It is very easy to become jaded and hard hearted on the journey to live out the calling God has placed on our hearts. Even though this shouldn’t come as a surprise to us since we live in a sin corrupted world with an enemy poised against us.
I am sure all of us can remember times when the circumstances of life turned sour, when our dreams were shattered, and our hopes were dashed. The result of this reality is that we give up on our dreams thinking that this is as good as life gets. We end up telling ourselves, “Life is tough and we just have to deal with it.”
In his book Wide Awake, Erwin McManus tackles this common experience by reminding us that much of success depends on our outlook:
If you’re going to create the life of your dreams, you’re going to face a lot of failure, difficulty, and obstacles. You’re going to be informed by the world around you that you cannot accomplish what you are setting out to do or become the person you long to become. You will be told it is impossible to accomplish the goals you long to achieve, to create the life of your dreams.
One of the most important characteristics of people who achieve the extraordinary is they live a life of expectation–they expect the good to happen; they internalize optimism (p. 92).
The reason we can live with optimism is because we are connected to the Creator of the Universe. Since God created everything we can see and touch out of nothing and because He resurrected Jesus from the dead then we can know there is no limit to God’s power. We should live our lives in confidence and optimism because of the mighty God we worship.
Part of the foundation of a life of optimism is the hope of New Creation. When we have a belief that one day God, through Christ Jesus, will make everything right, then we are have a great hope for the future.
This hope provides motivation to do our part to make the future a present reality.
To create the life of your dreams, you have to lean forward. You have to expect, to believe, to live a life that could actually be described as a life of faith. You must live a life that presses into the future. (Erwin McManus, Wide Awake, p. 97)
Our willingness to lean into the future reveals what we truly believe about what God is doing in the world. By seeking to build for God’s Kingdom now and anticipating the New Creation promised by the resurrection of Jesus, we are proclaiming that God is a Promise Keeper and can be trusted to do what is right. It truly is what a life of faith is all about.
Erwin McManus nails it with this:
Faith is about confidence in God’s character, that he is good and true and beautiful. There are many things that are uncertain to us, but we know that God is good, that he can. He can be trusted with our lives, and that we should live our lives in pursuit of the future he paints for us–a picture of a better world he promised would come to pass if we would live as if it were our destiny. (Wide Awake, p. 103)
I think this brings us to two very important questions that we need to ask ourselves:
- What type of future is God creating?
- What is my part in making this future a reality?
The importance of these two questions is that they will help us discern which dreams are the most important to follow. Few things in life are as defeating as the realization that we have put time and effort into something that has little value. We need to be sure what we do and how we use our time is valuable.
Now comes the thought that none of like to hear and that is the idea of sacrifice. Erwin writes:
“I wonder if for many of us, the only thing stopping us from living the life God created us to live–the life of our dreams–is to let go of a life so good that it betrays the great. Are we willing to give up all the things we have right now to be able to obtain that which God longs for us tomorrow?” (Wide Awake, p. 106)
It is a scary thing to give up what we know, especially when it is good, and take a risk on the unknown. Reality dictates that until we leave the place that is comfortable we cannot experience a different place. Too often we let the good things of our life, our present blessings, hold us back from the great things God has for us in the future. We need to trust God and expect that He will bless our lives as we seek to create the future He wants us to enjoy.
It is very likely that the life God has given you as a gift today is the very thing he will ask of you as a sacrifice tomorrow. (p. 108)
While we long to make a difference and do something great, the story of history is that our contribution to the world will be overlooked by the history books. Even worse than being overlooked is knowing that might be fail, that all our efforts and our trust in God might end with no apparent change taking place in the world.
Hebrews chapter 11 is a good reminder for us. There we find a list of all these people who have done great things for God’s Kingdom. Then at the end of the chapter we read of the people who died anonymously for the kingdom. They lived in hope and faith, but they met a tragic end. That is why this reminder is so important:
God is not limited to your success or failure. God is glorified when you simply live your life for the right things, whether you succeed or fail. (Wide Awake, p. 113).
Ultimately this is our hope. It is the answer to the first line of the Lord’s Prayer; “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. ” A life of faith will always bring glory to God, and that should give us hope, especially when things don’t turn out like planned.
To live wide awake is not about finding a way around the suffering or difficulties of life. It is stepping into the life God has for you. (Wide Awake, p. 115)