Have you ever had to give up a dream?
If you read my blog regularly, you may already be tired of hearing the word surrender. It seems to be a theme running through my life, but maybe it goes through every Christian’s life. After all, Jesus told us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The problem is that more often I slip into the world’s culture of making everything all about me. Maybe I shouldn’t say “world’s culture,” though. I don’t need the world’s help for that–it’s been inside me from birth.
When I have something, whether it’s a new shirt, an ability to run, a relationship with a friend, or a dream, most of the time I fall into the trap of thinking it ultimately belongs to me. After all, I’m the one who wears the shirt. I’m the one running. I’m the one who spends time with the friend. This thought process is stronger with dreams. Dreams feel very personal, very intimate, almost an inextricable part of who I am.
Running is something I had to surrender. I can still run, but I have trouble racing anymore–I always injure something! By the way, I don’t usually run with my eyes closed.
However, none of these really completely belong to me, even when I think they do, not even my dreams. God has given me everything I have, and He has every right, as my King, Father, and Friend, to take whatever He deems necessary to take. Not only does He have the right, but if He deems it right, He IS right. He knows better than I ever will what I need. Not that He’s stingy, only giving me what I need. No, my Father, even on this earth, has given me far, far more than I could ever need physically, not to mention spiritually. In fact, in the past He has given me gifts I didn’t need in any way, just to make me feel loved. He has always been sweet to me.
In knowledge of this, I can give the shirt off my back to someone who needs it. It may be harder to give a new, fun one, but God tested me on that one a few years ago, and with His help, I can do that fairly easily. I can also surrender a beloved friend if I need to, knowing God has other good plans for that friend, even though I might grieve the parting. However, giving up a dream is still hard for me.
This past week, a dream I held close to my heart was wrenched out of my hands, quickly, the way a loving parent might tear a Band-Aid off a child’s arm. I do believe it was my loving Parent who did this, just at the time He knew I needed it to be done. He knew I was cherishing this dream a little too strongly, clutching it a bit too tightly. I needed a reminder that this was not my dream in the first place, but placed in my heart by God Himself. It’s His, to do with whatever He wishes.
I’d like to say my first response was humility before God, an attitude that said, “Do what You want with this dream, God.” My first response was closer to misery. It was definitely hard to keep the tears back, even though I was going somewhere and needed to get through it without telltale red-rimmed eyes. My second response was to ask God why He had done it. You’d think this doubt of God’s goodness would turn Him away from me. But you see, God isn’t like that.
God didn’t punish me. He comforted me. The next morning, when I was again heading somewhere I needed to be dry-eyed, words to a song by Kendall Payne, called “Aslan,” were persistently running through my head. First of all, if you read my last post, you might remember I’ve been reading the Narnia Chronicles with my kids–my last post was about Aslan. Second, I heard this song a few days before this, but before that, I hadn’t heard the song for a very long time. I had just rediscovered it after writing about Aslan and Eustace and was surprised by the reference to the same topic about which I had been writing.
After the words ran over and over in my head that morning, I realized I really needed to listen to the words more carefully. I turned the song on to hear words about how God is not safe and how I might be tempted to run away. Kendall Payne sings that God won’t do the things I know He could, He won’t think the way I want Him to, but He is good. The words go on to say that God’s water of life is free, but it costs everything. He’s not necessarily fair in our minds, but He fixes what can’t be fixed and gives grace. He cuts deep, but He never leaves a wounded person behind. Most of all, the song repeats several times how God is good.
God reminded me kindly and gently through this song that I might not understand Him, but He is good, and I can trust that. Then He gave me the grace to trust it. I might or might not get my dream back. No matter what, if I do get it back, I will hold it with a whole lot more humility. If God chooses to use it after all, I’ll know it is He who used it, not me. And when I’m in my right mind, that’s what I want, anyway–that He may be glorified with all He’s given me.