Have you had a life-long dream? Aspirations of, you can become anything, fed by the encouragement of family, school and all the rest? Have you relished the day when the world will take notice? The day when history pages will be filled with the advancements made by your efforts? Did you find as time passed your dream seemed a certainty? Then it happened, like a ravenous wolf tracking and taking down its prey, the dream was devoured. It’s rotting carcass lay in a pile of steaming stench, either due to unexpected job loss, a health loss or simply realizing it couldn’t be done. The dream died the death of a thousand deaths. The death of a salary. The death of fame. The death of world change. Gone like a whisper with no recognition, no statesmanship, and no powerful influence. Only the realization of a normal, everyday human existence remains. Now what?
A Dreams Death is God’s Grace
In the darkness of that reality is where I found myself. As I began to recover from the tyranny of what seemed like life’s cruel decree, God showed up. He used the death of a dream to birth the life of another. What seemed to me a horror, played out in a night terror, turned out to be a new script. The author and finisher of my faith brought forth a sanctification revelation. He exposed my sinister heart’s desire. It longed for significance, not in Christ, but in my dream. My longing for living the dream was to be noticed; to be thought of as a life well spent. Blurred reality became clear, realizing the power of God’s grace superintended the entire process. My loss wasn’t lucks deficiency, it was God’s supremacy. As hope in self-significance took its final breath I mourned in self-pity. I threw a childish fit. “I could have been something… I could have made a difference… I could have had what I always wanted, significance.”
Strong pride says I am better than you. Weak pride sulks because it didn’t get its way. Weak pride becomes strong when the pity for oneself is made into an identity—its idolatry. Paul tells us God did not create our work to identify who we are. God created who we are to identify his work (Ephesians 2:10).
Many times, I have wallowed in the prideful pig sties of the prodigal, scavenging for my idol of significance. Feeding on the slop of what will never be always starves the present moment and hinders future grace. But grace wouldn’t be grace if it could be so easily thwarted. By grace in him, Jesus offers us an everlasting significance. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
My hunger and thirst for significance is always satisfied when in Christ. Knowing he gave me eyes to see this truth reveals he is doing what he promised—making me into his likeness; conforming me to his image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Glory of God in the Simple
I am reminded of so many in Scripture who, by worldly standards, failed the significance test. Ruth, a Moabite widow. David, a simple shepherd. Peter a feisty fisherman. And one I often identify with, Balaam’s donkey.
Paul’s words echo here:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
In summary, not many were significant.
God uses the worlds standard of insignificance, in significant ways (1 Corinthians 1:27). God has made clear his power is perfect in [our] weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Because we are in him and his Spirit is in us we can rejoice! We are heirs of the world and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 4:13) (Romans 8:17). That is the good news of the Gospel. Not the here and now significance, but the imperishable, undefiled and unfading inheritance of him (1 Peter 1:4).
Often, we are cut when we pick up the splintered pieces of broken dreams. The tiny slivers are painful. The effort required to remove the soul piercing fragments, seems at times, hopeless. But hopelessness is dead. We serve a God who hung death on a cross and birthed hope. And this hope found in the risen Christ calls out to all who hear his voice. So those who have ears, let them hear. Arise! Let us awake from sedated apathy (Isaiah 60:1). We cannot afford to sleep in the place God has called us. It may seem our current occupation is of little regard, but this too is a lie. We must meditate on the blood bought promises of God (Joshua 1:8). To work as unto the Lord and not unto men (Colossians 3:23). Serve people with the love of God in the strength he supplies (1 Peter 4:11). Realizing when we do something for one of the least of these, we did it for the Lord (Matthew 25:40). Giving all glory to him, even in the simple, like eating and drinking (1 Corinthians 10:31). This is what significance looks like for the redeemed. Serving the Lord with gladness and loving others as yourself. What could be more hope-filled than that?
Fuel for the Battle
Remember, we are in war. We make war against our sin by putting it to death, by the Spirit. Our fuel for the battle is the sword of the Spirit. Therefore, never forget, it isn’t the number of pages written about you or me which bring significance, it’s the words found in the pages written about him. Our life long significance can only be real, if Christ’s real significance is in us. Run the race. Press toward the mark. It’s reality, it isn’t a dream, and its significance rests in him.