Surrendering Your Dreams to God
Not too long ago I wrote a post called "The Pain in Promise: The Joseph Story." For whatever reason, I have been in the process of considering my dreams, considering the waiting period and reconciling the two. Although we all anticipate the moment when our dreams become a reality, we spend the majority of our lives in the waiting process. When one dream is fulfilled, we begin waiting for the next thing. I know that in my own life I have spent alot of time waiting. But I know that there is something so special about the wait. After all, we have all heard it said that it's not about the destination. It's about the journey. It's in the waiting that we learn who we are and who our God is. Abraham was a man who did alot of waiting. When Abraham was 75 years old, God made Abraham a big promise. He told him, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12:1-3). God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5-6).
However, by the time Abraham is 86, His wife Sarai still hasn't had any children. So Abraham and Sarai decide to take matters into their own hands. Sarai gives Abraham her servant Hagar to sleep with and Hagar bears Abraham a son, Ishmael. This causes all sorts of problems. Sarai is consumed with jealousy and Hagar is sent away with her son. Yet Abraham and Sarai's mistake does not stop God's plan for them. God shows up again and reaffirms His promise to Abraham. God gives the couple a name change. He says, "No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations" (Gen. 17:5). Of Sarai God says, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." (Gen. 17:15-16). At the ripe old age of 100, Abraham becomes a father again. Isaac is born.
But this isn't the end of the story. It would make a good ending. Isaac is born and Abraham is on His way to seeing His dreams become a reality. Things are set in motion and everything goes off without a glitch. But that isn't the way the story goes. You see, in Genesis chapter 22, God asks Abraham to do the unthinkable. He asks Abraham to sacrifice His son. After all the hoping, after all the waiting, after the joy of seeing His dream birthed, God asks Abraham to give up the one thing He treasures most in life. He asks Abraham to give over His dream....Abraham says yes. He packs up His things and takes Isaac up a mountain. He ties him down and he raises the knife. At the last possible second the Angel of the Lord intervenes saying, "Do not lay a hand on the boy." "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son" (Gen. 22:12).
I feel like Abraham sometimes. I wonder, why do I have to wait so long for my dreams to come true? Why does it seem like God allows me to get so close to my dreams and then snatches them away? These are tough questions to grapple with. What I have learned through waiting is that God places a high value on my trust. God wants me to trust His ways and His timing. Like Abraham and Sarah, I have the tendency to want to take matters into my own hands and make my dreams happen according to my own plans and my own strength. Like Abraham and Sarah, I have learned that rushing ahead of God's timing and doing things my own way only leads to headaches and a mess.
More than anything though, I have learned that God wants to be number one in my life. He wants to be the only thing that I'm not willing to let go of. It is so easy to allow our dreams and our blessings to become our focus and to consume our affections. It is easy to chase after the stuff that God gives us and lose sight of what it is to chase after God's heart. We pursue the gifts of God and forget that relationship with Jesus is the greatest gift He has given us.
I remember a time when I was chasing after a dream that seemed so within my grasp. I felt God leading and all signs pointed to what I thought was a certain desirable outcome. I had invested so much of myself into the situation, because I felt so strongly that I was following the Holy Spirit. I remember saying, "If this falls through like everything else always has, it will be very difficult for me to trust God. I don't see why God would lead me this far just to let things fall through." Well, guess what happened. Things fell through. It was a painful process for me, but I realized that I was putting more of my heart into that situation than I was into my relationship with Jesus. I had made the dream my number one pursuit. I had allowed my love for the Father to take second place and put conditions on my trust in Him. Through that painful process, I fell deeper in love with Jesus.
My mindset has completely shifted where it concerns my dreams. I have learned to place all my dreams on the backburner to pursue my ultimate dream, which is living in relationship with Christ. I trust Him with it all. I know that He loves me and that I can rely on Him fully and completely to work out the details of my life, in accordance with His will and His timing, in a manner that is going to be best for me. He has my future completely under His control. Jesus is the only thing I hold onto these days. Everything else I hold with an open palm extended towards the Father. I'm honest with God about my hopes and my dreams, but at the end of the day all I really want is to follow Him. Like Abraham, I want God to be able to say of me that there is nothing I withheld from Him.
I love the words to this song "Nothing I Hold On To" by United Pursuit: I lean not on my own understanding. My life is in the hands of the maker of Heaven. I give it all to You God trusting that You'll make something beautiful out of me.
I will climb this moutain with my hands wide open. I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.
There is nothing I hold on to.