You and I may disagree about all sorts of things, but there is one thing I’m sure we have in common: the desire to make a future for ourselves. We all want to achieve something. Maybe we don’t know exactly what, but there is a longing inside each of us to become more than we are now.
Ever wonder why that is? You’re six years old, and you wanted to be a doctor. Why? You didn’t need a job. All your bills were being paid. You had a nice room, a constant supply of clean clothes, lots of cool toys; you had a chauffeur, you had personal bodyguards, you had a private chef–Oh, those were the days, my friend! Why would you ever want to mess with that deal?
And yet, deep inside you weren’t satisfied, were you? You wanted to be more. Even when we were little, we thought big. We wanted to play professional sports. We wanted to be a movie star or a rock god. We wanted to be taller. We even wanted to be older. Remember when you wanted to be older? What were we thinking?
There is something in each of us–call it ambition or passion or competitiveness or whatever–it manifests itself in different ways, but it’s in all of us from the beginning. In fact, when we’re young and less grounded in the ways of the world, we dream even bigger and more ridiculous dreams. Our ambitions and aspirations can be out of control when we’re eight years old. I remember my dream well: it was 1958, and Mickey Mantle’s knees were starting to slow him down in centerfield. My plan was that he could just move over to right field, and I would take over in center. Easy peasy.
When we’re kids, we assume that greatness is within our grasp. Then we lose our innocence (read “we give in to mediocrity”) and begin to settle for less. Far less. It’s easy to say we’re just becoming realistic, and that giving up our dreams is just part of growing up, but we know that’s a lie.
Our dreams are where God wants to paint a picture of a life waiting to be created, and a life centered in Christ is never absent of dreams. Why? Because God gave us an active role in creating our future. Have you ever thought about the part God wants you to play in shaping your future? Many of us sleepwalk through life thinking the future somehow automagically appears, and that life is like a pinball game with lots of lights and whistles and we bump against things and bounce around, ever headed toward a hole we will disappear into in the end.
When we view life from a victim’s point of view, it’s easy to become apathetic. If that sounds like you, I would like to challenge your thinking with a fact that I hope will move you out of your complacency: God says that the future is not something we simply enter into; it’s something we help create by our choices and actions.We are not here to simply play a role in a predetermined future.
God created us not only to be actors in the drama of life–He also gave us the parts of writers and creators! And the way this creativity works is that we first choose to enter God’s dream for the world. We don’t creatively imagineer our own dreams; we, at God’s invitation, enter His dream and are allowed to participate as actors and scriptwriters.
The future does not happen by accident; it happens as we engage in life. Somehow there are many of us who have missed this point. We have allowed history to be shaped by those who are opposed to God. It’s happening all around us, and the sad truth is that while many of us long for a better world and healthier neighborhoods to live in, most of us sit passively on the sidelines watching and wishing and, as the old John Maher song says, “waiting on the world to change.”
Why are we that way? That answer is far above my pay grade, but I sometimes wonder if it’s due in part to a misunderstanding about God that many of us have: we’ve built our life on a theology that says it is God’s job to fix things when they go wrong. And because of this thinking we have millions of sincere, Jesus-loving people who have deferred responsibility to God in activities that He wants us to be doing alongside Him.
And God doesn’t mince words in this area. He gave us spiritual gifts and abilities and opportunities, and His plan is that His children get involved. In Ephesians 2 we’re told “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works.” In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul pleads, “Let your bodies be a living and holy sacrifice.” He says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Spend some time in Romans 12 this week–learn how you can make a unique contribution to God’s work. He made us to be creative forces for good, and we cannot sit on the sidelines whining and wishing and waiting on the world to change.Do you want more out of life? Do you want things to be better? Be encouraged by the apostle Peter’s testimony after many years of following Jesus: “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. He has given us very great and precious promises–through them we can participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”