It is dawn and I’m sitting down to write for the first time in some days. These days have been harder to get a blog to come together as I’m a single parent for a short while. My wife is away here at a week-long writing class. “Seriously?” people ask. “She’s gone for a week???”
Yes, she is. And it is a blessing. See she heard about this trip and had set her sights on it for months even though the reality of our lives was that it wouldn’t happen. “There wasn’t enough time, money, space, etc”…didn’t matter what we filled in the blanks it didn’t seem to fit. A few months back when we suffered a miscarriage and had sold our house, life seemed more upended than normal. And in the midst of those storms, it helped us realize there would never be a good time for her to take a break from life and attend this writing class. So we decided together that now is the time. If we aren’t making steps towards following the dreams and ambitions God has planted within us, we risk the danger of atrophy where we stop progressing, stop growing, stop asking to be remade into God’s image. Because if we aren’t growing, I would argue that we are slowly withering. The notion of stasis, of things becoming perfectly still and neither growing nor dying, is a mistaken one. If we aren’t pursuing who we want to be, we’re being converted into the ways of the world. Counter cultural living means intentionally setting the course.
Have you ever driven a boat in the fog? If so, it can be one of the most unsettling feelings…cruising at high speeds and not sure exactly where you are going but only seeing a little bit of the water ahead of you at a time. Removed from the far off vision of where you are going, it is almost impossible to follow a true course. The smallest turn of the wheel sends you in circles. What gives your life purpose? Where are you going? And by whose rules are you living? What acts as your rudder? I would argue that all but Christ will lead astray and have you spinning in circles. I have seen this in my life over and over and over again where people set off to pursue money, or fame, or sex, or fill in the blank. Setting out on a journey hoping to find anything other than Christ will ultimately leave you spiritually bankrupt and devoid of meaning.
Now please be careful. Many aren’t able to take a break for a week (or even a few days) right now because of family obligations or lack or finances, or any # of a hundred great reasons. I am fortunate that my mother has stepped in to help with domestic responsibilities and we were able to parlay in air miles and other opportunities to enable the trip. The question arises though, if there is something you want to do now but can’t, when will the right time be? What plans are you making now to enable that future chance? How are you asking God to lead you? Where is His rudder aiming you?
Pastor Richard makes the case here that life isn’t about following our passions but instead is finding our lover and that as a culture we’ve been misguided about telling people to march to the beat of their own drum and sets people off for misguided notions of unlimited fulfillment. The problem with merely telling people to “Follow your dreams!” is the false notion that we get to make wishes on Aladdin’s lamp and life ends up always feeling like one of those Lifetime Channel “After School Special” Movies where there is no struggle, no pain, no hard choices, no disappointment.
Yes, we need more than just “follow our passions.” But we also need to take bold steps in our life to follow through with the things God has placed on our hearts. Psalms says, “I will bless the Lord who has counseled me,
Indeed my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.…
You will make known to me the path of life;
In your presence is fullness of joy;
In your right hand there are pleasures forever. “ Psalm 16
“Fullness of joy? Pleasures forever? Heart is glad? Glory rejoices?” This sounds like great news! This sounds like life can be lived in such a way that is overflowing with fulfillment and joy and maybe even a bit of passion. Dr. Seuss has the answers here, in Oh the Places You’ll Go which is always a favorite this time of year for every graduating person. Yes it gets more difficult as we age and take on more responsibilities to strike a balance from all that we have to do (going to work, paying for our housing, making enough to pay off school bills or credit cards, etc) and the other stuff that we dream of doing. Sometimes dreams have to wait and as we wait, God is able to mold us and shift our desires so that things that we thought we wanted to do at 18 don’t have quite the same appeal at 28 or 38 or beyond. As you read the story of the Exodus and God’s people in the desert, God is continually shaping and molding and providing and challenging the nation of Israel. Follow me, God says again and again, and I will provide for you. And despite God’s continual provision, Israel is slow to believe that God will care for them because all they see are those physical limitations before them (the land they are about to enter is full of giants, the daily food God brings isn’t full of enough protein, etc). God says, “How long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? “
As you read the bible and pray for direction and seek the counsel of the Lord and live out God’s kingdom commands here on earth to be salt and light to your neighbors, your co-workers, and your family, will you continue to trust the dreams and ambitions God is placing in your heart? Will you have the courage to follow Him when He is taking you to new places? Will you trust Him? And make bold decision to confirm His action steps for you? Is God leading you or do you need a new rudder? There are no Alladin lamps, but there is a God who will lead us. “For you light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.”