Follow your dreams or your mission?

By Erika Rizkallah

Follow your dreams.

In our individualistic culture we’re bombarded with the idea. All forms of media fill our heads with bucket lists and the notoriety of easy celebrity.

mountain lake 1

I admit I’ve been fascinated with following my dreams since I was a kid. I was convinced I could be so many things: a model, a marine biologist an Egyptologist . . .

It didn’t matter I was too short and plain for modeling, or that I was afraid of fish and  hated sand. Those careers appealed to me. Then the reality that I lacked certain skills became obvious and I settled for the unglamorous job of working in human resources.

secretary-338561_1920

Until recently I pursued some other dreams but chronic illness, aging and parenting issues edged them out, making them seem frivolous. I struggle with that – after all, aren’t we supposed to follow our dreams?

I wonder if it’s a modern construct. If it’s part of Paul’s warning about the last days, People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God . . . 3 Timothy 1-5

fall-163496

So I looked to the Bible for wisdom. I found nothing about following dreams. I looked to Jesus’ life and wondered about his dreams. Was he content with his carpentry career?  Did he talk to his buddies about it?

Then it hit me. We were his dream of the future.

He focused ceaselessly on God’s purpose, not veering from his mission. Mark 1:21-39 offers a clue. He taught with authority in the Capernaum synagogue and dramatically drove a demon out of a man. Later he went to Peter’s house and found his mother-in-law suffering with a high fever. Jesus healed her and that evening the people brought him all the sick and demon-possessed. The Bible says, the whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many and drove out many demons.

constant-63613

Early the next morning he left the house and went to pray in a solitary place. Peter and his friends found him saying, “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 

He was so focused on his mission that he left the comfort of Peter’s home and the certainty of local celebrity to spread God’s good news to others in the region.

We benefit as a result of his obedience and in turn, his dreams for us (and himself) came true. It seems to me that when we follow God’s purpose for our lives, somehow they intersect.

What about you? Do you find God’s purpose and your dreams are in sync? Please share and tell us how!

 

Bloom: living and thriving in God’s great garden

Pressure. We all feel it at one time or another. It’s the feeling of being squeezed, suffocated and ultimately stagnating.

Stagnating is a fancy word for being stuck.

I almost wrote that I’m not sure why I’ve felt this way lately but that’s a lie. As women we can inadvertently become potbound. Being potbound looks like this . . .

IMG_2175

I hate when I see this in one of my plants because it means that as the gardener, I’m not paying attention. I’m not giving this girl room to grow (all my plants are girls).

If I’d taken better care of her she wouldn’t be in this mess, so now I have to tease her roots a little – I call it tickling. Then I have to move her into a different pot.

IMG_2178

When I do this she will thrive and bloom.

It’s important to note that as a human, I’m a flawed gardener. But God is never flawed. He never forgets to water, prune and tickle the roots of his precious children. Sometimes he keeps us in one season as preparation for another.

Now I realize that God’s been doing this for me. After living potbound for a season he’s moving me into a new place where I’ll blossom, bloom and flower – and ultimately produce fruit for his kingdom.

Oh how I love spring and the changes it brings!

IMG_2216

Your turn: Do you recognize the season God has you in? Are you potbound, growing or blooming?

“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my father.” Jesus (John 15:7-8)

Still Dreaming? This book will move you!

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney

When I mentioned my struggle about dreams to my close friend Terri she instantly shot back, “What about your guy? That author who wrote that dream book you love so much.” Her reminder was a gift from God.

When I said, “This book will move you!” I meant it. It inspired me to pursue my dream of moving from my hometown in the Washington DC area to the beaches of North Carolina. The book is Wide Awake by Erwin Raphael McManus.

Wide Awake

I didn’t hesitate. I pulled it off my bookshelf and began reading immediately (again).

When I grow up I want to write like Erwin.

My take on the premise of the book is that God works his purpose in and through all of us, but we have to live wide awake – we have to dig deep to discover the potential lying within. One of my favorite chapters is about staying focused on the dream.

He writes, “If you don’t lock into the life God has called you to live, you will find yourself pulled and torn by everyone else’s desire and expectation for your life. . . If you do not develop the ability to say no to many important things, you’re going to lose the big yes of your life.”

Ain’t that the truth! This is where I have trouble – being pulled in different directions by others.

But here’s the amazing part. Midway through the book, God opened the door of opportunity to pursue one of my life’s dreams. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for 25 years but was starting to think it would never happen.

You know what? I took the opportunity. I’m in. I know it’s going to take loads of energy and faith to see it through, but I’m grateful for the chance to try.

God, if you read my blog, thank you for giving me a YES after all this time.

And of course, I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking to live wide awake too!

Your Turn: Do you have a delayed dream you’re praying about?

 

 

 

Dreams in the making …

Lately, I’ve been thinking about dreams. Not the kind of dreams we have when we go to sleep at night, but the kind of dreams residing in our hearts. Do you know what I mean? Those dreams that float in your mind like clouds and frustrate you because they seem out of reach?

DSC_0223

The ones that won’t go away, despite your attempts to bring yourself back to earth?

It’s on my mind because somehow – in the glorious mess of life – I think I lost mine. Or maybe I’ve done such a great job at pushing them away, that they just tease me like a playground bully.

So much of our modern culture is centered on dream chasing.

Motivational coaches shout encouragement from pimped out platforms. The other day I heard a commercial for Joel Osteen’s new radio channel. In his spooky whispery voice he said, “If you want to see a miracle, be a miracle.”

Huh?

Bruce AlmightyActually, that quote as also been attributed to Morgan Freeman in the movie Bruce Almighty and some random English teacher named Steve Juster. But still. What does it mean?

Or how about this one, “You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” Joel Osteen

As a Christian, am I really supposed to be about making all my dreams come true? Or am I to glorify God through my relationship with Jesus? Is it my “fame” I’m seeking or His?

But then I wonder . . . what if these dreams aren’t solely mine. What if they’re God’s dreams for my life and it’s not a playground bully teasing me, but Him wooing me?

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 37:4 which says: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

God’s given me the desires of my heart over and over again – can I really ask for more? How do we tell the difference between the desires of our hearts (the ones he wants to give us) and the dreams of our own making?

Your turn: What’s your take on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!