For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV)
I know the disappointment of unrealized, childhood dreams. As a young girl growing up in a single-parent home, there wasn’t much dreaming going on beyond my own head and heart. I learned a dream spoken met the breath of impossibility until all that was left was a smoldering wick. I thought keeping quiet and stuffing my dreams deep kept them safe and alive. Quite the opposite. It snuffed them out.
Then, I had kids of my own.
I sat for hours, like most new mothers, staring at my sleeping babies wondering, “Who are you? What will you become? What dreams will you dream?”
It was fun watching them grow, finding our similarities carried in their DNA, discovering their peculiarities and listening to their dreams – silly ones and serious ones. And, I allowed them room for BIG dreams – fostered their imaginations, encouraged them to follow that pull – taught them to stare-down impossibilities.
“If it’s from God, make the decision and let God work out the details,” is how we lived. We weren’t fearless, but we trusted God’s lead.
I remember standing with a few mothers outside the elementary school, waiting for our daughters, discussing life, the universe and everything. I’d just signed the permission slip for my thirteen-year-old son to travel overseas with a reputable youth organization that summer…with a bunch of strangers…alone…without me. These mothers gasped, “Aren’t you afraid something will happen to him?” Well, of course I was afraid, but I had to trust the reputation of this long-lived organization, trust my son, trust God and allow his dream to outweigh the risks.
This trip was only the testing ground for this mother’s heart.
My fifteen-year-old daughter returned home from summer camp with an insatiable desire for Ugandan missions. “I want to go, Mom. If I don’t, who will?” For the first time, I considered snuffing the flame rather than fanning the flame. Uganda was not England. Uganda was dangerous, not friendly. She could face real danger. I might lose her. Travel to Uganda at fifteen? Over my dead body!
But then my own childhood memories, my own words reminded me that ALL things are possible and if God’s in it, make the decision and let Him work out all the details. So, I relented and we set up boundaries. We prayed God lead us to a trustworthy Christian group with an established Ugandan ministry. Within two years, God answered that prayer and my daughter’s now traveled to Uganda three times since with her husband and they’re praying about long-term missions there.
Fanning the flame of our dreams (or someone else’s) or getting God’s view of them is tricky. It means giving God ownership of those dreams, taking risks, trusting God, and growing faith. It means staring down impossibilities through prayer and giving up control. That’s frightening. But, oh…the possibilities!
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at…1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)
Take some time this summer and let your kids dream BIG – big, God-sized dreams. Are you ready?