tell you something? If this is hitting home in your heart it is because, like the dream, God keeps giving you another chance to use that gift. Every time you think little of it God creates a way for you to see that it is valuable.
As I said, I talk to a lot of people. On one occasion, I ran into someone I knew just as we were about to enter the bathroom. A small conversation about our kids led to a conversation about childhood dreams. I had mentioned to her that I train my children in the arts and encourage them to pursue their interest now. This person then opened up to me about her career blunder and how she was so far removed from her dream. Just then I felt the hand of the Lord come upon me so I knew He wanted to speak to her. So I allowed Him to speak through me. By all appearances, it looked as if we were engaged in a normal conversation, but in reality, I was being fed and led in the conversation. So I spoke into her dream. The dream that she thought so little of and was willing to let die. At one point in the conversation, she even devalued it referring to it as a child’s dream. So I gave my testimony about how God helped me to regain confidence in the value of my own gift. Then, before I knew it, her eyes lit up. God was filling her with inspiration. He was helping her shake free from those leaves that were hiding the value of her dream. God had spoken life and value back into her gift.
During the conversation, she also confirmed something to me. She told me that though she had not been connected to the dream in years, the opportunity to use it kept presenting itself. Like the dream, God was putting the dream back in her hand. Likewise, God will keep giving you another opportunity to use your gift.
The Result of the Dream
So what affect did this dream have on my son? Since my son had experienced such a clear encounter with God, I made a decision. I decided that if this writing talent was important enough for God to speak to an 11-year-old boy, then I should participate in the dream. Therefore, I bought him a laptop and encouraged him to write. The result was a series of stories. At first, they were just short stories written for fun. Then at some point, my son decided to post them to an online website for aspiring writers. To his surprise, his story garnered a whopping 230 plus reads the first day. To say the least, he was excited, hopeful, and more inspired by the experience. Now I know that 230 reads does not sound like a lot compared to the millions of online users. However, it was a great first start that confirmed that he had a God-given ability to tell stories that people want to read.
Hopefully, he will have published his first book of short stories this year. He has already been building a following. All we have left to do is supply his audience with his stories.
Let me end with this. Ask God to show you that “thing” that you keep throwing away. Ask Him to show you it’s value again. Then start using what He shows you and watch your life change! Use what is in your hand.
Welcome to Doing Life On Fire!