My sister blessed me with a book by John Eldredge called Dare to Desire. It made me think about this concept more than I probably ever have. D-a-r-e to desire... John had obviously discovered that it takes guts to desire. God might just give it to you.
I have to be honest that I have not always been bold enough to desire. I have very big dreams in my heart, and I have whispered them to God occasionally. On this journey in my life there is more focus on dreams, God’s will for me and the possibility of fulfillment. I’ve been thinking a lot about a moment that, I believe, might have been a defining moment for me.
A few months ago my employer requested something of me that I really felt convinced is wrong. I felt strongly that I would have to compromise my character before God to do it, and I just couldn’t accept it. The thought of it caused anxiousness and upset. I’ve been unhappy at work for quite some time, but on this day, I felt it a cherry on the cake. I had to escape and breath; talk it over with God.
I took a drive to a nearby lake, all the way telling God how angry I felt that they could even consider this idea, venting my frustration, swinging my fists at heaven, having a rather intense ‘heart to heart’. How could this happen? I asked God that if I’m wrong, by all means, then show me, and let us resolve it between us, but I couldn’t settle down about this. I’ve had to deal with a lot of upset for a long time and I tried to be mature about it, but it was more like trying to suppress a volcano. This day the volcano erupted. I called out with great desperation: “God, I WANT OUT!!!”
IMMEDIATELY after I’ve uttered the words I felt such a rush of emotion. I felt scared and relieved all at the same time. I felt scared that God had heard me, and that maybe He would do something about my circumstance. (Ironic, isn’t it, how you can be afraid that God would hear you, and yet He knows every thought before you even think it.) I also felt relieved that I had finally said what I’ve been thinking for so long. I felt a kind of pride for having had the courage to call it by name, and not to whisper it anymore.
I’ve often seen it in movies: usually a couple having an argument in a public place, the conversation heats up, they yell and act out, and all of a sudden you realize that everyone has been listening, having stopped what they were doing, and staring at you intently. You feel embarrassed and flea from the room. I felt like the whole of heaven had sat up and taken note of what I had just uttered. I didn’t feel like I could flea the ‘room’...
I wanted to ‘apologise’, tell God that I didn’t mean what I said. That maybe, with His help, if I co-operate, we could do this better together. Maybe the circumstance is not that bad, I just need to grow more mature as a Christian, then I’ll be able to handle it, and then it, and then it won’t need to change after all. (Funny, isn’t it, how we negotiate with God?)
Being honest with yourself is scary – afterwards you cannot pretend that it is not what you think or feel, and change of some sort is imminent; a point of no return somehow.
As much as I desired it, I felt fear for God moving me out of my comfort zone; a place where being miserable has become acceptable for me – my normal, my familiar. When did I start settling for miserable?
Define ‘comfort zone’? Maybe you imagine a comfortable place (maybe a sofa), with your feet up, putting your head back, a steaming cup of coffee on the side table and a foot rub, no interruptions, not a care in the world. Or maybe for some it is the illusion of being on a tropical island somewhere, toes in the sand, an exotic pineapple umbrella drink, the sun on your face. However, that is very often NOT the comfort zone that people find themselves in. Strange how a comfort zone can be everything but comfortable...
Often it is a place like what mine used to be. A place where you’ve become familiar (‘friends’) with your bad circumstance; your pain, anger and being miserable most of the day, every day. “Rather the devil you know, than the one you don’t”, right? You’ve suppressed your dreams to the point where you almost don’t remember having it, and you’ve ‘accepted’ that your life is the best that it will ever get, calling it ‘contentment’. You encourage yourself that you should be grateful for at least having a job. Many are not that fortunate. You’ve become your own hero... In the meantime you exchange little pieces of your soul for a monthly salary cheque.
This has become my ‘normal’. But now I was realizing that it wasn’t good enough anymore. I have dreams in my heart, and big ones at it! The burden of carrying unfulfilled dreams also takes its toll... We have just become so numb that we don’t realize it anymore, and we’ve stopped looking for opportunities to make our dreams come true, stopped trusting God for the extraordinary.
Please, don’t misunderstand: it is good to be grateful for a job, and yes, many only wish they had a job, but this is about living a mundane existence because you don’t believe that you can have anything better. In this context that would be existing, rather than living! I believe that God wants us to have life abundantly, including living fulfilled lives with purpose.
To desire takes guts! You might get your dream, but you will have to give up some familiarities in order to have room to contain the dream. Many of you might have heard the saying that you can’t discover new oceans without losing sight of the shore. The scary bit is that you usually have to let go of the familiar first. You might feel a sense of empty handedness, but if you have your hands full, you won’t be able to receive what God has for you. Yes, to desire certainly takes guts!
A few days ago I felt that God was telling me that, should I choose to get into His river, I will be astounded. He wants to do more than I could even imagine. I wonder what it is like to be astounded by God. Only one way to find out... I guess I will have to Dare to Desire!