Review of "The Dream Giver"

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Perhaps you feel stuck in your job, are considering a job change, or want to start you own business, but just can’t seem to do anything about it. Or maybe you’ve already started a new job or business, but have found the obstacles along the way seemingly insurmountable.

No matter what’s stopping you from moving forward, Bruce Wilkinson’s new book could change your life.

Wilkinson has been stirring the Christian community ever since his Prayer of Jabez hit the shelves. But if Jabez encourages you to enlarge your horizon to do great things for God, The Dream Giver (Multnomah Publishers, 2003) deals with the thoughts and other obstacles that keep you from attaining those great things. Wilkinson even says in his introduction, “Every Dreamer soon learns that the road to the future you really want is clogged with Dream-threatening obstacles.”

As you begin to read The Dream Giver, you’ll quickly find yourself thinking of a Christian Version of "The Secret." In. The Dream Giver, the hero is someone named Ordinary, who, as the name suggests, is an average man or woman of the Christian faith, living in the land of Familiar or Comfortable. This, of course, represents the comfort zone that most of us build around ourselves. Familiar is populated by Nobodies, people who don’t “generally expect the unexpected” and don't want to rock the boat or stray far from the norm.

Now Ordinary has a conversation with the Dream Giver, which sends him on a journey – to follow his dream, his true passion in life. Yes, says the Dream Giver, believe that the Dream is from Me, and follow it where it takes you. Ordinary likes the idea that instead of being a Nobody, he can become a Somebody. But there are hurdles to cross.

The very first hurdle is to actually believe that the Dream Giver gives the innermost desires. Did Ordinary really have a Big Dream from the Dream Giver? Or was it too much Merlot last night? Interestingly, it was his father who gave Ordinary that little impetus to follow his Dream.

If getting courage to follow a Dream is not hard enough to overcome, then our own comfort zone can be the next hurdle to accomplishing our Dream. Many people suffer from the RTC factor – resistant to change. We love to think we welcome change, but try to move us too far away from that which we’ve become accustomed to and you’ll see how much change you enjoy.

The Journey Begins

The author’s parable takes Ordinary from the Comfort Zone of Familiar to the unknown territory of Borderland. Slowly, Ordinary overcomes the fear of the unknown and steps forward. And, surprisingly to him, the unknown is not as bad as it was imagined.

Before he finally leaves the Comfort Zone, however, Ordinary must deal with the hurdle of family and friends. These people ought to be his closest allies, but instead they become a big obstacle in a journey that will continue the rest of his life. First, his mother challenges his Big Dream. This is a familiar pattern for many, since many mothers and wives with their “nesting” qualities don’t always appreciate the steps (they call them “risks”) to achieving a Big Dream. Then there are wider family members who might deter you from your Dreams.

But just as there are those who discourage, so it is possible to find others who have successfully left Familiar and followed their Dream. It’s interesting that the author indicates that we need friends if we are to achieve our Big Dream, those who will support us in the quest of what appears to be Uncertainty.

Now the problem with a parable of this nature is that it touches home. How many times have you experienced this kind of response from parents and close friends – possibly even from your wife or husband? “You can’t do that. It’s too risky.” Or, “how on earth did you ever get the idea that you could do that?”

For some reason, it’s easy for the “power of negative thinking” to take hold of those close to you. If you’re not careful, you begin to doubt not only that you have a Dream, but also that the Dream Giver planted it in you.

When the Going Gets Tough…

If following a Big Dream were easy, we would not need books such as this to help us on our way. And Wilkinson is aware there can be years in the Wasteland, the next hurdle to achieving a Dream. In the reality of life, following a Dream can be frustrating, appear to be a waste of time, and burdened with difficulties. The Dream Giver appears nowhere to be found, and Ordinary thinks he’s abandoned. This is the Wasteland.

At this stage, the author introduces us to Faith – sent by the Dream Giver to help. The first thing Ordinary asks is that he be given the directions back to Familiar. But Faith cannot help him. “’That figures,’ [says] Ordinary. ‘The Dream Giver sends me a helper who can’t even help.’”

How many of us, when our Dreams seem shattered, react like Ordinary? Whose fault is it we’re in the Wasteland and nothing appears to be going right? We do not like to find fault with ourselves. And we certainly do not entertain easily the idea that maybe we need this Wasteland to help our character develop the way the Dream Giver thinks is necessary. So we blame the Dream Giver for our difficulties, rail at him for his apparent withdrawal from us, and like Ordinary, we want to turn back from following our Dream.

