Death of a Dream
by Ken Thompson

June 16, 2022

Gospel Integrity

Death of a Dream

By Ken Thompson

June 16, 2022

Have you ever experienced the death of a dream? My name is Ken Thompson. I’m (fairly) new to the GCC. And I have.

My wife, Megan, and I moved to the Tampa Bay Area in 2016, along with our children and some very close friends, to plant a church. That church, Bay Cities Fellowship, will turn five this September. Over the past few years, we’ve longed for our church to experience the power and the presence of God’s kingdom. Since 2017, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” has been frequently taught on, faithfully prayed for, and strategically engaged in the places where we live, work, and play. I’ve often imagined the blessing and bounty of God’s answering that prayer. I’ve envisioned the growth and the good that would come from God moving in our neighborhoods. Yet, recently I was confronted with a new thought: what if my dreams of blessing and success failed to reflect God’s dreams of blessing and success?

Well, to answer that question, I need to give you a little context about me. I’m a dreamer at heart. As a kid, I dreamed about meeting Aslan or fighting alongside Luke Skywalker. As a teen, I dreamed about winning basketball games or becoming the next Michael Jordan. As a college student, I dreamed about marriage and ministry. As I’ve aged (40 this fall!), I still dream, but my dreams have become seemingly less fantastical (meeting Aslan) or absurd (becoming Michael Jordan?!). Yet, since I’m being honest with you, my dreams still remain focused on my progress and success. Even as I began church planting, my dreams included a lot of good for others, but so often, they mainly focused on good for me. I dreamed of being the hero of everyone’s story, including my own. Recently, God confronted me about this reality, and he did through the death of a dream.

I’d like to tell you a little more about this dream but, first, I want to look at 2 Samuel about a dream that the prophet Nathan experienced.

Good Idea or God’s Idea?

In 2 Samuel 7, during a time of rest from war, David approaches his spiritual advisor, Nathan, with a request: David desires to build a house for the Lord. David says to “Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent’” (2 Samuel 7:2). This good idea of David receives affirmation from Nathan. Nathan tells David to “go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you” (2 Samuel 7:3). Can you imagine the excitement David must have felt walking away from that conversation with Nathan? The shepherd turned king now entertained the role of architect for the house of God. What a life! However, what does God have to say about David’s good idea?

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The Lord visits Nathan that night in a dream to reveal a message for the moment. Scripture says, “but that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ (2 Samuel 7:4-7). Basically, in my interpretation, God says to Nathan (and David) “Whatcha y’all doin’ right now?!” David’s good idea was not God’s idea. In other words, David’s dream was not God’s dream.

Recently, as I wrestled through a vocational opportunity, I needed help discerning if this opportunity represented a good idea or God’s idea. In many ways, this opportunity represented my dreams coming true. However, contemplating this opportunity afforded me a chance to look at my internal motivations and true desires. In short, as I looked within, I saw a dream to build the kingdom of Ken and not the kingdom of God.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, even though I’ve frequently prayed that God’s kingdom would come and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven, I’ve often formulated in my mind what God’s will or kingdom should look like. I’d tell God, with good intentions, what I wanted my ministry, marriage, and family to look like. I’d pray for His will to be done but then I’d secretly (not so secretly too) expect God to make my dreams come true. I found this pattern to be both subtle and dangerous for my soul. My words and actions tried to veil the desires of my heart: that God would make my ministry dreams come true. Thankfully, God gave me a “Nathan” to help discern this deceitful practice.

A New Dream?

Now, after reading this article you may ask, “how can we have the same dreams or ideas as God? How do we have God’s ideas and not just good ideas?” Well, I’m not really sure yet. However, here’s what I’m finding hope in right now. Back in 2 Samuel 7, after God squashes David’s plans, the Lord then reveals a better plan. Even though David does not bear the responsibility and privilege of building a house for God, God flips the script when he tells David, “Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house” (2 Samuel 7:11). David’s good idea becomes reshaped and renewed as God presents His idea. Depending on your dream, you may find this sequence equally painful and confusing. Yet, what if, in your struggle, you made this your prayer to God:

“Now take this dream, this husk, this chaff of my desire, and give it back reframed and remade according to your better vision, or do not give it back it all. Here in the ruins of my wrecked expectation, let me make this best confession: Not my dreams, O Lord, not my dreams, but yours be done. Amen.” (Every Moment Holy, p. 236)

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