career · culture

why crushed dreams don’t equal a crushed future

We’ve all been through it before: an idea all of a sudden pops into our heads, and it starts to consume our minds. The more time we spend thinking about it, the more excited we get. Maybe we start to do research, ask questions, consult friends and family, and even pray about it!

Then we take the plunge. We embark on a journey that we have no idea where it’ll take us, but we step out in faith trusting that the Lord will provide. We believe that He might have put this idea in our heads for a reason, so why not try and see what happens?

And then, the worst case scenario actually does happen: our dreams and pursuits come crashing down. Our hearts are crushed because it feels as though we just spent all this time, effort, and even money on this idea, desperate to see it take off, but all it amounts to is a big pile of rubble.

Sound familiar? If you haven’t experienced this yet, I’m sorry to say, but you most likely will. It’s a hard reality to accept, but it’s true: we are pretty much guaranteed to fail at something over the course of our lifetime.

Can I be honest? It really freaking sucks. I think a lot of us Christians are prone to immediately default to the mindset of well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be! God closed the door and I have to move on. He’ll open another one soon enough!

But can we all agree that although this mode of thinking has its place, it doesn’t mask the fact that we just failed at something we were once super pumped about?

This subject has been weighing heavily on me recently. I’ve been wanting to learn about something new, but deciding on a direction to go in has left me feeling confused and empty. I loved going to school and getting my Electrical Engineering degree, but now I want to learn more about a different subject. While I’d love to get my Master’s Degree, y’all, school is expensive! After determining that actually attending college again most likely wasn’t an option for me, I decided to look at the hobbies and interests I already had.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m questioning what I want to do next, it often feels like a miniature mid-life crisis. Where do I turn next? What if I fail? What if it’s really embarrassing?

There are so many options out there nowadays, decisions like this can be super daunting, especially when some of those paths involve financial risk. Am I about to waste all this money on something that never really gets off the ground? What if that bad decision leads to financial instability and even ruin for our family?

There are so. many. things, friends. And what should we do when we catch ourselves questioning?

We pray.
We research.
We ask advice.
We seek God’s counsel.
We read His Word.
We intentionally wait in the quiet for an answer.

And it’s hard. It’s really, truly hard. I’m the type of person that likes to jump right in because I never know if that opportunity will all of a sudden slip out of my grasp.

But do you know what that shines light on? The fact that I have control issues. I’ll admit, it’s not easy to admit that!

As I’ve been praying through this, and my husband and I prepare to welcome our daughter into the world, I’ve seen God’s Word time and time again reflect and showcase His passion for my life.

So that got me thinking: what does God’s Word truly say about how He cares for us and our desires and passions? The book of Esther sheds some incredible light on this, and it helped me come up with three points about timing, provision, and reasoning behind it all.

God is looking for our trust in His plan, not his provision for ours.

Have you ever found yourself trusting that the plan you just laid out, detailed and organized, is bound to work because you seemingly thought of everything? You feel so prepared for anything that might come your way that you forgot the all-important truth: your plan isn’t your own. It really belongs to God.

This is a super sobering thought that I am in constant need of reminding. I love to list out all the possible bits and pieces I need to ensure success, but the one thing I forget the most is the simple act of meditating and prayer.

In Esther chapter 4, we see Queen Esther being confronted with a pretty huge problem. She had all the influence in the world because she was a royal leader, but she still had to abide by the rules of the kingdom. When Mordecai asked her to go speak with the King, she was worried because she was thinking about her own problems and what-ifs. Instead, Mordecai was placing his entire faith in the reality that God was going to provide a way out for his people. He trusted that God was going to come through because He knew how powerful of a God he served: no amount of rules or regulations was going to stop Him, and he saw Esther as being put in the right place at the right time.

Instead of leaning on my own mind for reassurance, I need to drop at the feet of God and hand over my to do list. By trusting in Him instead of my own knowledge and power, I need to understand that His provision doesn’t change based on how good I am or how well I serve Him. He will always be glorified, no matter what happens, and that should be the desire of my heart, no matter how many times I fail.

God wants humility at the heart of it all, not haughtiness.

Our world today teaches us that we can do anything we want if we set our minds to it. This is going to sound really controversial, but I don’t think we as Christians should be thinking this way.

Why, you may ask? Because our lives and our decisions shouldn’t be dependent on how much we set our minds on a prize, or how hard we work towards a goal. Shouldn’t it be about what God wants for our lives, and what path He wants us to journey down? Then we can be confident that if it’s what He wants, we are surely going to succeed.

Queen Esther was terrified about confronting the King to ask him to free her people. During that time period, if the queen or anyone else approached the King in his presence and they were not approved by him, they would instantly be killed. She hadn’t admitted yet that she came from a Jewish line (Esther 2:16-20), and he hadn’t even requested her presence (4:10-12). She feared for her life because she hadn’t been requested, and so she expressed that concern to Mordecai in the hopes of finding another solution.

But Mordecai wasn’t so easily fooled. With his faith planted firmly in God, he knew that she had been put in a place of authority for a reason. He knew she needed to trust that God was going to provide for her, and even if He didn’t, her people would still be saved another way. He was trying to get her past her fear and humble her heart to trusting in God.

Humbling myself before the Lord is one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done. When something doesn’t work out, we are forced to recognize that we aren’t good enough to do everything. We can’t always succeed. The more we lead with our own desires, and the more we build up our own ego, the less likely we are to hear God’s voice and receive clarity about what He actually wants us to do.

God redeems everything, both good and bad.

It is a whole lot easier for me to see how God provided in a chapter of my life that turns out good. But what about when things turn out badly? Doesn’t God still provide?

When Queen Esther approached the King, God provided. The King granted her request to approach him and spared her life. She was able to write a decree in the King’s name that her people could fight back for their lives, and they survived!

When the Israelites first ventured to Egypt, they found that the land was a blessing to them. Joseph was in charge of the entire country, and so he was able to feed his large family. They moved permanently to the country, where they grew and prospered (Genesis 47:11-12). But what happened four hundred years later? They were oppressed in that same area, and it appeared as though God wasn’t providing for them anymore (Exodus 1:8-14). But wasn’t He?

After all those years of pain and sorrow, God delivered His people from Egypt through Moses. He humbled their hearts and showed them that He never forgot and never stopped listening to their cries (Exodus 3:7-10). They journeyed through the wilderness, and although they suffered there as well, they did in fact reach the Promised Land (Joshua 3).

What does this teach us? Through the bad decisions we make, and the good paths we take, God is Lord over all of it. Even if we try to start a business that ultimately ends up flopping, He is going to redeem it. Even if we feel as though we just wasted years of our life investing in a relationship that ultimately ended in heartbreak, God is going to redeem it.

Friends, we need to understand that God always fulfills His promises (Isaiah 26:4). He isn’t flaky, and He doesn’t change. Just because we reach the end of the current road we’re on, that doesn’t mean the journey is over! It just means we need to take another road. Jumping onto another one is scary, and it requires faith. But like I said, God always fulfills His promises. And if He is Lord over all, and never changes, and promises to protect and love us, what do we have to lose?

Literally nothing.

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