All of us have dreams for our lives—aspirations to do something great or become someone worthwhile. When shaped by the purposes of God, dreams guide us to meaningful living.

Abraham had a dream—two dreams, in fact—and both were God-given. Old and childless in a culture of large families, he dreamed of having a son (Genesis 11:30, Genesis 15:3). God promised that this dream would come true and added one more. Not only would Abraham have a son, he would have a nation (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 15:5, Genesis 17:5). Two big dreams indeed!

And that’s one reason we find Genesis 22 so baffling. Isaac is born—the fulfillment of the first dream and a glimpse of the second (Genesis 21:1-3)—and Abraham is called to sacrifice him! (Genesis 22:2). God was asking to have back what He had given. Abraham was to give up both his fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams.

The preparation would have been agonizing. Abraham gathered his son, servants, and supplies, and walked for days to the sacrifice site where he laid what was most precious to him on the altar (Genesis 22:3-9). And just as the knife was poised to plunge, God intervened and gave Abraham back his dreams (Genesis 22:11-14). Abraham learned two important lessons that day: The true God is not like the gods around him who reveled in child sacrifice, and nothing—not even a God-given dream—comes before Him.

Have you given your dreams to God—both the fulfilled ones and the unfulfilled? It’s the only way to ensure that our dreams are under His hand, and that they don’t become gods themselves. As He did with Abraham, God may well give your dreams back to you or give them back in a new form.

But whatever He does with your dreams, you can be sure it will come accompanied by a blessing (Genesis 22:15-18).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Samuel 17:1-31