I have been wrestling with God for a very long time about my dreams, and I will propose today that it’s okay to wrestle with God.
Wrestling with God looks very different than fighting with God.
Wrestling features two individuals entwined in battle and both walk away at the end. Fighting involves two bloodied individuals punching each other with the hope of only one walking away because the other is knocked out.
When we fight we pray things like, “God this isn’t fair! I am not doing this!” When we wrestle, we pray things like, “God, this doesn’t feel fair. Show me how to view this the way You do. Teach me how to live this.”
When I left God for seven years after my brother died, it’s because I fought with God. I walked away. I decided I didn’t want to do life God’s way because it was too hard for what I got in return. Since returning, I have been wrestling with God about what to do with my dreams of being great for Him.
I grew up a people-pleaser. Did you?
As I child, I was prone to gross exaggeration in order for people to think my life was exciting. I fabricated entire stories that had no true parts. I even stole things to give to others as gifts so they would like me.
When I became a Christ follower, I carried my desire to please to people into my relationship with God and set my sights on pleasing God instead. I wanted to be the best Christian God ever saw (think Billy Graham and Beth Moore). I am not even close to being like either of them.
Wrestling can take a long time.
The years during which God heard most of my dream prayers were uttered while I was a college student at the University of Pittsburgh, when these pictures were taken. I am comforted to know that God heard every prayer. Each has been captured somehow into God’s Story for me even though my life has taken many twists and turns since then. Not one of my words has been lost.
As of today, I am nearing the distant end of middle-aged, having made countless mistakes, and am living a life that looks very normal. Staying close to Him like wrestlers do, I have been asking Him for over 25 years to teach me to live well within the confines of the life I have, not the life I dreamed.
Lately, there has been a breakthrough.
I have been viewing my life in a new way that has been very settling to my soul. I have been imagining God taking a pen in His hand, so to speak, and starting to write His story. Like any author, He introduces characters at just the perfect time and has them exit on cue. He knows the good purposes each character has for His story. The older I get, the more I want to live the life for which I was purposed – not one I create or chase after – because only God knows what will produce the best story.
I want to stay with God’s pen.
The motor that has been inside of me that has kept me striving to please God — the motor that fuels the struggle wishing my life was different — is finally shifting into neutral.
God made heaven and earth.
God made you and me.
He knows best.
We just have to stay with His pen.
I am finally figuring out that I am a shining star in God’s story as much as anyone else on the globe whenever I am where God wants me to be and doing what God wants me to do. And if each of us chooses to walk by faith alongside His pen, we will get Academy Awards for the various roles we played in the finest motion picture of all time…God’s story.
What do you and I do with our dreams?
I think our dreams are safest when we place them in God’s hands instead of keeping them in ours. He has heard every one of our prayers and knows the ache in our hearts when we uttered them. He can make them come true…or not. For me, most of them are now a “not,” at least for this lifetime. Is that true for you too?
Thankfully, we can have confident hope that what He has written for us instead will be even better than what we had dreamed. Like Abraham, I will die with promissory notes in my hands, trusting Him with what I cannot see. God won’t waste one thing about my life, or yours, if we place our dreams in His care knowing they may come true after our lives are over or become even better than we had imagined.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Picture Explanation: I feel much like the young woman in these pictures once again, apart from the 70’s hairstyle. The older me is choosing to trust that no matter what my life looks like to anyone else – or to me – the results will be magnificent because He is magnificent, and so is His Story. I will not be disappointed.
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