I was thinking about my dreams recently – dreams for the future, for my kids, for this world. Then I began to wonder if these were just hopes and wishes. Then my mind became all befungled trying to figure out the differences between hopes, wishes, bucket-lists, goals, and dreams. Are they all separate entities? Can they be the same?

Hope. I hope you have a great day. Is that all a hope is? Is it something out of our control – something left to the universe to do with it as it will? Hope in God is putting our faith in Him and that He will work all things out for the good. But hope generally seems like it is something nice we desire though it leaves very little action on our part. Dictionary.com states that to hope is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence, to believe, desire, or trust. During a drought we can hope it rains, but there’s little we may do about that.

Wish. I wish people would be nice to each other. I wish you a Merry Christmas. People wish on a star. A wish seems to be a congenial thought for others and perhaps desires for self. Dictionary.com states it means to want; desire; long for. It seems like control for these wishes is generally out of our control as well. Now if I had a Genie who would grant me three wishes, it would be up to me to name the wishes, but the control would still be out of my hands to make them come true. Again, it seems like minimal action is required on our part.

Bucket-list. This is a list of things a person wants to achieve or experience before reaching a certain age or dying: a check off list of desires to accomplish someday. Perhaps these may consist of once-in-a-lifetime events like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (no thank you) or skydiving (nope). These require action on our part to make them come true. These items may also fall under hopes and wishes I suppose, but once they’re completed, they become a check mark on the bucket-list. These seem generally self-centered, though they could be other-oriented like desiring to go on a mission trip.

Goal. This seems like it may span several of these categories. I had a goal to run a marathon. This is a goal, a dream, a bucket-list item, a hope, and maybe a wish. But what sets it a part as a goal? Dictionary.com states a goal is the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. This is something we may actively work toward achieving. It can be self-focused or other-oriented like fund raising with a certain amount of money as a goal to reach. A plan can be set in place to achieve a goal.

But what is a dream? Is this something we can check off once it is achieved and move on? It seems like a dream is more than a bucket-list item. It is deeper. A dream comes from within. Dictionary.com focused on the night dreams definition but gave synonyms of ambition, desire, aspiration. It is part of who we are and what we want to achieve in life. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book, The Dream Giver in which he believes God gifts everybody with a dream to be used for His Kingdom. Isn’t that amazing? Even if you don’t feel like you have a dream, you do. God didn’t forget you.

It seems like God gifted each of us with different dreams and also with the talents and abilities to make these dreams come true, with His help, of course. It has not been my dream to be a singer and everyone should be thankful for that. So, it seems fitting that God did not give me a beautiful voice. But many people have that dream and can make it happen and bless other people with their amazing songs. If our dreams God gives us help build His Kingdom here on earth, then it is fitting that accomplishing our dreams would bless other people. Wow! So our own dreams are not necessarily about us. Though it’s up to us, with God’s help, to accomplish them, they are mainly other-oriented. Think about that. If we don’t pursue our dreams, others will suffer. If we do pursue them, others will be blessed. Even if it is a personal dream to achieve your PhD, what you learn in your schooling and do in your career will bless others, which you couldn’t have necessarily done without your PhD.

When you opt not to pursue your dream, others will suffer. So, what are your dreams, my friends? Are you actively working to make them come true?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

These books, which encourage children to dream, work hard, and trust God, are available for preorder:

Due out: March 9                                                                          Due out: April 6