Dreaming His Dreams
Several weeks ago, I stumbled across a yellow legal pad that has been at the center of those meetings. On it, we’ve chronicled our goals for the past eleven years. On it, we’ve strategized and organized and neatly categorized them into 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans. Some have been eerily prophetic; others, hilariously naïve. Our first year's goals included eventually owning “forty acres of land” (because as my father-in-law says, “They’re not making any more of it.”) and having “a couple kids.” Today, we own ½ acre and don’t “have kids” but we are a family that includes three marvelously creative and unique individuals, none of whom I could have imagined ten years ago.
Looking over that legal pad reminded me of two things--- 1) how foolish we are to think we can plan our own paths 2) how kind and wise God is to give us dreams that He wants to fulfill
I grew up in a church tradition that, while perhaps unintentionally, was often suspicious of personal dreams and ambition. We had just two choices on the shelf, after all—pleasing God or pleasing self. And while I don’t really believe it was intended to be that simplistic, to an impressionable teenager, this often presented itself as the need to choose between doing what God wanted and doing what I loved. What no one seemed to clarify was that a life well-lived would undoubtedly involve both.
My parents believed in dreams though. And they believed in Providence--the kind of Providence that made each of their five children unique and would ultimately lead each to very different callings from finance to design to music. They never pressed the false dichotomy that I felt but instead taught us that all of life was to be lived with joy and faith, all of life was to be lived for His glory regardless of what we ended up doing. Still I don’t think it really sunk in for me until adulthood. I remember privately agonizing through high school, desperate to prove to God and myself that I would follow “His will” if only He would reveal it to me.
All the while never realizing that He already had and I already was.
In fact, as I look back, I realize that I was doing His will every time I followed in obedience, every time I loved another person, every time I longed to see His glory. I also realize that I was doing His will every time I sat down to write, every time I read and reread books that stretched my thinking, every time I reveled in and pursued the dreams that He had already placed inside of me.
Eighteen months ago, I began blogging, in part to finally prove or disprove this theory. I wanted to fully commit myself to a dream in order to see what He would do with it. I guess, in a way, I wanted to put my big toe in the Jordan to see if the waters would part. To that point, I had been writing bits and pieces but only as a hobby. I think it was my way of not having to commit, a way of inoculating myself from disappointment. What if my dreams weren’t God’s dreams for me? What if I failed? I would just play it safe; and while that meant that I may never know what God could have done, I would also never have to face the possibility of seeing my dreams crushed.
But I soon found that I couldn’t play it safe. Every article I wrote and every query I sent flamed the passion that was burning inside of me. And slowly I realized that God Himself was the one nurturing and cultivating my dreams. He faithfully sent the right people to encourage me and faithfully sent the right rejections to keep me in my place; until one day, He finally gave me the courage to accept that as much as I loved writing, He loved me writing as well.
Back to the yellow legal pad. One of those silly goals that my husband and I wrote down over ten years ago was that I would write a book. Shortly before Christmas, in large part due to blogging, I signed a contract with Moody Publishers to write that book. I signed a contract that will enable me to do what I love at the same time that it will serve His people on a broader scale. I signed a contract that will enable my thoughts to be embodied in paper and ink and type and give me a chance to truly earn the appellation of “writer.”
I am humbled. I am grateful. I am scared. And I have never before so strongly believed in Providence.
The next several months of writing will probably be similar to the last several years—I expect to wrestle through fears, doubt, and discouragement, to swing from heights of elation to depths of despair. And while I have plenty more that I want to share about this unbelievable opportunity, at this point, I just want to sit in awe. To publicly acknowledge the kindness and wisdom of God and to remind myself that the God who gives dreams doesn’t abandon His children in the middle of them.
Each of us has different dreams; and each of our yellow legal pads should have different goals on them because He was made us distinct. Writing may not be your passion, but it is essential that you pursue whatever is. It is essential that you surrender not only to what you love but to the fact that God wants to use what you love for His kingdom. It may not end up being your profession, but it will be your calling. It will be something that only you can do--something that only you can contribute.
So this year--in this brave new world of 2013--find what you love to do, surrender to His hand, and know that a kind, sovereign God put those dreams inside of you in the first place. And because He has, this same kind, sovereign God will, in His own way and in His own time, bring them to pass. Not simply for your joy, but for the joy of His people, and I’m convinced, for His own joy—for His own secret delight in watching His sons and daughters become all that He has created them to be.
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