Your where comes before your what.
In other words, moving forward with an idea will help you know what to do next. Sometimes we try to wait until we know every detail until we move forward on a dream. But it doesn’t work like that. It’s often impossible to know everything that we will encounter along the way.
Like generals looking down from mountains, we have to sometimes change our position to gain insight on our strategy.
When we get an idea or a vision, it’s all fun and games until we try to see it through. I can get caught up in things that either don’t matter at all or don’t matter yet. Getting the vision in order makes a huge difference. And teamwork helps.
Your where comes before your what.
The other day I went shopping with my friend.
We used to have a great thrift shop in our town, but when I went to the old location, it was gone. There were no signs directing customers to a new location, so I assumed they had gone out of business.
When we pulled out of the parking lot, my friend pointed and said, “There it is!”
“Where?” I said, looking everywhere.
“Right there! Across the street! Don’t you see the sign?”
I looked across the street. I could only see the old sign directing traffic to the old location.
I said, “Oh yes, I see it. But that’s the old sign. I think they must have closed.”
“No,” she said, “across the street! With a huge red and white banner that says, ‘Now Open!'”
“Um, I see the sign? But I don’t see a red and white banner?”
I looked sideways at her. “Lord,” I prayed silently, “is she having some kind of vision? What are you trying to say?”
“Are you messing with me?” I laughed. I could only see the old sign from before.
“No!!” She laughed and looked at me like I was crazy. “A huge red and white sign? You seriously don’t see that?!?”
The light turned green, and I pulled out in traffic and looked all around. As I moved forward, I was able to take in more of my surroundings, and, finally, I saw it. Across the street. A huge new sign declaring the name of the store and the fact that it was NOW OPEN!
A car lot had used that building before. It never occurred to me to look there, even when my friend was pointing right at it. I thought I knew what was going to be there. I expected to see a car lot. So much so, that I could not see the new thing that had come in, even though I was looking.
What made the difference?
Moving forward. And moving forward with someone who saw it with fresh eyes and brought a different perspective.
Sitting where I was, I could not see the sign. But the light in front of me turned green, and I had to do something.
It was when I moved forward that I was able to take in a more accurate view of my surroundings. And because of my friend, I knew where to look.
What made the difference?
Lately God has been sending me this message in a lot of ways.
Since I moved into my house, I have wanted to plant a secret garden to the side of my porch, but I have been a little overwhelmed by landscaping. It’s all so big, and the sky is literally the limit.
I start obsessing about plants.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my sister to come over and look at the space with me again. It occurred to me that, if I knew where I wanted to put the garden, it would help me choose the plants. My sister and I walked out to a spot in the yard and turned around and looked. In my mind I was envisioning all kinds of plants, rose arbors, pencil hollies, big grasses.
I started getting overwhelmed. Started thinking about calling landscapers.
“I can’t tell what I need to do,” I thought, “because I’m not standing in the right place.” I felt too close to the patio. I needed to be farther into the yard and more at an angle.
We went back to the porch and dragged some chairs out in the yard. That was better.
We moved the chairs again. And one more time.
Aha! There. That’s where it needs to be.
First things first.
When I tried to plan it before, I had it backwards. I sat on the patio obsessing about plants, when what I needed to do was step out into the yard and plan the foundation. I needed to stop thinking about it and mulling it over and over. I needed to stand up and move forward.
I needed to do something.
Imagining possibilities energizes us. Dreams and visions delight our minds.
But there are a few things that can derail these dreams before they ever get going.
Three Things that Can Derail Your Dreams and What to Do Instead
1. “Mulling” ideas over and over. It’s good to give our plans some thought, but, that word. Mulling. It comes from the process of mulling cider, to heat and sweeten a drink. But we are not a cider. Too much mulling makes us weak, stagnant and depressed. Like a flabby orange peel boiled too long. Stop mulling already, and do something.
2. Too many details. Instead of focusing on all the details at once, which can be overwhelming and discouraging, just start with your where. When I needed to do my garden, I had to know where to put it before any other planning would make sense. Whether you are planning a garden, or building a house, or a website, or a business out of your home, you have to have a location before anything else can fall into place. Even if you just start with putting all your plans in a notebook. Your dream needs a where. It needs a physical place to live and grow. You know the saying, “You have to start somewhere”? It doesn’t say “You have to start somewhat or someone.” It says somewhere.
3. Doing everything alone. It helps to have a who. But it can’t just be any who. I had a book when I was very young called “Whobody There?” It described the contrast between the safe people who get you and the cold and indifferent people who don’t. Your who needs to be a whobody. Don’t share your dreams, and especially your insecurities or questions about your dreams, with anybody but a whobody. But find a whobody, an encouraging friend who believes in you and will help you see your where when you get bogged down in details. And, your best whobody is the Holy Spirit. Ask Him along the way, “What’s next? Where do I need to look? Where do I need to move?” He will show you.
Dreaming brings vision, but it is action that brings vision into reality.
What dreams are you holding onto in your heart? What visions do you have for your life? Where are you stuck?
Write down the dream. Write down the vision. Write down the top three places where you are stuck and want to move forward. Pray, and ask God, “What’s the first thing I need to do to move forward toward this vision?”
You may hear something very clear. You may see exactly what you need to do next. Or it may be fuzzy. Like my friend pointing to a sign right in front of me–I had to move forward to see it.
You may have to start on the project, just start. Move forward in some small way to better see your surroundings. You can’t know what you’re dealing with until you deal with it.
Pray, and ask God, “What’s the first thing I need to do to move forward toward this vision?”
Like my garden, I had to step out. I had to actually get out there and start moving chairs. It was very unclear when I started, but the more I walked into it, the more I could see what needed to happen next. Now that I know the location, I know that I need to go pick out paving stones to create the space. I was obsessing about how hard it would be to choose plants, when I hadn’t even laid the foundation yet. And I can already tell that choosing the plants is going to be much more obvious once I get the stones in place.
One thing at a time. First things first. Move forward.
Now, you can see it.
Father, thank you for the dreams and visions that make life exciting every day. Thank you for the direction and the confidence and peace we find in You that help us move forward. pray for the where that births the what. I pray for the whobodies to come alongside and offer perspective and encouragement. I pray for Your people to step out toward their goals, one little step today toward the calling and the blessings You have for them. I pray for the willingness to take a little risk, to shoot for the moon, to try, try again. For resilience and for steadfastness. For forward movement in all things that You have planned. Starting now. In Jesus.