Romans 15:17-29 NIV - Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” 22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.
Paul had an ambition, a plan, a dream to preach in Spain and to make disciples in a land where Christ was unknown. From the best historical accounts, Paul never made it to Spain. The Book of Romans is such a complete and powerful presentation of Christianity that the inspiration of God’s Spirit working through Paul’s letter to Romans is clear. In this amazing Scripture, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write about an ambition to go to Spain and preach - a dream that God knew Paul would not accomplish!
When we ask in fear, “But what if the dream is never achieved?”, remember - sometimes God is still ok with you giving voice to those big, God-honoring dreams. It doesn’t make you a false prophet. It doesn’t make you unspiritual. It just means that God is not bound to make your individual ambitions and dreams happen. Better to pursue the big dream and miss than to refuse to dream for fear of failure. Romans 15 should encourage you because even the great Apostle Paul shared a dream of his that didn’t happen. But God did use missionaries to reach Spain with the Gospel. Did any of those early missionaries to Spain draw inspiration or motivation from Paul’s words in Romans 15? Did they determine to make Paul’s dream become a reality? Who might you inspire to achieve the big dream even if you don’t?
But because Paul had God-sized dreams and ambitions, he succeeded in his overall purpose even when every dream of his didn’t come to pass. It is much easier to see success occur in our lives when we pursue big dreams (which may not all happen) than when we are simply afraid to pursue the dream at all.
Aside from obeying clear Scriptures, heeding wise counsel, and consistent prayer, how else should we think about pursuing our dreams, desires, and ambitions in ways that honor God and serve others? What preparations do you need to immediately begin to make to achieve big dreams that honor God and bless others?
Which do you think we may regret more at the end of our days: (a) pursuing a big, God-honoring dream that we may not fully achieve, or (b) refusing to pursue our big, God-honoring dream - fearing failure or ridicule? What if the dream isn’t achieved? To better answer that question… “So what if it isn’t? But what if it is?” Better to pursue the big dream that perhaps doesn’t happen as planned (but leads to success elsewhere) than to one day regret having not pursued the dream at all. Dream big, with God.
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!’” — John Greenleaf Whittier