I have been doing the online Bible study “Defiant Joy” by Candace Payne and doing the YouTube live videos on Monday nights with Mandisa, the singer. The online study began August 13 and will end September 24. It has been joyful for certain, but it has been thought provoking too. Yes, I could be doing this study by myself, and you could too, especially if you missed the window of dates it was offered online. But, I encourage you to do it with your ladies class, study group, or friends because just a little bit of discussion over things that are in the study guide make them become more real when talking or listening to other people.
I had one of these “more real” moments last night when we were discussing the homework, or “funwork” as Candace refers to it in the study guide. One of the things you could do was simply write down big hopes or dreams in the space provided because last week was about hope and how it is the anchor of joy. Mandisa asked for people to share their hopes and dreams if they did that section, and in the live comments feed became a blur with people writing down trips they wanted to take, places they wanted to see, things they wanted to do and things like that. A few people shared hopes they had written that had already come true with in that week, like hoping their house would sell and it did.
I sheepishly wrote, “I did write down hopes and dreams, but sometimes I get worried that if I get hung up on my hopes and dreams, that I won’t follow God’s will. Anyone else?”
No one in the comments whizzing by really answered me, but Mandisa spoke wisdom that was a direct answer and it gave me a whole new perspective on my hopes and dreams. I’m not sure how it even started, because I don’t think she read my comment out loud or anything, but she said the verse that said God will give you the desires of your heart if you delight in him.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart
The big thing was if you take delight in the Lord, or if you are seeking first the kingdom of God, another verse someone brought up quickly in the comments, your hopes and dreams can become your reality. It is so simple, yet so profound, that if we are putting God first, then our hopes will line up with God because we are desiring what God desires. Why had I never thought of it that way?
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you
She probably didn’t linger too long on that point, but it was long enough that I could just breath this sigh of relief. My hopes and dreams may not come to fruition in the way that I picture them today, in this very moment, but I shouldn’t be afraid to dream them. Right about then, someone brought up the song “Dream Small”, which is now echoing in my ears, so I’m going to share it here:
As I reevaluate my hopes and dreams and I can say with confidence, “None of these are against God’s kingdom, they are good things, and I am trying to figure out this life and what God intends, desires, and has planned already.” This is where free will comes in, and this is a turn the discussion didn’t take last night. The great part is, being part of the group chat and this discussion got me thinking of free will after realizing that beautiful truth about God fulfilling desires.
I have a lot of big hopes and dreams, but I know not all of them can happen all at once. Since I am chasing the kingdom of God, should a door open, it is up to me to choose whether or not to go through. God may open several doors, and I might have to figure out what my greatest desire is. Or God might make one door really big and obvious, but it will still be up to me to go through or not. That, to me, is kind of cool that we are given those choices.
It is like when someone hires me to do their graduation photo’s for them. I know they will want portraits and some unique shots. Then I get to know them a little, and I take pictures or give up ideas that line up with their hobbies or personalities, things they hadn’t thought of.
I actually just hired an artist to create a logo for me and my sculpture work. I gave her an idea of what I wanted and the message I wanted to get across. In the end, she is the one who is creating the work. Just like I am the one who takes the photographs during a senior shoot and edits them later.
In either case, if the client decided to micro manage, you can bet it would probably hinder the artists abilities. If I had a teen telling me exactly the pictures they wanted, and never took my advice of trying a new angle, or letting me add a vignette to the photo, sure, they would get what they want, but they would miss out on even more options and ideas that would still have them at the center of it. If I micro managed the artist creating my logo, I might never get to see it with the options of different fonts or colors that ultimately might look better than what I had in mind. My idea would still be center, but it would be lacking the options and talent of the graphic designer whose specialty is to create something like that.
If I try to micro manage God, because I am so set on my hopes and dreams, then I might miss out on doors he is opening for me because I have tunnel vision on the wall I have to knock down instead. It becomes a delicate balance of hoping and dreaming and keeping my eyes open for all the options God, the greatest artist of all, wants to give me as I am chasing after the kingdom.
And by the way, here is a preview of my logo. What do you all think?