We often use the terms ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’ to refer to things we would like to see happen in our lives, things we desire. We refer to ‘dreaming’ of becoming a movie star, singer, preacher or any number of other aspirations. The reality is that dreams are things we aspire to and are linked to the idea of having a ‘vision’ for out future. While these ideas are often popular, in my experience many of us never achieve them, they remain just that, unfulfilled desires. An important point from a Christian perspective is that we need dreams and visions from the Father’s heart. Those are the ones worth pursuing. Yet, even if we know where we should get them from, and we have them, the ‘how to’ is not automatic.
I remember once hearing that ‘when opportunity knocks it usually shows up in work clothes.’ The idea being that for dreams and visions to be realized we need to do more than simply think about them; we need to take action. So let me tie dreams and visions to the reality of ‘work clothes.’
Dreams and visions are often amorphous. They are like a viewing a mountain from a great distance where specific aspects come into focus as we draw near. Our drawing near requires a strategy and persistence. The dream or vision pull us toward the future while a strategy anchors us in what we need to do in the present to achieve it, to reach our mountain.
To illustrate this, I will share from my own life since I know it best. I can remember as far back as high school having sense of a call to teach. I considered further education as a teacher but frankly I did not have great marks from grade 10-12. I had skipped a lot of school for a variety of reasons and just made it through grade 12 so I began my work career. At age 20 I was visiting my parents and my sister was home for a visit as well. I commented on not being happy with my job and my sister suggested I could go back to school. This comment was a spark that stirred something in me that led to action. I sought out some college information, applied for a program I was interested in, quit my job and moved 500 kilometres away to attend college. I simply assumed I would be accepted into the program, thankfully I was.
For my career I spent thirty-seven years working in the social services field. I was never employed as a teacher. The end? Not quite. In my career I intentionally sought out teaching opportunities, I took a certificate program in adult and continuing education through the university while working. I took training in conflict resolution and taught part time for the provincial program for a decade. I continued my education and did an MA in Conflict Management. Later in my career I became the manager of the training unit for the largest child welfare region in the country. I did some part time teaching at a local university. The last six years of my career I was the Director of Engagement and Education for a legislative office. I did a lot of teaching over my career.
Additionally, I became a believer early in my career and did ongoing teaching at church, including being the interim pastor of a church for about a year. Thus, while I was never formally a ‘teacher’ I frequently taught and still do because I pursued a calling and purpose that He had placed within me and took concrete steps to see this realized.
The idea of a calling or purpose is common in church circles while the fulfillment of it is not even though it is rooted in scriptural concepts. Years ago, I looked more deeply at Proverbs 20:5 because it relates to seeing dreams and visions fulfilled.
5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (NKJV)
I realized there was more depth and so from my research created my own translation of Proverbs 20:5, ‘Purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a discerning man will draw it out.’ I have referenced it many times over the years. Interestingly, after I had done this the English Standard Version came out with this translation of the verse.
5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 (ESV)
The Hebrew word translated as ‘understanding’ basically means to discern or understand, תְּבוּנָה tebunah (108b); from 995; an understanding:—discernment(1), reasonings(1), skill(1), skillful(1), skillfully(1), understanding(37). Inherent in the verse is the idea that purpose or calling in our lives is put there by the Father and it needs to be drawn out of us. I believe we can draw it out ourselves or have others draw it out of us. We can see our dreams and visions realized if we recognize and respond to His calling, that which He has placed within us.
In each of our lives we have the opportunity to discern and then realize His calling and purpose in our lives. Even when we fail, we can still recover. We have an example of this in scripture with John Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Acts 12:12). He traveled with Paul and Barnabas on their first apostolic journey (Acts 13:5), deserted them and was rejected by Paul (Acts 13:13, 15:36-38). We later see Paul commending John Mark as a fellow worker and comfort to him (Colossians 4:10-11). Church history also tells us he is the author of the gospel of Mark.
My conclusion, pursue His calling and purpose. If you don’t know what yours is then seek out wise counsel from mature and spiritually gifted believers who can discern and help you develop yours. When you have failures, like John Mark, seek out godly support and counsel and keep going, believing what Paul wrote.
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
This is available to us, the mountain is calling, go climb it!
 Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).