Last week I joked about “giving up giving up things” for Lent. I have a reputation for tenacity. I don’t find giving up an easy thing. Giving up on dreams is an horribly difficult task.
Often, though, we are called by God to give up our dreams. We are asked to give them up not because they are too grandiose but because they are too small.
As a young person in ministry I wanted to preach to crowds. I wanted to preach in beautiful oratory. I aspired to be like C. H. Surgeon. I read his sermons and tried to emulate them . I had dreams of soaring sermons and enraptured congregations. When I graduated no one wanted a ‘green’ preacher in their pulpit. Ironically though they did offer their ‘most precious’ children to a fledgling evangelist, so I learned puppetry and pedagogy. Over those years I had the opportunity to share the story of Jesus’ love with thousands.
Years later I was finally welcomed into the pulpit of churches. My last year of itinerant ministry I preached over 300 times. Even in this I had to lay aside dreams of crowds. I spoke in little church after little church. I had meaningful conversations with anyone who would engage. I did not get to use the flowery prose I had aspire to, instead I shared the simple Gospel in simple ways to the ordinary people.
Then I ‘heard’ God’s call to mentor budding evangelists at Taylor College. I gave up the hundreds of preaching invitations to invest my time with 10 – 12 individuals. My world of influence was shrinking and I was further from my dream than ever.
After a number of years even this small group had dwindled down to … well nothing. I shut out the lights as Taylor College closed and I gave up another dream.
Since then I have been investing time with a small group with no influence and few resources. Thank God my dreams have been shattered! My dreams were too small. God’s ways are higher than mine! The Street Hope Community with all its messiness is beautiful beyond telling.
I longed for a ministry that would be ‘miles wide’ and God gave me a ministry that allows me to go deep. I longed for the masses and God has given me an eclectic group of spiritual friends.
I wonder if there are more dreams I should give up? Is holding on to them preventing me from realizing something better and more beautiful? I may have a five year plan but God has a trillion year, no eternal plan.
I know what I should do: “Give up!” and surrender all. It goes against my nature and I should give that up as well.