Thanks to Christy Nockels and her amazing podcast, The Glorious in The Mundane, for the inspiration of the bullseye image!
God created us to dream. Our dreams are not meant to taunt or tease us. They are not an accident. They are God-given, on purpose, for a purpose.
The problem for most of us, though, is that we start with a dream. God grant me this…God do this work in my life…God fulfill this dream…
We decide what our dreams are, then take them to God and ask that he make them happen. We dare to stand before the creator of dreams, the creator of imagination, and say: I want this thing, please make it happen. I know what’s best.
And then, when our dreams don’t come true, we blame God. We think that perhaps he doesn’t care about our dreams. We think that perhaps, he doesn’t want what is best for us. We think that perhaps, there is no point in dreaming.
The reality, of course, is that there is no bigger dreamer than God. He invented dreams and passions and creativity and placed them inside all of us. But – It doesn’t start with a dream – it starts with him.
God has been teaching me about dreams lately, but in the most unusual of ways. He has showed me the paradox of dreams; that we don’t start with the dream, we start with the dream giver.
We start, with God.
Picture a bullseye.
In the center of the bullseye is God, and the assignments he has given us on a daily basis. For me, and for you, our jobs each and every day are the people and things right before us. It isn’t a mystery. There isn’t something to figure out. Who you serve and what you are “supposed” to be doing is right in front of you. For me that is my husband, my family, and the people that God continuously brings into our home and life. For right now, there isn’t “something more” to discover. What I’m supposed to be doing, is what I’m already doing.
The concentric circles, or outer circles, are what God is doing. Our hopes and dreams are in these circles. This is the place where we want to start because this is flashy and fun and super exciting to talk about at parties. But this is not where we start. We start, in the bullseye.
God has shown me that I need to do a better job of discerning hard work from striving. Motherhood is hard work. Marriage is hard work. Homeschooling is hard work. Some days, these are not the things I want to do because they are hard. Never-the-less, they are the god given gifts and responsibilities that I have and get to serve. I get to be a wife. I get to be a mom. I get to stay home and homeschool. I get to do this work. Staying in my bullseye requires hard work, and I need to be ok with hard work.
Striving, on the other hand, is what we do when we desperately try to bring something into fruition. Striving looks like obsessions, distraction, and selfishness. Striving is our attempt to do what only God can do. We strive when we attempt to accomplish outer circle tasks.
The outer circle is for God, and God alone. The outer circle is for him to accomplish, or if he has already accomplished it, then it’s for him to reveal to us in his own timing. We can’t hurry or rush or hustle enough to accomplish outer circle tasks. When we attempt to do this, though, that is called striving.
The opposite of striving, of course, is rest. And we rest most easily, in our bullseye.
God wants us to be with him before we do something for him. -Lysa TerKeurst
All of us want to know who we are, what it is we are supposed to do with our life, and how to make this life count. But we can’t start with those things. We can’t start with us. We must start with the person who made us, and who will accomplish all of those things through us if we allow him.
When we stay in our bullseye – in the knowledge of who God is and where he has placed us in this very moment in time – then we free ourselves from the impossible weight of trying to accomplish what isn’t ours to do. We return to our creator and ask that he continue to remake us into the person he has made us to be. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are “his workmanship.” So often the confusion and frustration that we feel in trying to discover “who we are,” though, is that we keep our eyes trained on ourselves. We will never discover who we are apart from Christ. When we start by learning who he is, though, we naturally start to discover who he made us to be.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…Philippians 1:6
Last week I posted about getting the desires of your heart and referenced Psalm 37:3-4:
I believe we have it all backwards by starting with our dreams and then asking God to bless them. I believe that we try to fool ourselves and God by deciding what our dreams are, then attempting to force his hand into giving us those desires by our human efforts at delighting in him.
What if we started by trusting. By doing good. By cultivating faithfulness. By longing for and delighting in his presence. Then coming to him with open hands, asking that he give us dreams. Ask that he give us desires specifically for our heart.
The verse doesn’t say that he will fulfill your wish. It says he will give you the desires of your heart. He will give you desires that will speak to the unique way you were created, for your unique purpose, for the unique plan that he has for your life. He will give you that desire, and then invite you to step out in faithfulness to pursue it.
God wants to give us the desires of our heart. Literally. He wants to give you desires.
The more we know about God, the more we know about ourselves and the closer we get to understanding the specific ways that he made us. He will give us dreams that are more satisfying, more exciting, and more exotic than anything you could possibly think up on your own. It’s incredibly boring to chase your own dreams. Why? Because we are boring. No one can out-god, God. No one can out-think, out-dream, out-imagine him. So let’s stop settling for second hand dreams and start asking for dream maker kind of dreams. Let’s start at the source. Let’s start, in our bullseye. We don’t need to worry about the how or the when or the why; that’s God’s business to figure out. That’s outer ring kind of stuff. All we have to do is know him, and do the work that is right in front of us.
Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you remain in me. John 15:4
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4
In John 15:4, Jesus tells us to remain in him, and in Psalms 37:3, “befriend” literally means feed. Feed on faithfulness. Let your faithfulness to God be your nourishment and strength. As a branch must stay connected to the vine in order to survive and thrive, so must we stay connected to our vine if we ever hope to grow and flourish. At the heart of a bullseye mentality is the desire to scale back, in order to spring forth. As we scale back and tend to the simple but serious task of allowing God to reveal who he is and who he has made us to be, the natural side effect, is growth. The truth of who God is will feed our soul, our vision, and our dreams. It is the truth of who God is that is the fertile soil for vision. It’s not our own imagination or passions. God can work through those things, and does, but first, we start with him.
The hard reality is that too many of us are too “too” to remain. We are too tired. Too busy. Too distracted. In order to remain in our bullseye, we have to know what isn’t in it. We have to be willing to say no to the people and things that are outer circle people and things at best. We live in a culture that says we are supposed to do everything and we are supposed to do it well, giving it 110%. This is simply not true. You aren’t supposed to do it all. You can’t. You aren’t God. God is God. Scale back, refocus, stay in your bullseye.
Remain in him. Remain in your bullseye. Know God and do the work that is right in front of you. Allow your ever growing knowledge of who God is to feed your ever growing understanding of who he made you to be, and what it is he has called you to do. Allow God to accomplish the things in your outer circles. And remain connected to our source of life, our source of hope, and the source of dreams beyond our wildest imagination.
You will find the dreams you’ve been longing to dream at the intersection of who God is and who he has made you to be.