Laying Aside or Laying Down
Monday, March 25 2019
I‘ve been thinking lately about dreams.
Not the dreams that we have at night, while we sleep. No – I’ve been thinking about the dreams we birth and carry in our hearts. Some are just for ourselves; others are for those we love. Some of them we have held for years; others are more recent. Some of them we, with deep satisfaction and gratitude, have seen come to rich fulfilment; others we, often with a steady and painful ache, are still longing and hoping to see realized; and still others we have had to give up completely, because they have shattered before our eyes and we have had to come to the sobering and agonizing realization that they will simply never be.
I praise God for the dreams I have had that over the years have come true. I always wanted to be a missionary – I always wanted to travel – I always wanted to be married – I always wanted to have children, my own and adopted. My heart’s longing ever since I chose to follow Christ was to serve Him somehow in full-time ministry. Thanks be to God! I have been given and I am doing all that!
But I have other dreams stored in my soul that have not come true. Dreams for myself – dreams for those I love – dreams for those I serve. And the desperately hard thing to consider and to think of having to accept is that they may never come true.
In the end, when all is said and done, many of our dreams will never have materialized as we had hoped. Because, as much as we believe that the dreams we have for ourselves and for those we love are good for us all, our thoughts and ways are not God’s thoughts and ways – His thoughts and ways are always higher and better than ours ever could be (Isaiah 55:8-9). So when some or many of the dreams we cherish simply do not come to fruition, we need to believe and trust that it is because God’s dreams for us are ever so much greater and deeper.
But what do we do with our dreams then? Those dreams that are so much a part of us, that we cling to so fiercely, that we so desperately want to see fulfilled. Do we just give them up? Just like that?
I thought of my own dreams, for myself and for those I love. Do I just rip them out of my heart and lay them aside? Just leave them somewhere and walk away? Just try to continue on with my life, disappointed and frustrated and empty because of all that I have given up?
Or can I do something different, something better? Can I not lay my dreams down at the foot of Jesus’ cross in humility and obedience and trust? Can I not hand them over to the God who created me, who knows me, who loves me – whose thoughts and plans towards me are to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)? Can I not humbly lay my dreams down before Him who knows what is best for me, and trust that He will give me that which is best, even and especially if what is best is not what I think it might or should be?
Yes! Laying aside just breeds more sadness and anger and pain. But laying down, and laying down before Jesus who is infinitely kind and good to those who love Him – that is ever so much more healing and renewing and empowering.
After all, is that not what Jesus Himself did? Did He not take His own life (not just his dreams), and lay it down before His Father on the cross? “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” That is what the apostle John, the beloved disciple, said in his Gospel (15:13). Jesus Christ did not simply lay His precious and perfect life aside somewhere. No! Out of the great love He has for us His friends, He lay down His life on the cross, and entrusted Himself completely to His Father in heaven.
Oh God: today, as hard as it is to deny myself and to hand over my dreams, my will and my spirit choose to do so. I choose to give up my own desires and hopes – not simply to lay them aside somewhere, but to humbly and obediently lay them down at the foot of Jesus’ cross. And I choose to take up Your dreams and desires for my life, trusting “that in ALL things God works for the GOOD of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28)
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