Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The Death of a Dream
What do you do when dreams die?
As a young person, I was a dreamer. I had big dreams for my life. Visions of doing what I loved and being successful at it. Hopes of making a difference in the world. Dreams of making my mark in history. I wanted to do something big. Something impressive. Something revolutionary.
As I got older, I realized that there was no way I could possibly fulfill all the dreams that I had. I couldn't be a writer/singer/songwriter/actress/public speaker/teacher/artist/chef/lawyer/decorator/musician. It would be absurd to try to do so many different things. Some dreams had to die. I had to sacrifice some dreams to be able to pursue others. It was a painful, but necessary process.
Eventually I got to the point where I began seeking God for His dreams, rather than my own. I realized that the pursuit of my dreams could bring temporary fulfillment, but unless I was pursuing God's dream for my life, I would always be lacking something. So I prayed. I fasted. I sought after God. And He gave me a dream. The dream of being in full-time ministry and using my passion for the arts to glorify Him and minister to others. I saw myself ministering to countless people, traveling the world, and making an eternal difference. It was a big dream. Something that was bigger than myself. But I believed if God gave it to me, then it could happen.
So Derick and I started on our journey of ministry together, and God began giving me small glimpses of that dream becoming reality. But God began stirring something else inside of me- the dream of a family. The desire to have children and be a mother. My dreams of full-time ministry began to give way to the dream of family. And once again, I had to sacrifice some dreams to be able to pursue motherhood. Again, it was a painful, but necessary process.
As we started our family, I continued to be as involved in ministry as I could while still giving attention to my children. Some dreams- many dreams- were put on hold. There would be days when I was completely content with my place in life at that moment, and some days when I mourned the death of my youthful dreams. But I held onto the promises and dreams God had given me, and believed that in His time, all things would be fulfilled.
Time has passed, and recently we found ourselves watching another dream die- the dream that God had given us for our ministry in Albany. There were many wonderful things that we were able to be a part of in our time there, but it was still painful to realize that our time there was over, and we had to move on. The dream that had driven our ministry had to die. Painful, but necessary.
Now we find ourselves in a new place, with new possibilities, and I am starting to have a new outlook on life, dreams, and timing. Sometimes I've wondered, why would God give me a dream, only to watch it die? How could he birth something in my spirit and then expect me to be ok with abandoning that dream for something else? Or would God even do that?
I believe He would, and He does. I am reminded of the story of Abraham. God had given Him a dream. He was promised to have a son, despite his old age. And not just a son, but to have descendants that would outnumber the stars. That is a pretty incredible dream. I'm sure Abraham dealt with many of the emotions we deal with when God gives us an impossible dream: excitement, confusion, doubt, anticipation, anxiety, etc. I bet he had days when he knew without a doubt that this dream would become reality. And then he probably had days when he wondered if he had even heard from God at all, or if he had just conjured up the whole thing. But it was God. And God kept his promise. Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac.
This is where the story gets confusing. Abraham is told by God to sacrifice his son- the fulfillment of his dream- and kill him as an worship offering. This totally contradicted the dream God had given him. How was he supposed to be the father of nations if he killed his only son? How could God give him this dream, and then kill it? I have wondered the same thing. How could God give me these desires and dreams, and then ask me to sacrifice them? Although Abraham had to have been devastated at the thought of killing not only his son, but his dreams along with him, he was obedient. He traveled up the mountain and lovingly placed his son on the altar. He was ready to do what God asked him- to kill his dream. But God provided an alternate just in time.
This is what I have come to realize- that we, like Abraham, must value the Dream-Giver more than the dream itself. And when we are willing to sacrifice our dreams, God provides another- an alternate- and an always better option. When circumstances change and dreams must die, God does not leave us to figure out things for ourselves. Rather, the death of those dreams bring the birth and life of new and better dreams. Just as a seed must die in the ground to produce new growth, sometimes a dream must die in order to bring about new life and new dreams.
I am convinced that God gives us dreams in seasons. My God-dream from 5 years ago is very different from my God-dream today. And I pray that 5 years from now, my God-dream will have changed and grown into something even greater. But our focus cannot be on the dreams. We must chase after the Giver of dreams. Pursue Him with your whole heart. Sometimes dreams will fall along the wayside, but if you are wholeheartedly pursuing the Dream-Giver, you can be confident that something greater is right around the corner.
Perhaps you are still seeking God for His dream for your life. Maybe you are walking in that dream right now. Or maybe, like me, you are going through the painful experience of the death of a dream. In any situation and in every circumstance, we must keep our eyes on God- the Giver of dreams- and trust that although dreams may die, He never changes.