He sits up the tone for the chapter by telling a story of three people he met in Africa, and then he goes on to write:
To create a different world is both a courageous act and a creative act. Life is a work of art. The canvas you paint first is your life. Then your life becomes the brush from which you paint that part of the world you touch while you are here on this planet. You are an artist. What work of art will you leave behind (p. 4).
This idea connects with the idea that you and I are sub-creators with God. The quality of our work begins with our character which flows out of our relationship with God. I am reminded what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians:
Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; NLT).
The type of building material we use is determined by our character and our character is determined by our faith in God. If our relationship God is poor or non- existence then our building materials will be poor, but if our relationship with God is on solid ground, then our materials will be of the highest quality.
The bottom line is that God has created you and me to have a positive impact in this world by ushering in His Kingdom into our little corner of the universe. This reality begins with the character we develop for our lives.
"There are times you have to see yourself and your future differently than everyone else. You have to be willing to dream of a life that seems unlikely or maybe even impossible" (p. 10). When we begin to have this conversation about living our dreams and doing something big I think it is important to remind ourselves of the context. This isn't about finding permission to pursue the dream of becoming a famous, the reality is that many who try to become famous fail because they lack the talent and resources to do so.
This talk about living the life of our dreams is about knowing the call God has placed on our lives and pursuing that even though it might not make sense to those around us. This is the place Jenny and I are at right now in our lives. We believe that God has placed a certain calling on our lives, but it doesn't make sense to do and financially it isn't the safe or the wise thing to do. We are often drawn away from the unknown of our call by what is safe, and in the process we miss out on what God desires to do through us.
I think this is a vital truth for us to remember:
There are dreams we try to recruit God into, and frankly I think he looks at us and says, Not on your life. God is not going to invest himself in a dream fueled by greed, arrogance, self-indulgence, and self-centeredness. Jesus spent much of his influence trying to get those who would listen to change what they cared about (p. 14).
What is important is the quality of our dreams. It is not enough that our dreams are big, but they must also be aligned with God's character and with what He is doing in the world. We need to take time to evaluate the quality of our dreams. Are they compatible with God or are they selfish in nature?
God only created one of you, and there is something that only you can do in this world.
"Living wide awake is about realizing that the world needs you to live up to your potential...The future needs you to dream God-sized dreams; these are the only kind God gets involved in. And if the future needs anything, it is God working through people" (p. 19).Amen, and the dream of my life is to empower people to do just that, to live out the God-sized dreams of their lives. I want to help people to live out the call God has given to them.
I don't think this needs any extra commentary; "Part of the way God works in us is he begins to give us dreams of the lives we could live or the people we could become if we would trust him and live courageously" (p. 21). When God has blessed us with a dream, now it is time to trust him and pursue it!
These are wise words as we begin the journey of fulfilling God's calling on our lives, the dreams He has placed in our hearts.
Our dreams, the ones God places inside of us, are a foretaste of our destiny. But there is a danger of wanting that dream so badly that your're willing to sacrifice your character. God will never sacrifice who you are for what you can accomplish. We are in danger when " getting there" becomes the most important thing to us. Even when you have the right dream, you can make the wrong choices (p. 22).With God it is not just about the end results, the end never justifies the means. This means we have to protect our character and our integrity. Who we are matters just as much to God as fulfilling our calling.
A key thought to this chapter: "As we begin to create the life of our dreams, we must answer for ourselves perhaps the most critical question that will direct and shape our future—what are you to embrace? This is a question of passion and compassion" (p. 27). It is essential that we take time and examine our lives. The apostle Paul wrote; For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned (Romans 12:3; ESV). As we discover our talents, passions, and desires we begin to receive clarity about our calling and the way we can impact the world.
With this talk about living the life of our dreams the key doubt which comes up is our failure in the past. We have doubts that we have what it takes to make our dreams become a reality. I know that I do!
What must you face? What fears haunt you? What failures have marked you? What darkness has consumed you and stolen from you, robbed from you, sucked out of your soul the dream God created you to flesh out? Maybe there's a dream buried deep inside your soul, and God is waiting to reconstruct it, to put all the bones back together. He is waiting to put muscle and sinew on it and wrap skin around it (p. 31).I think for most of us the beginning of living the life of our dreams is being poor in spirit. It is acknowledging that we don't have what it takes, that we have failed countless times in the past, and that only God has the power to help us. We give God our doubts, fears, and worries. We ask God to provide the courage, faith, resources, and strength. God wants us to succeed! He desires that we help bring His Kingdom into this world, and that means we can confidently put our trust in Him.
Erwin McManus, Wide Awake, Thomas Nelson (2008)