He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. – Ephesians 1:4
What could cause us to miss God’s plans? I think a lot of us are afraid. We’ve got hang-ups, and some of us have deep needs that we don’t even have words for. Before we go any further, let’s start thinking about what those might be.
To get our hearts primed and ready to begin dreaming, we need to till the soil a little. Loosen up the hard parts and make room for the seeds to grow. To do that, we’ll confront our worries, fears, hang-ups, uncertainties, and misplaced motives, digging out the rocks and making a safe place for us to begin to dream again. There are so many things that keep us from dreaming, and we start to deal with them by opening up our mouths and letting the words out.
The Things That Stop Us
- “I honestly don’t care about God.”
- “I don’t think God cares about me.”
- “I’m afraid of what people will think.”
- “I want a comfortable life.”
- “My spouse won’t be on board.”
- “I think I’ll fail.”
- “I have nothing to give God.”
- “I don’t think my life even matters much.”
I heard these words from women who had gathered with me at a church retreat in the Texas countryside. With raw honesty, they slowly let the words fall out. It was a safe place, and they were ready to deal with their hurt, sin, and anything stopping them from dreaming. Then, with all the mess of it pooling on the floor of our cabin, I looked around the room and saw a hint of something — a little sparkle, possible hope in their eyes.
As they spoke, the worries that had consumed each person moments before now looked miserably ridiculous staring back at them. The realization needed no words. We were faced with a simple, striking image: strong, resourced, rescued people who were full of God and going through life completely shut down by lies and fear.
Could there be more to life than this?
We were all certain that there was, and with all the chains on the floor, we could almost taste what we had been missing. We were about to remember what running with abandon felt like, what purpose felt like, what dreaming felt like, what freedom felt like.
Do you need to remember that there is more? How to run freely? What purpose feels like? What freedom feels like?
Some of us have decorated our prison walls so beautifully that we have forgotten that we’re sitting in a cell, wasting our lives. We don’t know there are chains that, though they no longer bind us, still tangle us up. We sit and listen to talks or read books about God, and we wonder why nothing changes when we so desperately want it to. We forget that we have access to the exit door of that cell.
OUR TANGLED THREADS
You have threads of life blowing around, possibly even strangling you — threads meant to bind together and become your unique, God-given contribution to a world in great need. And not just for a world in need. Our souls were made to find their home in God with His purposes for our lives. But while your heart is aching for purpose, to know what those threads are, how to untangle them, and how they will weave together, I want to remind you: no unique purpose for your life will fill your soul. The only One who will fulfill and settle your soul is God Himself.
We tend to think that if we land on our perfect purpose, we will finally be satisfied. Hear me: we have complete access to joy and purpose right now. Even with no grand vision from God, we have access to our Creator, and He is not hiding happiness from us. He gave it to us in the form of Christ. Everything we are going to talk about is just a response to our God.
Our significance doesn’t depend on a stellar performance. We matter because we are children of the living, breathing, reigning God of the universe. We matter because we were bought with the blood of the Son of our Father God. He “chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) and set us in our spots and in our time. He numbered our days and counts our hair. And we matter because He says we matter. This isn’t a journey about you suddenly finding a secret way to matter; it’s about realizing you already matter. You can deeply desire to make your few days here count in light of all that is ahead for us as children of such a God. That realization — that’s the open door to the cell we’ve built. That’s what makes us confront what’s been consuming us.
I’ve wasted a lot of my life. I grew up in a sickening chase to win people’s approval — approval that I could never catch. And so I gave most of my life to the cause of being liked. God was never enough for me.
It’s not a noble cause. It’s embarrassing, I know. But chances are that you aren’t noble either, and you’ve likely wasted your life on… something. But what if we just stop? What if we wake up? We are building mansions on sand when an enormous, steadfast, unmovable rock sits right beside us. For years I ran after uncatchable wind and built homes on sand until I finally noticed that wind never stops escaping us and sand never stops shifting. I was consumed with pride and self. I saw my sin, and God saved my soul. He set me free. And now all of us who love God are in it together, fighting to stay free and to free people around us because there is a God who never escapes us and never shifts. Everywhere I go, people’s eyes contain hurt similar to what mine did.
Is God real? Do I matter? Is there more than this? Is this all worth it?
Yes. I swear it.
If you were to get brutally honest about the hurts stopping you from dreaming, what words would fall out?
How might sharing those words help you see them differently?
In what ways can listening and learning about God while holding on to these worries be like “decorating your cell”?
How is it freeing to believe “this isn’t a journey about you suddenly finding a secret way to matter; it’s about realizing you already matter”?
What does our significance depend on? What does it not depend on?
READ & REFLECT
Read Ephesians 1:3-14 as you think about your responses to today’s questions. In light of these verses, why do we matter? How are we set free? What is the purpose of knowing God’s will?
After reading these passages, consider the answers to these two questions:
Who are You, Lord? What do You want for me?
Excerpted with permission from Made for This by Jennie Allen, copyright Jennie Allen.
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Are you dreaming? Or is fear hindering you? Let’s set aside time to be quiet in Jesus’ presence today and ask those questions. Who are You, Lord? What do You want for me? What is God saying to you? Come share with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily