When Dreams are Delayed

I confess, I can be pretty impatient. When I set my sights on something I want it now.

But God-sized dreams are rarely served up fast food style. In fact often, they come slower than slow cooked.

You see, I’ve already had this vision for My Messy Desk for at least five years and the concept for what I thought would be my first book for nearly four. I’d guess some of you have been waiting on your dreams much longer than that.

With my husband’s job, we move around every two to three years, so purchasing a store-front location isn’t practical. My duties as an Army wife, mom, and community volunteer make it hard to earn enough income through crafts to even consider paying rent on a space like that fiscally responsible. You may face similar, or completely different, challenges that affect the timing of your dreams.

There have been times I’ve wondered if the dream had reached the end of its shelf life. I’ve asked God if my dream had died. So far, He hasn’t led me toward that thinking. And so, I can only assume the dream is just delayed. It is taking longer than my impatient flesh can tolerate. 

One Bible character who knew a little something about delayed dreams was Joseph. At 18 years old he dreamed that his older brothers would bow down to him. Instead they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Over the course of about nine years, he worked his way to the top of Potiphar’s team, but was then falsely accused of attacking his boss’ wife, which landed him in jail. While there he made a couple of friends and practiced his dream interpretations. When Joseph was 30, Pharaoh called for him to interpret his own difficult dream. Pharaoh was so impressed he made Joseph the second most powerful person in Egypt. Joseph helped Egypt store up enough supplies to endure the coming famine, and eventually his brothers came begging for sustenance. After some trickery, Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers and they fall down before begging for mercy. Joseph was 41 years old. He waited 23 years for the fulfillment of his dreams.

Here are four lessons I learned about what to do when dreams are delayed from Joseph’s journey.

Pray for God’s Direction.

I know I say this a LOT, but that’s because it is so critical. We must be in constant communication with the Creator. We must voice our desires, listen for His leading and seek out the treasures of His Word that have the power to direct our lives. Chasing our dreams is different that following our hearts. If God places a desire in our hearts, we must allow Him to direct us. We cannot make decisions about the dream based on our feelings. During a delay God may prompt us to make slight course corrections or even redirect the dream altogether.

Hone Your Craft.

Practice. Get really good at what God has gifted you with. For me, this means writing lots of words and trying all sorts of new crafts. For you it might be studying about biology or a particular geographic region. It might mean swimming or running or cycling lap after lap after lap.

Establish Your Support Network.

Find people who support your dream. Find people who have similar dreams. Gather these people, your tribe, and talk with them about where you feel God leading you. Find out where He is directing them. Support their endeavors. Ask for their help. Pick their brains. Challenge each other. When the going gets tough or the wait is excruciating, these are the people who will prop you up. Just be sure your sharing with the right people.

Trust God.

If you still feel Him directing your toward the dream you discovered in your heart, then while you’re waiting trust that He is working. When we remember that we are waiting on the Lord, He is faithful to strengthen and sustain us through any delay (Psalm 27:14). He could very well be preparing the way for your dream to flourish, removing obstacles and setting conditions if you’re willing to wait. But really, the primary goal of any dream should be to lead us into a deeper relationship with God. Simply learning to trust Him more could be the point of the delay.

When dreams are delayed:  pray, hone, establish support, and trust God.

When dreams are delayed: pray, hone, establish support, and trust God. #Dreams Click To Tweet

Sometimes delays are just delays, giving you or God time to set just the right conditions for your dreams to become realities. But other times, they signal the death of your dream. Next week, we’llI have a very special guest who’s going to share her encouraging words on what to do when the worst happens.


Don’t miss the other great posts in this series:

Daring to Dream

Discovering the Dream

Dreaming with a Dose of Discernment

Doing the Dream

Dreaming Doesn’t Mean Discontent

When Drudgery Dulls Dreams

When Dreams are Delayed

Death of a Dream

Laying Down the Dream

And coming Soon:

Dreaming isn’t all Dandelions and Daffodils

(re)Designing the Dream

Living the Dream

Dare to Dream Again


For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerThought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridayGrace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul SurvivalMonday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His StoryWoman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots.

32 thoughts on “When Dreams are Delayed

  1. Oh yes, I believe we can all relate to this. We can also learn so much from Joseph’s journey. Thank you for breaking it down into 4 practical lessons for us, Liz. I was thinking a lot about dreams yesterday, and I realized that I’ve had dreams in the past that didn’t come to pass, but when I think about them now, I realize they weren’t part of God’s plan for me. In fact, with some dreams I wonder what I was thinking! Has that ever happened to you? I’m thankful God grows us, matures us, and (sometimes) does not bring those dreams to fruition. He knows what’s best for us, and He works all things together for our good. Great post once again! Love this series!

