"When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, DISCRETION will preserve you; understanding will keep you."
I've always fancied myself to be an open book. For years, I've lived with the self-perception that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and I've got NOTHIN' when it comes to a poker face.
Consequently, setting boundaries when it comes to relations with others and determining whom-to-share-what-with is a concept that has long been somewhat unfamiliar to me. For years, I thought that by establishing structure regarding whom I allow myself to fully trust to confide in, whom I invite into the telling of the most personal and sacred aspects of my life, would somehow make me ingenuine, overly-guarded, seemingly defensive, or simply seem unwelcoming.
Recently though, I'm starting to realize that keeping some things to ourselves, and others within the confines of our wisely pruned inner circles, does not make us any of those things; it DOES, however, keeps us in alignment with scripture.
Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet."
Scripture points to the notion that there is value in protecting the things that are important to us; we can do so by establishing boundaries as to how we relate to and reveal the things that God is showing us to others.
It is not about isolation - we were meant to live in communion and fellowship with one another. We would have no testimony, no ministry, if we weren't willing to open up about what God is doing in and through our lives. It's about recognizing that our intimacy with God, our discernment, our own faith, our own spiritual and mental wellness, and the lives of those people - children, spouses, family, and the dearest of friends- who have been entrusted to our care, are our primary responsibilities. We have to cherish and protect those areas FIRST.
It's also about timing.
Some dreams, while they truly are from God - and you may be completely certain of their validity - just aren't yet ready to be exposed completely.
The visions-for-our-lives God plants within our hearts are like seeds. These sacred dreams need time to grow in their roots before they can breakout of the fertile soil - the protection - of His word and into the elements of the inconsistent natural world.
Just like the seed of a flower has to grow first in the dirt, sinking its roots into the soil that sustains it, before it can spring up and sprout and bloom into the beautiful, colorful, and fragrant flower that it's meant to be, that brings joy to the world, the secrets Holy Spirit reveals to us need this protected space to flourish, too.
It's not that a dream-exposed-too-soon loses its ability to come to pass; it's just that it becomes more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, the more thinly it is spread around.
In the garden, sometimes a seedling may sprout quickly and eagerly. It may seem fine at first, when the sun is shining softly and the morning dew is just enough of the water it needs. But when the elements of nature come- and they will- the sprout that exalted itself prematurely may not have the firm foundations it needs to stand against harsh winds, frigid nights, and heavy rains. A seedling sprout too soon is at risk for being blown off course by a busty breeze, freezing over in its place, or being drowned out in overwhelming rains.
So it is with a dream, a mission, a secret, a calling, a whisper upon your heart, that is not yet ready to be open and accessible to all. The more people who have access to the things developing within your heart, the more susceptible those things become to lies from the enemy, false prophecy, and misdirection. Even though the people speaking into your situation may have the best of intentions, the truth is, they don't know what's in your heart. They don't know what our sweet friend, Holy Spirit, has spoken to you. They don't know what reading God's promises has written on the tablet of your heart.
Think of the story of Joseph, found in Genesis 37. He had a call from God, revealed as a dream, and he KNEW it, knew it. He was eager for it. He assumed that it was true, and not to be kept hidden. Without considering the usefulness of revealing the dream to unsuspecting others, Joseph went to his father and his brothers to tell them of his dream. How did they respond?
"So they hated him even more
for his dreams and for his words." Genesis 37:8
Joseph's brothers hatred led them to respond to his revelation by selling him as a slave. Though God is sovereign and the dream was from the Lord, Joseph's dream did ultimately come to pass (Genesis 41), but only after much of his time was spent in slavery and imprisonment. I can't help but to wonder what Joseph's journey might have looked like if he had been able to access the wisdom we have from scripture today, which forewarns us to guard our hearts, practice discretion, and hold on to our dreams in faith.
The truth is, we can't be angry when we share a God-sized dream with people and they don't jump on board with it immediately with an action plan. It's not their duty to cultivate and encourage and protect that dream. God didn't plant it in them, asking THEM to have faith in YOUR dream. He gave it to YOU. He sowed that seed into your heart.
