What are the dreams you have for you life?
We all have dreams for our families, jobs, friendships, trips, houses, or health. Why do we dream the dreams that we do?
One of the things that influences our dreams are the expectations we have on what will make us happy. We expect that a romantic relationship will make us happy so we dream of having the perfect girlfriend. We expect that traveling to exotic locations will make us happy, so we plan the perfect trip. We expect the having a job filled with significance will make us happy, so we take out loans so we can get the education that we need. Expectations often fuel the dreams that we have.
Many of us have been alive long enough to know that our dreams often go through drastic changes. Sometimes reality hits and we realize that we do not have what it takes to achieve our dreams, like when I realized that I did not possess the talent needed to play in the NBA. Other times circumstances in life rob us of our dreams, like when a sickness robs us of a person we love. Dreams are very fragile things.
On the one hand this isn’t a terrible thing. The dreams we had when we were younger were often filled with unrealistic expectations. If we achieved those dreams our lives may have turned out for the worse rather than the better. I can’t imagining living the life of a NBA star. I am not sure I would have been able to maintain a faithful walk in the face of the temptation they face. If I had married my first crush, I doubt that it would have turned out as the fairy tale I had imagined, and I would have missed out on marrying the girl of my dreams. As we mature we recognize that it is not a horrible thing that many of our dreams go unfulfilled.
Yet on the other hand it is tough for us to realize how fragile our dreams are. The single person might begin to believe that the one thing which will make their life truly happy is to be married. Their singleness keeps them from experiencing joy in their current situation. Or a person might believe a certain job, achievement, or possession is essential for their happiness. They develop a resentment towards people who seem have more success than they have. When life becomes difficult and our dreams for a happy life are shattered, our hearts break.
How do we respond when life doesn't turn out like our dreams? Often we will shake our fist towards the heavens and shout; “Don’t You care about my happiness? I thought You loved me!” More often than not God’s answers us with silence. We pray and pray and pray and God remains unresponsive.
According to the Bible God does care about us. 1 Peter 5:6, 7 reads:
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT)
This truth provides us with a troubling dilemma. Either the Bible is lying and God doesn’t care about us or we are blowing it. What other explanation is there for God not helping us live the life of our dreams?
I am convinced that God does care for us. How do I respond to this dilemma? I think one of the crucial things we can do is lay aside our dreams and examine our hopes. We need to know what God has promised to those who follow Jesus. In the Bible we discover that what God wants from our lives and the dreams that we have for our lives do not always line up.
We dream of being served, and God desires that we serve. We dream of winning the lottery, and God desires that we give sacrificially. We dream of being recognized as important, and God desires that we live with humility. The reality is that in order to discover the life God has for us then our dreams for life need to shatter. As painful as this can be it is the only way we will accept God's desires for our lives.
Until our dreams are shattered and we wake up to God’s desire for our lives, we will always put more effort into achieving what we think will make us happy rather than into what will make us holy. God’s ultimate desire for our lives is that we become holy. Consider what James wrote:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4; NLT)
James says that the troubles and trials of life are the first step in becoming mature and complete: the people God created us to be. When we are distracted by our dreams we can never become the people God created us to be. God allows our dreams to shatter so we will wake-up to the reality that He has a totally different life for us to live. If we never re-adjust our focus we will always live the life of holiness God created us to live.