With tears in my eyes, I read the lyrics to the worship song on the screen: Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. I didn’t open my lips to sing them for fear of what sorrowful sound might leap from my mouth. In the wake of our...
I held my rounded belly as I walked up the wooden, uneven stairs. We delayed their renovation until after the baby’s room was done. Almost everything was unfinished on the second floor of our house. The walls still had floral and striped wallpaper (and who knows what other colours underneath), the floors were chipboard, and there were boxes we still had no place for after living here almost a year. Some days I liked my dreams coming true: the walls having fresh paint, my bare feet walking on clean hardwood, and bright sunlight filling the spaces. But I knew that was still a number of months down the road.
If you asked me what I envisioned for my life, this was far from it. I would have told you about my plans to live in the city, work in a church, and use my Master’s in Biblical Counselling. Maybe I’d tell you about our cute house in the cul-de-sac with a modern farmhouse feeling. I would have told you children were in the picture, but not until I was 28.
And yet, here I was—21 years old, working as a babysitter and “Mommy Helper,” without a degree, and pregnant with my first. The only common denominator was my faithful husband. There were days I felt like my dreams were crushed by the sovereign hand of God.
Has life not turned out the way you dreamed? Maybe you thought you would have a growing family with babies and toddlers in tow—but your arms still remain empty. Perhaps you saw yourself going out on double dates with your married friends by now—yet, you are the only one who is still single. Maybe you saw yourself with a nicer and better-paying job at this point—but you still push grocery items on a conveyor belt.
Worshiping Our Dreams
Do you worship your dreams? I know I did. I held my dreams higher than God at times, and pursued my dreams more than I pursued holiness. There were times I was willing to sin to get my dreams. In my heart, I had pushed God aside and placed my dreams in his place.
Have you ever considered that these dreams you have might be an idol? Even if your dreams are good—like having a godly husband—our hearts can still worship them.
Since the lines can at times become fuzzy, here are a few ways to see if your dream has become an idol. You…
- are willing to or have sinned in attempt to achieve it.
- become sinfully angry when you can’t have it.
- are willing to hurt others to get it.
- put off obedience to God in the ways he has already called you in order to achieve it.
- often think, “Without [insert your dream], I will never be happy.”
Before you can find hope again from your unrealized dreams, you need to first let go of this idolatry. God needs to be the One you delight in most. In recognizing this idolatry in your heart, start by repenting and asking God for forgiveness. Confess to him how you have placed this dream over him and the ways you have disobeyed him in order to get it. Then seek to know God more. As you grow in the knowledge of God, you will see how he is much better than your dream and how inferior your dream is to him.
Finding Hope In God’s Sovereignty and Wisdom
We know that God is sovereign. All of our plans and dreams pass through his hands first. If they are realized, then we know it was in his will for them to be fulfilled. But if they do not, we know that it was him who sovereignly chose to keep them from us.
This should give us great comfort. We are sinful and unwise people—if our plans and dreams always turned out the way we wanted, our lives would be a mess. When things go wrong, we would have no hope of them turning out for the better. Since God is sovereign, we can have hope even when our plans and dreams aren’t realized. We know God works together all things for good (Romans 8:28-30).
What is that ultimate good? When our dreams are crushed and we can’t see the goodness in it, we can know that the true goodness began with our salvation. When God rescued us sinners from the condemnation to hell our sin had sentenced us to, he began a good work in us that he promises to see to completion: Our sanctification—being made more like Christ.
We know that God is also much wiser than us. He knows what will make us more like Christ, which should be our ultimate goal (or dream). Isaiah declares:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
In God’s greater wisdom, he decides which way our lives turn. Even though our way may seem like the best way at the time, we can trust that God’s is better. His ways are higher in his great wisdom. Rather than questioning his choices, we need to learn to accept what he gives and what he withholds.
In our pain, and when what we want is good and right, this isn’t always easy to do. But we must preach the truth to our hearts in those times and remind ourselves of his perfect character. Take hope today in your crushed dreams that every “gift”—whether it is something given or something withheld—is perfect when it is from God.
We can also cling to a better and certain dream. Because we bear Christ’s mark of salvation, we can trust that we will one day meet Christ, face-to-face, fully redeemed from sin and taken from this sinful work wrecked with heartache, disappointment, death, and pain, and enter into eternal life where all is perfect and at peace. We will enter eternity with Christ, and spend all of time with him in the most perfect place. When our dreams are dashed, this is a much greater hope.
A New Dream
I had specific dreams for my life. Thankfully, God doesn’t work according to my desires. He works according to his, which are beyond my wisdom. And by his greater wisdom, he gave me something better.
I wanted to live in a big city where opportunities and people abound. But God had different plans for us. He began by softening our hearts for the people in the small town around us through youth group and our church. From there, he provided the perfect house for us.
Rather than pursuing a degree, God led me to ACBC certification, through which I’ve grown immensely. Rather than waiting to have children, God has blessed us with a healthy baby boy. And, rather than having a fancy office job in a church, I got the opportunity to work for two mothers in our community—who help me learn about being a godly wife and mom. Working for these two mothers has also blessed me with the ability to provide for my household and invest time into my writing.
Some days it’s hard to see the “better” in this dream, and some days I struggle to be thankful when I see others living out my previous dream. But God is working on my heart, and I am growing in contentment and joy for this new life God has graciously given us.
You may not be able to see it now, but God has a better dream for you. I’m not saying all will turn out well according to the world’s standards, or even your standards, but I do know that it all will turn out according to God’s will, which is the best thing that could ever happen for your life.