Have you ever had anybody ask you, “What is your dream?” I remember quite distinctly one conversation I was involved with where I was asked this question point-blank. For me, it was one of the scariest questions I have ever answered. To tell someone my dream meant exposing a piece of my heart, a piece of my soul, and risk getting laughed at or told all the reasons why my dream was the wrong one. But perhaps even scarier than that, to put my dreams into words made it somehow more real, more tangible. Which, of course, means that it seems all the more disappointing if the dream is never achieved.
I think about that when I think about Joseph. He dreamed of a day when all his brothers would bow down to him. I wonder how much that dream persecuted him when he lay in the bottom of a dry well his brothers threw him in. I wonder how lost he must have felt when the very brothers who he dreamed would honor him sold him to strangers as a slave. In that day, it truly must have seemed that his world completely collapsed.
Yet Genesis tells us that the day came when Joseph’s dream came true. There were his brothers, years later, bowing down to him, begging him for food to save their family without realizing that the man they were pleading with was the boy they had left for dead. When I think about that, the human side of me laughs at how Joseph makes his brothers twist in the wind a little bit, toying with them before revealing his true identity. But what I find more interesting is that, when he reveals his identity, “… he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them” (Genesis 45:15). He never says “I told you so”. Instead what he says is, “[God] has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. … You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me … I will provide for you there – so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty” (Genesis 45:8, 10-11).
Joseph’s dream had seemed to his brothers and likely to Joseph a dream that he would rule over his brother. However, through the roller coaster ride that followed, Joseph learned to trade in his dream of lording over his family for God’s dream of providing for his family.
Joseph could have lost his life getting caught up in the details of his life, chasing his dreams and desires. Instead, he chose a better story. God’s story.
You can do the same. If your life’s dream has stalled, look to God. If your dream now realized is not all you thought it would be, look to God. He can give you another dream. A better one, not according to the world’s standard but God’s criterion. Just like Joseph’s. Then you’ll have a story to tell.