Pleasing God without the Dreams.

silhouette photo of five person walking on seashore during golden hour

My Christian college took the idea of the secular “American Dream” and Christian-ized it to be preached in a godly way to the Christian university population. What was the American Dream became this Christian perspective: if you play to the strengths God has given you, you will be able to “Build a life that matters.” What I took away from that was that, so long as I was playing to my God-given strengths, I would have no problem finding a fulfilling job where I truly made a difference. And, of course, if I was appreciated at work, I should be able to make enough money to live independently. Along with that, I’d come home from work confident and unstressed–ready to use my strengths outside of work to build fulfilling relationships and encourage my friends, spreading joy wherever I went.

Yeah, yeah, I know the American Dream isn’t real, but this sounded like it could merge with my faith. It also sounded pretty darn nice: use the gifts God’s given you and, in return, he will provide fulfilling satisfaction. Why not? I mean, God’s totally in the center of that equation, so it’s fair to believe he’ll honor that system, right? He wants to be in the center of our lives.

God created me to accomplish things beyond what I could imagine. He has great plans for me.  Ephesians 2:10 has been quoted to me countless times: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He set up my fulfilling life before I was even born! There is good stuff out there for me!

When I graduated college, I had no clue what career I wanted to pursue, but seeing as how I had wrapped school up earlier than most and I finished valedictorian, I clearly had God’s blessing. So I was off to find and then offer the world my amazing, God-given strengths!

So far I’m finding my story far less picturesque than I was led to believe it could be. I did find a job and moved away independently. It was even at a Christian camp, so that seemed a god place to grow God-given strengths.

But then, with this good set up, out of the blue, I was asked to resign and I returned to my parents home and started working retail.

Every so often my college will ask for updates with questions like, “Have you gotten married? Started a new job? Achieved a new goal? Share your updates with us!” I delete the email in shame thinking about what “pride” I’d bring my school if I told them, “No, I actually got fired from my job and then started a job a high schooler could do. My boyfriend and I ran into a hard patch and I don’t even have goals to aim for!”

What about God carrying through on my “building a life that matters”? What about my strengths being appreciated and changing the world? What about my confidence soaring?

silhouette of man and woman under yellow sky

And most days, carrying on my daily life, working my high school job from my parents house, I think about how I let myself down. How I let my school down. And, evidently, how I let God down. I was told God has great plans for me. Clearly, I’ve failed something, and missed out on those. I assure you, right now, I am not living out any great plans.

Yesterday I read the following: “But Jesus did live with family, and, as Betsy Ricucci points out, that’s all he had done at the time the Father proclaimed, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). ‘What had Jesus done to receive such praise? Nothing but live in his own home, honoring his parents and serving his father’s carpentry business. Apparently that was enough to please God.'”

And Luke shared with me the other day from a book he was reading. He said you can live your life trying to please God, or you can live your life trying to trust God. When you try to please God through your works, you are not accepting the fact that he is pleased with you completely regardless of your actions. However, when you live your life with the goal of learning to trust God (even in the simple things), you are doing what he created you for: you are pleasing him. Your existence is bringing him joy.

woman riding on swing during sunset

I don’t know how to accept this truth. Too long I have been caught up in the “God has great plans for you. The moment you are living in his great plans, both you and God will find the ultimate fulfillment.” But the truth that Betsy Ricucci and Luke’s book point out is that, even in my parents house, even without career goals, even having been fired, even when Luke and I hurt each other through our imperfections, even in the uncertain mundane, every moment of my existence is pleasing to God.

Oh Father, help my unbelief!

5 thoughts on “Pleasing God without the Dreams.

  1. BethAnne, Dearest Friend,
    Let’s take it 1, or more, step(s) further: GOD wants to be your Husband. Look for the progression of human maturity in the BIBLE. Starts out with GOD as Creator, then LORD and Master, then a friend to some, like David and prophets… At times GOD shows His intention to be our Husband:

    Isaiah 54:5 “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.”
    Jeremiah 31:32 “…not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.”
    Ezekiel 16:8 “Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God.”

    *** And let’s not forget the not-so-subtle book of Songs of Songs. My parents forbade me to read that as a child. Without getting weird, that book represents GOD’s ultimate desires for us.

    Consider Genesis 2 when GOD says “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Some scholars define that word as “all” “one” all+1. Selah… So, GOD went back inside the man to make woman (not from scratch) to fit, help, suit, love, and to connect in the most intimate way possible- in the covenant of marriage. But whoa, some scholars believe that GOD went through the same thing in the previous chapter. HE was not content with just His created beings, but GOD wanted someone on HIS level to love. So HE reached inside Himself and breathed His life into human, who is now a piece of Earth made divinely alive, and capable of loving GOD on His own level. As a lovely young woman, mature and facing marriage – [to a strong and handsome lad, seasoned beyond his years, and mad over you… (sorry, required bro-code for Luke… 😉] Anyways, you can now have conversations with your Mother that you couldn’t 10 years ago, but you’re mature now…
    So just consider this in phases:

    Phase 1. Humanity sees GOD as Creator, LORD, Master, Boss, In Charge One, Giver of Orders to be Obeyed, so on

    Phase 2. Jesus comes with a new understanding, John 15:15-
    “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
    “I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]”
    “I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate and cherished friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father.”

    Phase 3. 2000 + years later, there is a strong sense among believers that GOD is calling humanity to maturity – as His Bride. In just our humanity, it would be weird to have a child, raise that child to be your spouse. That’s crazy, harmful, illegal. But, in the Spirit, that’s exactly what is happening, and there is where humanity finds our true identity. And that now, not when we die and go to Heaven.
    I hope we can talk soon, so I can tell you the story of how this became real to me.
    Love You Lots
    Levi
    P.S.
    I recommend the book “The Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards
    A sample from the introduction
    “The Lord is beckoning every believer into a lifestyle of unhindered devotion. Through the Song of Songs, Jesus extends the invitation for a relationship with Him that defies natural understanding. It is mysterious yet tangible, satisfying, and wonderful. Dive into The Divine Romance and watch as His love lays a foundation of confidence and identity. Journey with us as we walk step-by-step through the Song of Songs. Each day, you will find a short encouragement and a prayer, but most of all, you will discover Jesus’ unrelenting love for you. Take time to soak in the devotion of the day. Give yourself an extra moment to let the glory that flows through these words penetrate your heart. Allow the Lord to breathe upon you and awaken places of your soul that have been weary, dry, and asleep. You are God’s masterpiece—beautiful, unique, and priceless. It is our prayer that you will emerge from these devotions understanding just how loved and powerful you are.”

    Like

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