What childhood dream did you have growing up? You may have to do a bit of memory recovery, and just like digging for a blue shirt in a mound of laundry retrieve your long lost childhood dream…take a few minutes to recover it.
…now why aren’t you doing what you dreamed of? Either you wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t stomach the sight of blood, or reality hit when you pursued your dream but ended up having to take a 9-5 job to pay the bills.
I too had a childhood dream. At a young age I truly felt a calling to ministry. A middle school friend invited me to a local church youth program where I was introduced to Christ. As I grew older I began to pursue my ‘calling’ to serve the church. I attended Bible College and 5 years later received my Bachelor of Theology degree. During my last year of schooling I got married and worked as a youth pastor at a church plant. Unfortunately after just a few years my husband and I decided we needed to move on. It was the most defining moment in our faith journeys. We were burnt out and disillusioned with the nature and structure of the church.
For years we struggled to find a church to call home but we simply could not settle anywhere for an extended time. We attended regular services at a few churches where I occasionally helped with children’s ministry and would speak at different youth events. I also spent my time writing youth small group curriculum.
After years of what felt like we were just wandering and never settling we still felt like God had planted this calling to serve the church deep within our hearts. I wish I could tell you that the wandering is over and that deep sense of calling is presently being fulfilled.
What happens when God places a deep sense of calling in your life but your life looks different from what you thought it would? Was this call a misunderstanding? Did I hear God wrong? Was God using what felt like the wandering in the desert to develop something in me?
Youth promises you the world on a silver platter: You will have a successful job, a beautiful home, a loving and cute spouse and an all around fulfilled life.
Age on the other hand tests your faith and ability to endure challenges, both the petite and grandiose in kind. Whether it’s traffic, you’re out of milk and your cereal is already in the bowl, a friendship or relationship falling apart or a death in the family, the silver platter becomes a tarnished and worn out dish.
I once thought that because you have a calling on your life God would literally pave a road and line it with cheerleading angels who’d encourage and protect you all the way to your destination.
A call is always a call and God never ever walks away from us. The path is straight but not always sprinkled with the sweet smell of rose petals and sometimes is twined with thorns.
“The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are bought down by their own wickedness.” Proverbs 11:5
As I read this verse over and over again I tried to make sense of it. I always read it as God is going to make our paths straight (i.e. no bumps, curves, twists or turns) but the reality I have experienced and the reality of many Christian friends is not of this perfectly straight life path. Then I thought, “Wait! No one I know is blameless!” I’m not blameless so why should we expect straight paths? (Romans 3:20) But then I realized righteousness is partnering with God. Righteousness cannot be accomplished on our own but through dependency on God.
God can make us righteous and blameless through our humility. So I guess our paths can potentially be made perfectly straight!
My idea of a straight path is like drawing a line with a ruler. It’s straight and has no curve or angle to it.
Is it possible for the straight path of the blameless to have some bumps and curves? Because if I look at my Christian friends who love God and desire to do His will then the so-called straight path has been lined with disappointment, fear, anger, tears, joy, endurance, change, periods of waiting, frustration, success, spiritually dry periods, loneliness and challenge. This, to me doesn’t seem like a perfectly straight path.
What does it really mean that God will make our paths straight?
Reading these few verses as a young person messed with my idea of what my future should look like: a perfectly straight path. But as I reflected more on Proverbs 11:5 I came to realize that for years I was staring at my feet when I should have read these verses with my eyes. The pathway my feet travel on has ups and downs but the tunnel in which my eyes see is an unwavering straight path right to the face and heart of God. When our eyes are fixed on God the things of earth straighten out.
Your feet walk the path shaped with twists and turns but you tunnel your vision on God and He will straighten your outlook and change your perception so that whatever comes your way you will know that God is working all things out for the good.
Take for example Moses. Hebrews 11 lists many individuals that had a call and yet didn’t see complete fulfillment of that call in their lifetime.“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40)
Moses was special. He was no ordinary child. He had an important call on his life but despite his ‘call’ or being ‘special’ Moses allowed himself to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). His lifestyle choice doesn’t necessarily look like what I thought a ‘straight path’ should be. “He regards disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:26-27). The footpath he chose was rough but his sight was straight on the invisible.
When we realize that we walk with God on a roadway of ups and downs our outlook changes. *The author of “How To Walk With God” puts it this way, “…it is not about getting God into rhythm with us; it is getting ourselves into rhythm with Him. That is what it means to walk with God.”
It seems to me that even though I may have dreams and/or a sense of calling on my life God will use the bumps, curves, twists and turns to straighten my vision and help me to walk in rhythm with Him. Moses and many others, both past and present day, walk(ed) a rough road for something greater than themselves.
So back to the questions: What was your childhood dream? Was/Is this dream connected to a deep sense of calling? Now try not to focus on the specifics or have tunnel vision around the fulfillment of the calling. If your focus is on your feet (the bumps, twists, turns and curves in your life) then lift your focus to look at God who will take away your worries, fears and anxieties, and make a straight path to His face and heart. Don’t let go of that dream/calling but rather find delight in walking in rhythm with God and know that He is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28).
A straight path is not without bumps and turns but is easy to walk when our focus is on God who makes even the roughest roads straight. – MB
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