When Dreams Don't Come True, And Even When They Do

April 27, 2015

When Dreams Don't Come True, And Even When They Do

I remember going through a particularly difficult and heart-wrenching season several years ago while Troy was a church planting pastor. A dream -- our dream -- for a particular ministry and a particular life direction, was coming to a close, and I resisted and chaffed under the change of plans. During that same time, there were other unexpected turns and losses that firmly established an unpleasant reality: My life and my dreams were simply not turning out the way I had envisioned. 

I came across these words from Jared Wilson in a recent post, and I couldn't be more encouraged to be reminded, anew, to turn from the idolatry of what we sometimes make of our dreams...("wish-dreams" as Bonhoeffer calls them):

We all have wish-dreams about just about everything in our lives — we have dream jobs, dream spouses, dream families, dream lives. And we’re constantly comparing the wish-dream versions of these things with the versions we actually have. Many a marriage struggles because spouses keep holding up to each other the impossible standard of the wish-dream. And many a pastor struggles because he keeps holding up the church he’s been stewarded to his wish-dream of the church he wants...

...Whatever it is, we all have a vision for how life is supposed to go, what life is supposed to be like, what we want and how we want it and the way we want to feel about it, but then actual life happens, and when our heart is tuned to only find joy in the dream, we will never find joy, because we’ve placed it in a mirage...

...It’s great when pieces of our wish-dreams come true, and some of us might actually get the whole thing, but it’s also dangerous to dwell in that imaginative world, because when our joy is placed anywhere but in Christ, we are setting ourselves up for incredible, crushing disappointment and spiritual and emotional disaster.

Pain can make one sharp, while prosperity can oft make us sluggish. What Wilson pens above is the clarity that comes from discomfort and heartache...of Abraham walking up the hill with Isaac with his knife in hand. I remember feeling such assurance of God's call for my obedience in those years of ministry-dream deferred, despite the fear or devastation I felt. 

 

And yet, I find myself looking at dreams from a different angle these days. I've been thinking lately on all the "wish-dreams" that have not come to be in my personal and ministry life....and all that have now become much more than I could have dared hope for myself. This unexpectedly grand endeavor that has grown out of GraceLaced Shoppe is exceeding anything I could have asked or imagined. I'm walking towards, not away, from what appears to be tremendous favor and blessing. However, the Lord's brought to my mind, again and again...that he wants me to want him, not what dreams he fulfills. 

He does not grant wishes; he is not my genie. He is a my sovereign Savior; he wants me to call upon his name and fall upon his mercy. 

I'm heeding the warning to not dwell in a world that would place my joy in achievement, success, accomplishing goals, or even doing what I love. A "wish-dream" come true as the reward, will never be a satisfying end. Over the weekend, as I thanked God for the incredible journey he has me currently on, I read these words that so brings me full circle:

Created beauty eclipses God’s beauty in the desire factory of man’s heart. It is a case of mistaken identity. Every created beauty was created by God to lead our affections to Him. That’s why He made the pleasures of earthly beauty so fleeting — so that on the other side of the pleasure we might experience either wonder and worship and ultimate satisfaction in God or the pursuit of the pleasure that beauty provides for its own sake. If we choose the latter, we will only be disappointed again.
— Steve DeWitt, "Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God In Everything"

I've been on both sides of yearning and dreaming, and have found this to be true: The loss of a dream is no more devastating than the fulfillment of one is exhilarating, if our heart's ultimate delight is in Christ. With our affections anchored firmly to the love of Christ, dreams can come and dreams can go...our most precious will remain on the altar and be ever and only His.

Praise God: Because His love conquers all our deepest longings, it overcomes the futility of living for self and turns even our very dreams, deferred or fulfilled...into sacrifices of praise.

Because of grace,

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