What’s the difference between a dream and a purpose?
Dictionary.com defines the word dream as “An aspiration; goal; aim.” Also, “A wild or vain fancy.” It defines the word purpose as, “The reason for which something exists, or is done, made, used, etc.”
Dreams are centered around what we want out of life, while purpose seeks what humanity needs out of us. The thorn in the side of human existence has forever been that we are a tragically self-serving race. We get so consumed by our ambitions and dreams that rarely do we stop to consider whether our goals are in alignment with our purpose. It’s not in the genetic construction of our souls to contemplate whether what we want is actually what we were created to be. Our dreams are spun into gold from the ideals, desires, and innate passions that fuel our notion of what it means to be happy. Purpose however, exists outside of what we want; it lives in the space of who God created us to be.
Why choose your purpose over your dream?
Dreams are man-made and temporary. No matter how long they last, we eventually wake up. For example, a successful vocalist may one day realize that her voice can no longer carry notes—smooth and effortless— the way it once had. And if said singer had made this vocal career her entire world and depended upon herself to nurture it, what would remain of her life once she awakened from her dream? Dreams fashioned, pursued, and purposed by human intentions will always have a shorter life expectancy than a God given destiny. As Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 informs us, the entire human experience is fleeting when under self-direction.
10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.
Another incentive for choosing God’s purpose over our dreams is that we have more freedom in His plan. When we hand over our raw materials to Christ, he can make us into anything in this whole wide world. After all, Moses tells us in Genesis 2:7, that “…The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” Could we have done more with that dust than God himself? Perhaps we would’ve fancied ourselves cooks and made mud pies or sculptors and created elaborate sand castles. Though, our most feeble nor our greatest hypothetical use of the sand can be acknowledged, because without the breath of life filling a heaping pile of dirt, we don’t exist.
Are our talents worthless?
Absolutely not. God gifts us with all manner of talent and skill and He certainly intends for us to use them. However, it is our choice to decide how we wield these gifts. God created all things to glorify Him: If you sing, sing unto the Lord. If you dance, dance unto the Lord. It took me a long time to admit that I was passionate about writing because I was afraid of loving something I wouldn’t be good at. And even when I finally mustered up the guts to create this blog, I was in it for my own benefit. I wanted to prove to myself that I was good at writing by being validated by others. My pride and need for approval made me overly critical of my writing. It became more of a burden than a joy or gift, and I’d go stretches of weeks, often months without writing a single word. I was misusing my gift by allowing it and not God to define me and eventually, it made me miserable.
Only up until a few weeks ago did God deliver me from that mindset. He told me to stop thinking that I had to achieve man- made merits and putting undue stress on something He gave me to enjoy. Whatever His will is for my gift will be accomplished through Him, not me. So, I let go. I gave my gift to God and ever since that day, I feel more free than I’ve ever been in regards to my writing. I traded in a gift; a talent; a dream, for a purpose. No, I don’t know the details and my purpose may not bear any resemblance to the dream I thought I needed, but it will be everything I never knew was waiting for me. It may not be bright and shiny, with flashing lights like I had dreamed, but it will be eternally fulfilling, spiritually satisfying, and a life that was hand chosen for me before I ever thought to dream my own dream.
I choose God’s purpose for my life over my dream(s).
Are You Willing to Give up Your Dreams for God’s Purpose?
Stay tuned for part II... 🙂