Christian influencers often exhort believers to dream big and go after their passions. Do you ever feel left out or inadequate because you haven’t stated an overarching vision for your life? Do you feel less significant to God or the world if you’re not driven in a pursuit for greatness? Should we prioritize our personal fulfillment?
I don’t find Jesus imploring John, Peter and the others to pursue their personal passions because they’re special and they deserve it.
Rather, Jesus said,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.Matthew 16: 24-25 NIV
God never demands that we pursue our dreams in order to have real value. Are we focusing on ourselves or God? That’s the big question. We find our true significance when we give our lives to Him.
On my morning walk I prayed as I passed pretty houses on the lake. I glimpsed at the water and spoke out loud to Him. With no one nearby, I chuckled a little as I poured out my future dreams to my Old Comfortable Friend. “You already know all of this because you know everything, but somehow it helps me to verbalize. I want a warm cottage-type home in Wilmington with a water view. I imagine a welcoming porch with comfy chairs and big lush ferns. Snuggled up to the porch are hundreds of gigantic blue and pink hydrangea blooms. A big foyer, trimmed in white, with stairs in view, welcomes folks. They’ll open the unlocked door and feel hugged even before our arms wrap around them. The upstairs will have bunk beds for grandchildren and a guest room for people who need a get-away. I’ll cook for them, listen to them and pray for them. We’ll help them feel renewed and encouraged. There’ll be a long table with space for lots of people to gather, full of loved ones and strangers. We’ll talk & laugh for hours as we watch the sun go down.
Then I told Him, “If I live long enough and it’s your will, this is what I want.”
“Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, ‘We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.’ The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue our dream. “James 4: 13-14 The Voice
I don’t think God is against goal setting. He tells us that we should count the costs before taking on projects. The key is to hold those plans and goals loosely while we continually pursue Him.
As Christ followers our first obligation is to die, not to seek our dreams. We’re not told to pursue our passions to the hilt to find earthly fulfillment. If a message is devoid of surrender to self, it isn’t Christian.
Following a passion or going hard after a dream can be idolatry if it comes first in your life. Next to our relationship with God, spouse and family are priorities. I’m concerned that some people, in search of self-fulfillment, overlook the most important things and face bad consequences. Submit your ideas to God and He will show you the way.
Never once did I dream of moving to Columbia, South Carolina. My hope was to continue to live in Wilmington as we loved and encouraged our family and community. I know for certain, however, we were meant to be here.
Several years ago, while my husband Tom searched for a job, we started each day in prayer together. Over and over we told the Lord, “We want to stay in Wilmington, but if you have another plan for us we’ll go where you direct us.” When Tom received the job offer, I knew we had to go through the door He opened.
All I’d ever known about Columbia was the exit sign on I-95. But God leads us faithfully by his Holy Spirit and we don’t have to figure it all out. Often we’re able to see some of the reasons He’s led us in a specific way.
Now, I can’t imagine not having lived in Columbia. We wouldn’t have known and loved our cul-de-sac neighbors or our beloved friends that we join in homes for meals. Tom and I have adventured together and grown more deeply in love. His fantastic job and the friends he’s made are reason enough to be here.
I still want to go back to Wilmington one day. It will always be home. But, I’d rather go hard after God and His plan than to conjure up my own dreams and passions.
No matter what happens, the Columbia era of our lives is a valuable part of our God-written story. We are dreaming big dreams with Him.