This is the fourth installment in my updated Notes to Aspiring Writers series. If you missed the first three articles, be sure to go back and read them? My Book Story When God Says No The Comparison Game
- "You can do anything you set your mind to ... "
- "Surround yourself with positive people ... "
- "Don't allow people to tell you you can't do something ... "
- "Reach for your dreams ... "
When we're feeling down, useless or depressed, we’re invigorated by words of affirmation. They help us stay the course, keep the goal in sight, and remember what we're after in life: our dreams. And dreams give us something to look forward to, something to work toward.
But are our dreams always the same as God's plans?
I had believed that writing a traditionally published book was my life's mission. A way for the Lord to pull together everything He had taught me, to weave together the patches of my life: the ones that matched and the ones that didn't.
And maybe it is my life's mission, or at least part of it, but with that first book—the one I just knew God had been preparing me to write—God said no. At least "not yet," or "not in the way you might think." I didn't like it at first...didn't even pretend to want to understand why God wouldn't allow my dream. In fact, I looked around me and saw everyone else succeeding, and instead of being happy for them, I got mad at God.
Ever been there?
It's not easy watching everyone else around you hitting home runs when your efforts barely get you to first base—at least it's not when your heart is in the wrong place. And mine was.
A Different Path
Nineteen years of education, a BS and an MA, yet most days find me wiping noses, kissing booboos, and holding little hearts in the palm of my hand. In the midst of an unusually tough day the thoughts come to me: how did I get from there to here?
It's the warmer weather that reminds me of the freedom I felt in those days as I traveled to grad school with the windows down. My long hair blew in the breeze, whipping its way across my face and making me feel like I could do anything. Be anything. The whole world was ahead of me. My family believed in me, my boyfriend (now husband) cherished me, and I felt good about who God was creating from the garbled ingredients that were my life.
I had made plenty of mistakes along the way, but was about a year into a new, fuller, more complete, passionate walk with Christ. Filled with hope for the future, Crystal Lewis and I belted out "I will go wherever You lead, be light in the dark and be salt in the street" while I drove to class, and I knew I could do or be anything God wanted.
But I never banked on Him asking me to lay down my dreams.
I had defined success as capturing these dreams of mine. To teach women, share His Truth, and help them embrace it, live it and love it with everything they have. I wanted to spend my life in ministry for God. But as with most things, God's definition of success is a little different—laced with giving up, laying down, striving, and spending of a very different kind.
On what are we spent?
When we boil away everything else, and get down to the very heart of man's purpose here on earth, it's this: "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
Our lives were designed not to do ministry for God, but to bring glory to God. <-----Tweet that.
It's a subtle difference in words that's ripe with meaning. When I was hanging out in my car with Crystal Lewis, belting out my willingness to go anywhere, or do anything for my Savior, I was focused more on my purpose than His. My joy and willingness to serve were brought on more by the potential adventure my salvation could bring me than they were in just being in fellowship with God.
I was enjoying me, not Him.
My successes, my potential, my adventure of faith. I spent a lot of time thinking and dreaming about me, and very little time enjoying God just for Who He is. I was enjoying the potential of what a relationship with God could do for me, not enjoying my relationship with God. And while my love for God was real, and my heart to serve Him genuine, I was missing the fullness of what it means to bring glory to God through my life.
We humans, we're all about the doing. We want a plan—light's! Camera! Action! We want to know what we're supposed to do so we can pour all of energy into doing it well. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to serve God well, but in the end, I think He wants His greatness, His power, His majesty and holiness and the gift of salvation, to be enough no matter where we find ourselves on the path to our dreams. He just wants us to know Him well, and in response, worship Him with our lives, no matter what we're doing.
- If God calls us to a grand adventure that features wiping snotty noses, and changing dirty diapers before He allows us to write, will the gift of our salvation be enough?
- If God calls us to be a small blogger, feeding just a few through our words, and empowering them to live closer to God, will the gift of God's presence in our sin-filled life be enough?
- If God calls us to be a no name author, never having a NYTimes Best-Seller, never enjoying the stage, or having the spotlight on us, will the joy of just knowing Him be enough?
Questions to think through as we're processing this writing life.
Can you relate to the idea that humans tend to be consumed with wanting action? How does your need for a plan—something you can aspire to and work towards—affect your ability to enjoy God? If you're reading this in an email, click over and join us in the comments.
You're joining me today in the middle of a series called Notes to Aspiring Writers: Your Dream, God's Plan. Come back for more next Tuesday.