It was one of those days, the kind where life seems designed to crush your dreams and everything either seems like too much or not enough. Too much work, not enough time. Too much grief, not enough hope. Too much conflict, not enough rest.
At such times, it’s easy for me to despair and embrace the poor-me, false mentality that my dreams and goals don’t matter to God. Like my dream of helping care for African orphans, which was shattered when our adopted daughter, Ruth, who was born in Uganda, unexpectedly died.
Or my dream of writing books for children and adults. When I finished writing a 250-page memoir, I thought I’d reached the top of the mountain, only to find the peak of getting published was much further and higher—a journey I’m still on.
Or my dream of moving to the country. Over the past year, my husband, Dana, and I fell in love with an old red farmhouse, planning and plotting where we might plant a garden or dig a pond, only to find the house was beyond our reach.
“It wasn’t the right house,” Dana confidently said when someone else bought it.
I agreed, but that didn’t stop me from driving by and wishing it was mine.
Are such dreams bad? Not of themselves, but as I drove away from admiring it one last time, I felt convicted to surrender my dreams to God, to not hold anything so tightly that it would prevent me from holding onto what matters most.
“I will not follow my dreams,” I prayed quietly as I turned my van around and headed down a dirt road to drop something off at my children’s school. “I will follow you.”
A familiar car was coming in the other direction. It was Peter, one of the school’s founders. Now retired, he is more like one of Christ’s apostles than anyone I’ve ever met and is always sharing his faith. I rolled down my window to say hi, but Peter beat me to it.
“I don’t know if you ever get discouraged,” he said, “but here’s your verse for the day, Isaiah 50:7, ‘Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.’”
Then, just like that, he drove off.
I pulled off the road, sat in my van, and wept. Because it’s so easy to get distracted and discouraged when all we see are obstacles. And it’s hard to discern what really matters as we muddle through our days striving after dreams we believe will make us—or others—feel the most fulfilled.
Yes, our dreams matter to God. But if we want to achieve the things that matter most, we, like Israel’s ancient profit, must surrender our dreams to God and set our faces like rock to pursue him alone, trusting that what may be beyond our reach is never beyond his.