A number of years ago, I came across a challenge by Frank Battleman, author of the Circlemaker. It simply said,
“Dream Big, Pray Hard, Wait on His Timing, Expect the Unexpected.”
These words come back to me recently as we approach the beginning of a New Year. It is a time to dream. . . to dream about what God might want for you in 2019. Maybe because I am nearly 84 years old, my attention goes back to Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17 which both declare, “Your old men shall dream dreams.” So, I am a dreamer, but with a particular orientation. I am looking for God’s surprises, His plans, and His purposes. In other words, His dreams.
Recently, when I was teaching on the subject of ‘Hearing the Voice of God,’ a lady in our church asked me the question, “The big decisions you have made. Did they come out of a time of seeking the Lord, or did they come because God took the initiative and spoke to you about them?” That question made me think. I like people who ask questions that make you think, so I went and looked back at some of the major decisions that my wife Dorothy and I made and how they happened.
I realized that the major decisions and the changes of directions in our lives and ministry had actually come about by God’s initiative and often took us by surprise. They were His dreams, His plans, His ideas. Let me share one such example, taken from Dorothy’s book Called Together about how we came to start a Bible College. Here is the story in Dorothy’s own words.
“I want a Bible college like this in Australia,” was the word Murray Cameron (a pastor and good friend of Alan’s) distinctly heard from the Lord while visiting Faith Bible College in New Zealand in May 1975. This was not a brand new idea to Murray. The vision for a Bible college had been burning in his heart for 18 years.
On his return from New Zealand, Murray invited some interested Christian leaders over to his apartment to share his vision. It was shocking weather that afternoon. As Alan drove to the meeting through torrential rain, a gust of wind blew the top vent off of our camper van.
Dripping wet, the men crowded into the Cameron’s front room, and Murray began to share his vision. Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm. Each had an immediate leap of excitement in his spirit. Yes, this was what God wanted in Australia.
They set another meeting for June. As many of their wives were involved in a ladies meeting at Pitt Street Congregational Church where Dick Mills was speaking, the men decided to hold their meeting at the same time in a back room. At that meeting they agreed, as a step of faith, to open a bank account and each put down a deposit of ten dollars. They also arranged to send out a leaflet advertising the start of the college the following year, in February 1976. The school was to be called Vision Bible College, based on Habakkuk 2:2-3, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”
Later that same week, Murray was attending a Temple Trust (the name of our ministry at that time) minister’s conference where Dick Mills was the speaker. Dick was ministering prophetically to the individual men row by row, beginning at the front. Murray was sitting in one of the back rows. It was 12:12 p.m. and he had to leave at 12:15 to keep another appointment, when suddenly, for no apparent reason, Dick reversed his order and began ministering from the back.
He called Murray forward and gave him a list of scriptures, all of which had to do with “vision,” including the very verse from which Vision Bible College got its name-Habakkuk 2. Then Dick started to prophesy: “That which has been on your heart for 18 years will come to pass in six months.” He knew nothing of the plans for Vision Bible College!
Despite this incredible confirmation, the testing was far from over. The college was due to start in February, but by November, they still didn’t have a principal or suitable venue. A further meeting was called to discuss the matter.
At the time, The Temple Trust was negotiating to obtain “Hebron,” Youth With A Mission’s former Australian headquarters in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, with a goal of setting up a community center there, including a preschool.
While Alan was away meeting with the other men to discuss the need for a principal and venue for the Bible college, I was doing the washing. It was a sunny day, and I enjoyed the comfortable warmth as I hung out the washing in our tiny back garden. I reached up to put clothespins on the line, and all of a sudden a thought came into my mind. It seemed as though God was saying to me, “You know about the preschool. You know you are right about it not going into Hebron.”
I felt reassured.
“If the preschool is not to take up that space then you realize something else has to fit into the plan.”
Well, that’s logical, I thought, not expecting what was to follow.
“You, Alan and the girls will be living there instead.”
I was momentarily stunned. But I knew that I had heard from God. Our little backyard garden became holy ground. I couldn’t wait until Alan came home to tell him what God had said to me.
Meanwhile, the Bible college meeting had no sooner been underway than the Lord began to reveal the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. Hebron wasn’t for a community center but for Vision Bible College. It was to come under the umbrella of The Temple Trust’s ministry, Alan was to be the principal, and he and his family were to live there. In 20 minutes the whole thing had fallen into place.
Alan returned home, wondering how he was going to break the news to me, not knowing God had already prepared me for it.”
So, that is how we ended up starting a Bible College. It was God’s dream, God’s idea, not ours. For us, that has been the best kind of dreams to have.
Maybe God has a dream for you this coming year. Be ready to receive that dream and then, in faith and obedience, embark upon the adventure of seeing it come to life. The Bible is full of dreamers and believers today should be dreamers too. Who knows what God may have in store for you in 2019? So, “Dream Big, Pray Hard, Wait on His Timing, and Expect the Unexpected.”
POSTSCRIPT – A SMALLER VISION
This will appear to be a contradiction to what I have just written, but hear me out. In 1971, I studied for a short period of time at David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge in New York City. During that time, as part of the course, we visited a number of ministries in the city. One of them was a Christian coffee shop in Greenwich Village that was run by David Wilkerson’s mother ‘Ma Wilkerson.’ It was called ‘The Lost Coin.’ I will never forget her sharing with us that night and one of the phrases she said that stayed in my mind was, “Sometimes you need a smaller vision.” Not everyone is called, like her son David had been, to build an international ministry. Sometimes, God has a smaller but very important part for us to play in the overall work of the kingdom, maybe a particular ministry in your local church or community.
“Despise not the day of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4). After all, everything starts small. What God is looking for are people with a vision, whether big or small, who will be obedient and faithful to fulfill that vision.
Read more stories of faith and obedience in the book ‘Called Together’ by Dorothy Langstaff, now available on Amazon.