  2. P.S. For some reason I was subscribed to you with my old email address, so I wasn’t seeing your new posts on the day you wrote them. So if you see a new subscription from me, I subscribed with my new email. I check that one more often. Don’t want to miss a post!<3

  3. ❤❤❤ Joseph’s patience has been such an encouragement to my family for years! Thank you for breaking down those four necessary concepts into practical steps. You are so beautiful with words!

  4. Such great points about this. What we think of is delay is actually God’s timing. I think if I reframe my expectation and stop naming it as a delay, my heart will be more open to embrace this waiting on God. New thought as I reflect on your post. One thought comes to mind re your craft dream…have you considered doing a FB live or google hangout to encourage women to join you for a time of craft and encouragement? That could be really pretty cool. I remember going to a friends house for “stamping” workshops. We made cards and had fun hanging out. So fun:) Linking with you from #Monday Minute with God at Plantingroots.net.

    1. So true, Ginger. We are waiting on God!! I’ve been toying with several idea to move beyond my physical desk… but they are all pretty logistically heavy. Lots of ways to go with it, and I probably just need to pick one! XO

  5. I’m loving this series, Liz! Joseph’s long delay is an encouragement for our long delays. God is always working behind the scenes, preparing everything in His perfect timing. As I’m seeing delay here and there I will make sure to “pray, hone, establish support, and trust God.”

  6. Liz, this post could have been written just for me.
    I am SO not a process person — all about the destination! And I do get discouraged in the space between “want” and “have,” so thank you for this godly perspective.

    1. You and me and a whole lot of other women with God-sized dreams, Michele! It can be discouraging to wait and wait and wait without seeing the results we hope for. But God… He sees our feeble attempts at faithful steps and knows our hearts! And I want so badly to want what He wants for me more than what I want. I just know it will be so much better, even if I have to wait! Blessings!

  7. Times of waiting are not easy but this is great advice. Joseph’s story always encourages me that God has a plan and if he has given us a dream it will work out in his time.

  8. Liz, this is such a good post, and your 4 tips are spot on. I love the reminder that God is the dream-giver and our main Consultant. I’ve discovered that sometimes I hold too tightly to my dreams, and God has to let them die so they can become what He envisioned them to be. Hard lessons, but when He begins to move in the midst of me following my heart/seeking Him, it gets exciting!

    1. Oh, you’re gonna love the next couple of posts, then, Jeanne! Holding on to our dreams too tightly causes a whole lotta hurt! Thanks for your kind words! Blessings!

  9. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Liz. The one about praying for guidance is so important. I forget it easily. I assume just because God told me to do something last year, I don’t need to keep asking for guidance, but you’re reminding me that we always need to lift up our dreams and ministries to Him for guidance. I can relate on so many levels!

  10. Love this post and this series, Liz…for real. In delaying the dreams in my own life, I have seen more of how He is honing me in the process so when the dream is here I am actually ready to do just that. I have come to love the process of what He does in me in the waiting, seeking and praying about the dreams of my heart.

    1. Indeed… There have been so many things I thought I was ready for and in hindsight can see how much I still needed to learn or grow. So thankful He knows best! XO

  11. ooh, excited to see who our special guest will be. 🙂 — As you know, this whole dreaming thing is new-ish to me. But, even though it’s still vollying semantics, I’ve decided I rather prefer having dreams to having goals. As you’ve stated so well here, God is the author of dreams. We can decide our own goals, but — God, He gets to decide the dreams. And, what I love most is that — He plants them so seamlessly into our DNA that we forget they weren’t our ideas to begin with! 🙂 Liz, I’d love to hear what your dreams are for your site and for your book. 🙂 Thanks so much for this series and for faithfully sharing with us at #ChasingCommunity. ((xoxo))

    1. Vollying semantics! I like that! Our guest tomorrow is a dear friend of mine who has some very encouraging truths to share about the death of her dreams. I so wish we could sit down for coffee and discuss our dreams, Brenda! Blessings!

  12. Oh yes! So much truth in this. I’ve been so frustrated at times at the delays in my dreams – only to realize later that I wasn’t nearly ready. Trusting God can be so hard, but He does have the best plans in mind. Just hard to accept we can’t get it done our way, right now. 🙂

  13. Great tips, Liz!
    The story of Joseph is so inspirational in times like these. I love your suggestion to keep practicing and gaining skill at your craft. This will help us be at the top of our game when the time finally comes to realize the dream!

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