It’s graduation season again and there are slews of students marching off with the thought that they can chase their dreams and be what they put their minds to. Is that true? Does God say that?
When I was little, I dreamed of being a figure skater. I was glued to any TV screen that showed skaters, and when I went skating, I would force my little sister to help me practice. After that came my dream of being a dolphin trainer at Sea World. But I found out that I was too tall to be a figure skater and could never compete without lessons. And as for dolphin training, I can’t even swim underwater without plugging my nose.
My dreams were crushed.
Nowadays I don’t have a lot of confidence in many of my dreams and plans, and I always have about 42 backup plans, just in case. The Bible says that God is in control, so that means He has let lots of my other dreams fail. Who’s to say He will protect these?
Yet Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India who had given up plenty of dreams, said, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates.”
When I first heard this, I think my reaction was more of a “Psshaw!” than anything. It sounds nice, but way too happy-feely to be true. The thing is, when I broke it down, I realized how much sense it really makes.
First of all, she talks about how God creates desires in us, and that is so backed up by Scripture. God created us and intimately, personally, uniquely designed us. Psalm 139 talks about how we are “skillfully wrought,” and that God has “searched me and known me.” That doesn’t just include hair color and height. That is your personality. It’s everything that makes you, you. Genesis 1:27 says that, “God created man in His own image.” In our personalities, we reflect a creative, unique God. On top of all that, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are given spiritual gifts. We become an individually functioning part of a body, each contributing something different so that we all can reach more people with the hope of Christ (Romans 12:3-8).
What all that adds up to is that God designed us to be who we are, at least the parts of us that aren’t defined by sin, to bring glory to Himself. If we love sports, God put that into us. If we love music, God designed us that way. If we love to write, work with kids, be on computers, or talk with friends, those are all things God hardwired into us.
But we don’t always see the plan that goes with those loves. Sometimes, it feels like the plan is kind of falling apart no matter what we do…
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” That includes the times that we think God is letting us down. For example, it’s hard to see what good it did for me to try so hard to be a skater, but from that experience, I learned how much I love teaching. I loved planning lessons for myself, and now I’m an education major. Benjamin was an engineering major early on in college, but struggled to keep from failing his classes. He was crushed that he couldn’t do it, but God used that to show him his real passion in web design. He also learned to grow closer to God and depend less on his own abilities through that experience.
But Romans 8:28 and Amy Carmichael said one thing in common that is really important. Ms. Carmichael said that we can trust God to fulfill the desires that He creates. Romans 8:28 says things work for good “to those who are called according to His purpose.” I love to get caught up in the excitement of future plans. I’m going to do this, and it’s going to turn into that, and then this will happen… sometimes without stopping to pray and ask God if this is His will for me or if this desire is from Him. We are sinners, and we have a LOT of selfish, sinful desires inside us. The scary thing is that many of them look perfectly harmless on the outside. Plus, our own heart is untrustworthy. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Add that to the fact that there is a devil, “walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), the expert at deceit, and well, we had best be certain that we know our plans line up with those of God.
After all, if they don’t, we don’t really want them anyway.
So, let’s sum up. We can trust God with our future because the dreams and desires we have (that aren’t sinful) were put there by Him. We know He can do anything and that He wants us to use our gifts and personalities to bring Him glory. That’s why He gave them to us. But, we have to remember that what we do needs to always line up with His plan, or it will be no good. Plus, we need to be willing to put in the work and the effort that He asks of us. Just because He asks us to do it, doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It also doesn’t mean it will look anything like we first hope or imagine. But God’s plans are always better than ours.
So, to all you graduates out there (and those who are long past the Pomp and Circumstance phase), your future is completely safe in God’s hands. If we leave it there and follow God’s guidance, He promises He will work all things together for eventual good. So go out there and rock the life He has for you, whatever that may be!