Your dream is your entrustment, therefore it's your responsibility.
It is your assignment. Your duty.
Something God has entrusted you with
to be protected, cultivated, and held onto with FAITH.
Ask God to help you discern the dreams within your heart, to determine if they truly came from Him, or if some other seed was planted there. The Bible says time and time again that the heart is deceitful among all things. Process the whims of your heart with the Lord, by reading scripture and spending time in prayer. Ask God to confirm or alter them for you. See that they align with scripture. Ask Holy Spirit to interpret the word for you. And always, always, be open to asking God to intervene, and swiftly, should some dream you THOUGHT was certainly from Him is revealed to NOT be His best for you in your walk and season (hey, it happens).
When we allow our dreams to grow - to be expanded, confirmed, redirected, or tweaked - in a protected space, yielding intimacy between just us and our Creator, it allows their roots to be established strongly and deeply, in His will, in His anointing, and in our hearts. A firmly rooted plant is not easily stolen, steered, or shaken.
Let your conversations with God retain their sacredness by allowing them to first dwell under the protective shadow of His leading.
These three verses - I've been clinging to the promises they reveal for years, since the beginning of my journey in meeting the Spirit of God face to face.
When I found myself feeling lost, lacking purpose, or going nowhere, I clung to Jeremiah 29:11. It reminded me that even when we cannot see them, God has meaningful plans and purposes for our lives, which He held in His heart even before He knit us together in the our mothers' wombs. I held on to this truth and prayed that God would reveal those purposes to me; it gave me hope for my future.
When this hope and those prayers began to stir up visions for a future within my heart, and yet I couldn't see any possibility of their coming to fruition in what were the current circumstances of my life, I held onto Psalm 37:4. I prayed for God to align the desires of my heart to His purpose and will, and then I set my eyes on Him. I let Him become my joy and my pursuit, faithful that He would bring the truest and purest desires of my heart to life in His perfect timing.
When I felt myself drawing nearer to the goodness and vision He had laid upon my heart, but the details were up in the air, or it seemed that detour after detour stood between me and the materialization of those God-dreams, I clung to the declaration of Romans 8:28, that He WILL work all things together for the good of those who love Him, those who take delight in Him, and who are seeking to fulfill His purposes for our lives.
After years of holding on to these truths like a lifeline, I am finally seeing the start of all of those hopes, desires, and dreams coming to fruition in my life. I see the truths that these promises declare arising in abundance over every aspect of my life. But I didn't find them in my striving; I found them in my surrender.
It wasn't until I truly let go, began to really study and digest the word of God, sought out discernment and clarity in His commandments, and then laid down every single aspect of my life to rest in obedience to His word, surrendering to His will with open hands and an open heart, that the word of God came alive in my life, through the realization of all that these promises held for me.
Proverbs 16:9 says, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." It wasn't until I finally realized what it looks like to follow Jesus one choice at a time that this verse made sense to me. We look into our hearts, and decide where we feel called to go, but He leads us there, one righteous and obedient, Spirit-led choice at a time.
About a year ago, I wrote this in the caption of an Instagram post:
"We don't need to have a perfect (and completely detailed) vision of the future ahead of us to follow His lead. God is faithful to light the path for us, but He keeps us dependent on Him by showing us only the EXACT NEXT STEP ahead... we don't have to have it all figured out to follow Jesus.
Just like the headlights on our cars light up the path directly ahead of us, but not the lurking darkness further along the winding road, God's Spirit shines light JUST far enough ahead so that we can embark on the journey and stay on the road, even when we can't see the destination."
GOD PROMISES TO GIVE US a hope and a future, the desires of our hearts, and that He will work all things together for our good, but these things happen only when we trust Him, delight ourselves in Him, love Him, and heed His call.
When we love Him wholly, committing ourselves to His direction and leading, when we are willing to surrender - THAT'S when He brings the God-dreams of our hearts to fruition in our lives.
photo credit: Torrance Saunders