You may recall my previous post, wherein I told the stories of a young mother who successfully built a business and a young father who spent his extra hours earning money for his boy’s college fund.
Inspiring stories like these move us to do the same. We’re motivated by the popular slogan printed on many a T shirt, Follow Your Dreams.
Doesn’t this notion appeal to the spirit of American independence? Don’t we love the idea of leaving our day jobs to be our own bosses? Don’t we long for financial security (never mind that it’s an oxymoron)?
Here’s the thing: followers of Jesus can’t do what everyone else does and just paste a Christian label on it.
Even when it comes to pursuing our dreams.
I’m not suggesting that our dreams are necessarily ungodly. Many dreams are God-given. In particular, I’m thinking of ministry dreams.
God gives us vision for the things he has gifted and called us to accomplish for his kingdom’s sake. We often encourage each other to pursue these dreams.
What’s your passion? Pursue your purpose. Don’t give up on your vision!
However, given our human penchant to become obsessed with the gift more than with the Giver, here’s where we must exercise caution:
Just because we have a dream doesn’t mean it’s God’s dream for us.
Sometimes it is, and God gives us a green light. Sometimes he gives us the yellow light of “maybe” or “wait.” Other times, the light is red and answer is no.
Remember how God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1-18)? We all know the happy ending –but don’t skip to that part.
Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. Imagine how bewildered and devastated he was when God asked him to lay his son on the altar.
Only pagan gods require such things! What about the promise to multiply my offspring through Isaac? He’s my miracle. Why would God ask this of me? Maybe I heard wrong.
But Abraham made a choice to obey God, even though his command made no sense. He laid the boy on the altar and poised the knife above him.
Only then did the angel of the Lord stop Abraham and provide a ram to serve as a sacrifice instead.
Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us insight as to what Abraham was thinking. Surely God must be planning on resurrecting Isaac. In any case, I’ll do as he commands.
Wow. Abraham refused to let his dream – his miracle, his beloved son – become more important to him than God. He didn’t let his dream become an idol.
Abraham’s steadfast obedience and trust begs a question.
Does God have the final word on my dreams?
In Whatever the Cost, David and Jason Benham write:
“Dying to our dreams is only possible when we focus on the Person of God and not the purposes, promises or platforms He gives us. By focusing on the Person, we sit loose as to how, when, and where His purposes, promises or platforms are given or taken from us. This gives us the ability to live powerfully for God, especially through trials.”
This truth is not easy to hear, but it liberates us. It keeps us from confusing what we do for God with who he is.
Maybe your dream is God’s dream for you right now. Maybe it will be at some point down the road.
Or maybe God is asking you to lay it down and let it die.
As Americans, we are driven by a strong work ethic. For us ministry-motivated, purpose-pursuing, vision-oriented Christians, the issue is probably not whether we are willing to work hard enough to achieve our dream.
The issue is, which is more important to us –the dream itself, or loving and obeying the Dream-giver?