A SIMPLE AND NOBLE DREAM
"Dream big", these popular peddlers preach, "because the bigger your dreams the bigger God will be to you!" But this idea is anti-cross. It's not your dreams for your life that give you purpose - it is God's simple plan for your life. But just because something is simple doesn't mean it isn't profound. Neither should simple be assumed to be easy. In a sense, God is simple. He simply is. He simply rules. He simply reveals Himself. Yet each of these statements are profound. God has a simple yet profound purpose for your life and it is easy to discover. The path to living it is stained with the wet crimsoned footprints of our Master. Yet there are those who peddle a message that God's purpose for your life is to help you achieve your dreams.
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1
You don't need a "dream" to give your life purpose - you simply need to apply the teaching of the Gospel. The appeal to "use God" to "help you achieve your dreams" may sound very inspirational when stated by the nice smiling man with an American accent in an expensive suit before a vast congregation of cheering fans, but it is not the message of Christ! On the contrary, one of the crimsoned stained pavers upon which we march with Christ is engraved with this reminder-
¶ Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Walking with Christ is not about 'dreaming'. Following Christ is made all the more sweeter because we view our richest gains as loss and rejoice that we can pour contempt on our reasons for pride.
WHEN I SURVEY
Written by Isaac Watts
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince Of Glory died'
My richest gain, I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God.
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His hands, His head, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine demands my heart, my soul, my all.
When we acknowledge that Christ is our Lord, we lay down our dreams - we don't baptise them! We sacrifice our ambition - we don't sanctify it! We give up our agenda - we don't gear it up! Does this mean that our lives will lack purpose, drive, meaning and fulfilment? Far from it! Instead, our lives become focused on glorifying God and enjoying Him! Rather than sitting around in the Officers' Mess awaiting our marching orders, we boot up and get marching on our pilgrimage. We don't wait for some mystical dream to discover how we might glorify God, we bloom where we are planted. We turn our work into worship. We sanctify our serving. This means that we regard so-called 'mundane' tasks as opportunities to glorify God. It is when we are proven faihful in small things that God entrusts to us greater things (Matt. 25:23; 1Tim. 3:13). But notice this principle? It isGod - not us - Who assigns those tasks/responsibilities to our lives that give us a sense of meaning and purpose. You don't need to dream it!
But some will refer to one of the million-seller paperback books by one of the television-preachers who said that because Joseph had a dream, God blessed him with its fulfilment. This type of violence to the sacred text is nearly unforgiveable for any preacher assigned their sacred task of explaining God's Great Word. Joseph did not devise a dream! His dreams were God-given! They weren't given to Joseph for Joseph to make something of himself, they were given to him as a measure of God's grace to him so that he could endure what was about to happen to him and thus fulfil the divine plan to redeem mankind!
The steps of a person are ordained by the LORD–
so how can anyone understand his own way?
Finding purpose and fulfilment in life is simple. God gives us each a noble path to walk that if we are truly blessed will also be simple. While tending his garden, Francis of Assissi was asked what he would do if he knew that he only had five minutes left to live. His response? "I'd finish weeding this garden!" It wasn't that he thought little of time, it was that he thought highly of doing everything for the glory of God - including weeding! Like the many millions who have found fulfilment in Christ for their lives, Francis of Assissi applied himself to whatever need God put before him.
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
I have a good friend who recently told me that he wasted a good number of his early years following Christ by trying to apply the numerous sermons he about "Discover Your Destiny", "Pursue Your Dream" and so on. He then discovered from reading God's Word that finding God's will and purpose for his life was simple. You simply follow Jesus. Where He takes you, you go.
Of course, you may actually have a dream that is quite commendable. Many people have. They have a dream to eliminate poverty, erradicate homelessness, end wars, and help indebted nations have their national debts cancelled. You may even feel that God has given you this dream as your life work. But have you laid it down at the foot of the Cross?
As Christ sets before you a simple, perhaps menial, task: follow Him there. Are you praying for God to be glorified in your life? And yet the only opportunities you seem to be presented with are so far beneath you? Are you praying for God to give you a "dream" or "vision" for your life? Perhaps it's time to wake up and see the needs you could meet right in front of you. They may be simple, but done to God's glory they can be noble.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.