Ordinary, fortunately, follows Faith, finds Sanctuary and a renewed dialogue with the Dream Giver, and is encouraged to move forward. But he can achieve this only if he surrenders his Big Dream to the Dream Giver. Which he does, only to find that his Big Dream comes back to him larger than before. Surrendering your Big Dream to the Dream Giver is the only way to make sure that the Dream itself comes from the Dream Giver.

The Obstacles Grow, But So Does Hope

Encouraged to move ahead, Ordinary soon finds himself confronted by the Land of the Giants. By now, Ordinary has met other Dreamers, and encouraged by their stories and encouragement learns that he can do battle with Giants of all kinds.

But he also meets the Wounded Warrior who, surprisingly, shares the same Big Dream. The Wounded Warrior, however, is dying on the field of battle, her Big Dream never quite realized. But she helps Ordinary see that sometimes a Big Dream is bigger than a single person. She dies on the battlefield to help Ordinary get further than he might otherwise. These are the people who prepare the ground for our Big Dream, and make it possible for us to move further ahead than those who have gone before.

Ordinary also realizes, however, that for the Wounded Warrior, death on the battlefield was her Big Dream. He senses that Big Dreams can take more than one person and more than one lifetime, an important lesson many need to learn.

Prepare for Battle

Here in the Land of the Giants, however, Ordinary meets the Anybodies. They come from the City of Anybodies, where a Giant of Darkness holds them in captivity and oppresses them from his stronghold at the gates. No one can leave or enter. The Anybodies do not believe in the Dream Giver, but Ordinary hears the Dream Giver’s instruction: “Prepare for Battle.” Now he’s told to put down his weapons and do battle with the Giant of Darkness. In the name of the Dream Giver, Ordinary overcomes the Giant, resulting in the Anybodies singing praises to the Dream Giver.

Now Ordinary is ready for the Promised Land. As he walked through the Anybodies’ city, he heard the Dream Giver say, “What do you see?”

Ordinary saw what the Dream Giver wanted him to see. “‘I see beautiful Anybodies in great need,’ he said.”

And he saw something else: the Name of his Dream carved on the inside of the gate of the city of Anybodies. Ordinary had arrived. This was his Dream.

In this fascinating parable, Bruce Wilkinson not only takes us on a journey of following a Big Dream, but at the same time seems to lay down a challenge. We do not find out until the end of the parable exactly what Ordinary’s Dream really is – helping those less fortunate. This is certainly the journey of the author himself, whose recent work in Africa helping the less fortunate has been an inspiration and testimony to the power of God.

But is this the Big Dream that all of us share? What of those who dream of being artists, doctors, mechanics, lawyers, housewives and mothers? Are these valid dreams? Certainly the story of Ordinary applies to many who have never made it to Africa, yet who equally struggle in the Wasteland or the Land of Giants trying to fulfill their Big Dream.

Time to Dream Big

The Parable takes only the first part of the book. The second part is the Parable applied. As the author says, “the good news for every Dreamer is that each stage or obstacle along our journey is intended not to block our dream, but to help us break through to the fulfillment God promises.”

Wilkinson believes that each person has a Dream, but they do not always pursue it. No wonder there’s so much unhappiness in a country such as America where people are abundantly blessed with economic prosperity. For many, they work at the job to pay down the mortgage, put bread and butter on the table, educate the children, and provide for old age.

But deep within each one of us there’s often that “other man or woman” who wishes we were doing something else. Time and circumstance do not always permit us to follow our Dream, and I think the author is aware of this. That is why he wrote the book.

But he also wrote the book to encourage you in the journey of life. He wants you to look inside and find the Dream that has been planted there by the Dream Giver. Then follow the Dream wherever it leads. But don’t be surprised if it lands you in the Promised Land. It’s there you’ll find Anybodies who need help and encouragement so that they too can follow what appears to be “the impossible dream.”

Whether your goal is to be a musician or a missionary, a politician or a preacher, a banker or a businessman, this book will encourage you. If you haven’t started on your Big Dream, this book will challenge you to move forward. And if you’re struggling in the Wasteland and battling Giants of all kinds, this book is a timely reminder that you should not give up just yet. The Dream Giver is using those circumstances to make you into the kind of person he wants you to be.

But perhaps most of all, The Dream Giver challenges you to discover that at the end of the day, your Dream has a wider purpose than just your own personal achievement or satisfaction. The needs of others less privileged than you make such selfish aims appear callous.

And after reading this book, you’ll have no choice but to move forward.

I highly recommend this read or if you are short of time like me, buy the DVD which is great to watch and is in 30 minute increments. 

Lance

-Esse Quam Videri-