Your dream & God’s dream
God’s Will is the Best Possible Plan
Ephesians 1:1-20; Colossians 2:2-10:
A. The Plan: We can do many things without God (acquire wealth…start a business…get an education…etc.), but only in God’s will can we find true joy, fulfillment, faithfulness…and expect someday to hear from Him… “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
That wonderful plan God has already designed for your life and mine contains the very best of Purpose, Adventure, Fulfillment, Joy, and new lessons.
B. The Trust:. Whom do you trust? Is there a person in your life with whom you would trust your very life, if necessary? A spouse…a parent…a sibling…a very good friend? Think about that person. And then realize that God loves you infinitely more than that person with whom you would trust your life!
We can trust someone who loves us perfectly…perfect love drives out all fear” 1 John 4:18.
“Then trust the Lord completely, don’t even trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:5 (LB)
Yes, God has a plan. Therefore, any plans you or I have must be painted against the backdrop of God’s eternal plan of redemption for all peoples. This is the joy and the challenge of leading our churches to be missionally formed. There is no higher call or purpose than to participate in God’s plan and to lead our churches on that journey. The temptation we often face is to limit our plans and dreams to our own abilities and our own resources. We must pause to realize that God has already painted the future and our role is to fill in the fine details. He places the brush in our hands to fulfill that portion which he has pre-ordained us to do. Thus, we paint with freedom and with the blessing of God as we join him in what He has already planned. The only limitations on the gospel are those we place on it. While painting, we do not gaze into our own resources or ingenuity, but we gaze into the mind and heart of God.
God’s plans for my life have almost never been my plans for my life.
When I was thirteen, I knew what college I wanted to attend even before I started high school, what career I wanted to pursue afterward, what age I thought would be ideal to get married, and even what life might look like well into my twenties. I held onto these plans for a long time, until real life happened — and not like I thought it would.
Sometimes it felt like I had no control at all over plans that fell apart. I tried to make my timeline fit, but my plans just weren’t working. Despite all my dreams and efforts, almost nothing on my list happened in the way or timing I expected. It was quickly evident that the Lord had something else in mind for my life.
As God redirected my life at each step, often against my will, he also changed my heart. With each delayed or unfulfilled plan, I began to learn what it meant to willingly, even joyfully, exchange my personal dreams for God’s good plans for me.
Not the kind of dreams you have when you’re sleeping, but the kind you have when you’re awake. The kind of dreams that actually keep you from sleeping. The dream of starting a business. The dream of having kids. The dream of getting married. The dream of signing a record deal. The dream of publishing a book. The dream of having a large house. The dream of becoming a missionary.
My generation has been told that if we dream it, we can have it. You want to be president? You can do it. You want to be a teacher? You can do it? You want to be a famous actor? You can do it. With enough hard work, you can make all your dreams come true. It’s sort of like Field of Dreams—if you build it, they will come. If you dream it, it will happen.
I’ll be honest: there have been times when I’ve bought into the dream machine propaganda. I’ve bought the books and read the blog posts and listened to the podcasts. I’ve written out “life plans” for myself, in which I sketch out all the things I want to accomplish over the next five years. I’ve purchased goal-setting apps for my iPhone (yes, I know I’m a nerd).
But in recent months I’ve come to realize something very important: God isn’t in the dream fulfilling business.
Actually, God does fulfill dreams, just not my dreams. God is in the business of fulfilling his dreams.
This theme runs through all of scripture. God has a plan, a dream if you will, for each person, and he always fulfills that dream. Abraham and Sarah dreamed of having lots of kids together. God dreamed of them having one son together, who would, along with Abraham, be an instrumental part of an incredible covenant between God and God’s people. Moses dreamed of growing up in Pharaoh’s palace. God dreamed of sending Moses into the desert for forty years, then using Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Hannah dreamed of having a large family. God dreamed of her having a son, Samuel, who would be dedicated to the Lord’s service.
The people of Israel dreamed of a Messiah who would come in power and destroy all the enemies of Israel. God dreamed of a Messiah who would come in weakness and humility and be crucified upon a Roman cross.