Posted: 6/8/18 at 11:10am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It is graduation time! All across our land young people are participating in commencement events, seeing one of their dreams come true, and embarking on fulfilling some of their other dreams. Commencement is an interesting time of year, with two sides to the same coin: the finishing side and the “commencing” side. We celebrate current successes but also focus on the next phase of life.
Graduations and commencements are frequently connected to dreams. We celebrate dreams fulfilled, for which we worked hard. We also celebrate the further portions of the dream, which are now nearer to fulfillment than they were before. It is the dreams we see before us, which give us the passion and energy to move forward toward them. It is dreams of a brighter future, which help us endure the difficulties of daily life.
Dreams are not fulfilled merely by wishful thinking; they are fulfilled through dreaming, planning specific steps to move us toward completion, and then hard work and commitment to fulfill the dream one segment at a time.
Joseph was a young man in a large family. He had eleven brothers and one sister. When Joseph was 17, he had a dream in which he saw himself and his brothers harvesting grain. They would cut enough to put into bundles and tie them. In his dream, the bundle of grain representing each of his brothers formed a circle around Joseph’s bundle and then bowed low to the ground.
The meaning seemed clear: Joseph would become an important leader, and the other brothers would come and bow down before him (see Genesis 37:5-8). Joseph then had another similar dream, recorded in Genesis 37: 9-11 (ESV):
“Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, ‘Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?’ And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.”
Joseph had the dreams when he was around 17 years old. At age 30, he became Pharaoh’s second in power in Egypt. It was not until he was around age 40 that Joseph’s brothers came into the palace and bowed down to this ruler of Egypt—unaware that he was their brother. There are some really important lessons to draw from the dream discovery and fulfillment process.
Dreams take time and work to fulfill: in this case, 30 years and many unforeseen circumstances including betrayal, years of slavery, times of recognition, and times of false accusation. Read the whole story in the book of Genesis; it sounds like a modern day soap opera, with plenty of plot turns and family drama. Joseph loses his dreams; every time he makes progress in regaining his dreams, he experiences setbacks.
One day Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret dreams that no one else could explain. Joseph sought God’s advice and told Pharaoh that the dreams predicted seven years of good crops followed by seven years of famine. God’s advice was to plan ahead by storing grain and supplies during the good years to feed the people through the lean years, and Pharaoh chose Joseph to accomplish this task.
Some years later, Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt to buy grain for their families, who were lacking food due to the famine. They bowed down before Joseph, unaware that he was their brother. So eventually, God fulfilled Joseph’s dreams and saved his family in the process.
What does the story of Joseph teach us? It teaches us that dreams are important for people of all ages, but they are hard to fulfill and may take years of effort, success, and setback. They are important to organizations and businesses as well as to people. Do you have a dream that you are focused upon? Are you taking planned steps to make it a reality? Or do you just live your life on a merry-go-round, going around and around but never making any progress?
Dreams are important. If you don’t have a dream that has captivated your heart and mind, seek God, and ask him to reveal his dream for your life to you. I’m sure it’s a good one!