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  • Dan Wilson

Chasing the Dream

When I was a teenager in the 70s, one of my favorite bands, Boston, recorded a song titled “Long Time.” A line from that song sticks in my mind:


“I got to keep chasing that dream, though I may never find it. I'm always just behind it.”


Sounds a bit frustrating, doesn’t it? But it's all too common.

When you're young, the whole world is in front of you. Endless possibilities and the goals of fame and fortune most of us dream about. And we want to share our dreams with others, which is sometimes risky. There is a lot of pressure to live up to a standard set by those around us. In the 70s, it was bad enough; the circle we traveled in was usually limited to family, school, and maybe church friends. And today, it is exponentially worse, with social media expanding awareness to an audience of literally millions around the world. You can say something and have it heard around the world in a single moment.


Dreams and goals are important. After all, it's been said that it's impossible to hit a goal that you don't have. One of the first critical questions we must ask is - whose dream is it? Did your parents set your goals, teachers, or other influencers, friends perhaps, or did you come up with them on your own? How about including God in the process? God has plans for you. In fact, He has big plans for you.


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)


So, how do you determine what your dream is, and how do you progress through life on a path to fulfill it? It starts with having a specific plan. A favorite motivational speaker I followed throughout my life, Zig Zigler, would often say that a goal is a dream that is written down with a plan to reach it. It must be specific. Zig was a strong Christian man, and I always admired his integrity.


There are many worthy and admirable goals in life. How do we improve the chances that we will effectively identify our goals and reach them? As such, or perhaps more importantly, how can we be sure that reaching our goals will bring the pleasure and happiness we desire? We must align our goals and dreams with God. The Bible says:


“Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)


“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” Psalm 20:4 (NKJV)


Let’s look at one of many examples of dreamers in the Bible. King David appointed his son Solomon to succeed him at his death. Solomon was young; my research suggests he was between 15 and 20 years old. Imagine taking over the family business at that age! Especially if the family business is ruling over an entire nation! With all the challenges of dealing with the people's daily needs and threats of a takeover – both from within and external - how did Solomon handle his new job? 

Let’s look at a conversation he had with God early in his rule.

 

“And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places.


 Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”


And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”


The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kings 3: 3-14 (NKJV)


I’d say Solomon hit it out of the park, didn’t he?” God made him the wisest man who ever lived on the planet. That’s a great example of what God will do if we come to him with humility and ask to join His plans, as opposed to asking Him to join ours.


I've always felt that contentment is the single true goal we're all trying to find. Think about it - what do you want from life? Most would answer that they want the things and people that will provide happiness. It’s not the thing we want – it’s what the thing does for us. I'm sure you can easily name many acquaintances or celebrities who appear to have reached their goals, but their lives do not suggest that they are happy or content. There is a difference between happiness and true contentment. Happiness is typically short-lived and based on external sources. A new thing can excite you and bring happiness, but my personal experience is that it always wears off and leaves you looking for the next new thing.


Contentment, on the other hand, is based on finding an inner peace that can only come from the Creator. He made you; He knows what’s best for you. It does not depend on other people or things. This is where Jesus enters the picture. Having an identity that is solely based on Jesus is the only way to have contentment - peace that lasts. That’s what will allow us to come to the feet of the Heavenly Father and, as Solomon did, ask for God to give us what He knows we need.


Which brings me back to the original question, as Boston put it - how do we keep on chasing that dream, but with some assurance that we can not only find it, we can achieve it?


“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)


I believe God created each and every human who has ever been or will ever be born in his own image, and with a unique and specific set of talents for a purpose here on earth. The highest purpose is to glorify God, but we all do that in different ways.


“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8 (NKJV)


I'm not an athlete, musician, or movie star. I've never aspired to play sports beyond Little League or be a musician beyond learning enough guitar to try to impress a girl. Those aren't my talents. But those who do have God-given talent for sports or music or acting are able to achieve great success, which is only short term, and too often, we do not see any lasting happiness or contentment. That is unless they acknowledge the source of their ability. Doing this glorifies God and will bring true and lasting contentment, whatever it is that God has chosen you to do with your life.


Let’s go back to the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, for some advice. He wrote this at the end of his life.


“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.” 

Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NKJV)”


“Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 (NKJV)


Finding and applying your God-given talents will bring you contentment and happiness, and you will achieve the greater goal that He has for you, which is to bring Him glory. Most importantly, lessons throughout history teach us that this is the only way to have contentment and leave a positive and lasting legacy. When we praise and honor the Father we have found and achieved the most complete and valuable dream that exists.

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