I just found mine. It was tucked away on a CD-ROM with all my digital life from ten years and four computers ago. It had been a college assignment, from Dr. John Allen, a rather well-loved advertising/public relations professor at my Christian university.
I liked Dr. Allen. He was a great storyteller, had a good sense of humor, albeit sometimes a bit on the sardonic and irreverent side. He was probably in his early 60’s, and if I had to define him, I would say Dr. Allen was what happened when hard-driving businessmen from the 1980’s slowed down and found Jesus.
He believed in hard work, success, and the prosperity message, and was poised to usher us into God’s destiny for us in achieving the American dream. Each class, he would give us some inspirational handout ranging in everything from the power of a positive attitude, to how to handle trick questions in job interviews. He made us read Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman in the World, and would frequently quote Mandino, Zig Ziglar, and other motivational speakers. In short, his class was full of warm fuzzies and hard work.
The bucket list, or as he called it, “100 Things to Do Before I Die,” was a soul-searching assignment we were to spend the entire term compiling. He would tell us that whenever he ran into his alum, he would always ask them where they were on accomplishing their list, and they always had intriguing answers.
The subtext being, “If I ever see you after graduation, I’m going to ask you about it and if you don’t have a good answer, you’re going to look like an idiot.” Point taken. Ironically, our semester with Dr. Allen would be his last. He passed away the following summer.
But, I have been thinking about him as I’ve looked over my list this week. In the decade since graduation, I’ve actually crossed off a number of things. More than I realized. And yet….And yet. It didn’t really look how I thought it would look.
Granted, I’ve changed quite a bit since then. My ideas on success have changed radically. I’d rather pursue happiness than wealth, and my free-flowing beatnik lifestyle is a far cry from the newly-minted businesswoman-to-be in a suit and heels that I was ten years ago..
So, as I look over my list, full of success and career goals, some of which I have accomplished, some that I have abandoned, others that are yet to be, I think about what it means to have dreams for our lives.
Dreams are beautiful. I live on dreams. But, I think it’s important how we dream. We can waste a lot of time chasing dreams, and lose a lot of money and relationships on the way. And it will all be worth it in the end, but only what’s destined by God will last. How about instead of dreaming dreams for our lives, we dream God’s dream for our lives? God’s dreams are perfect and he will make sure they come to pass.
Sometimes we are scared of God’s dreams. There are many reasons for this, some of it having to do with a lack of trust. We think if we dream God’s dreams for our lives, he will make us do something crazy like go preach to the cannibals in Papua New Guinea. Now, this is certainly noble. God loves the cannibals, but most of us…well, we would have to work on it. But God also loves what we love. As a matter of fact, God created us to love the things that we love. And, if he destined us for a purpose, does it stand to reason that his dreams for us are bigger than ours?
And as I look over my list, and my definition of success ten years ago, sitting in Dr. Allen’s class, I wonder what role I gave God in my list. Did I dream his dreams or my own? I seem to vaguely remember including him in my plans, but more in sense of, “Okay, God, this is what we’re doing. Are you coming or not?”
I wonder about the fight I have fought to get this far….which is not nearly as far as I would have hoped. Would it have been easier if I had dreamed his dreams? Maybe. Maybe not. I think about my tenacity in achieving my dreams. Did that come from God, or Winston Churchill, who said, “Never, ever, ever, ever give up.” I had listened well, but, it occurred to me, that’s not really in the Bible. In fact, the Bible talks about dying to ourselves.
So, I guess to wrap it all up, I wonder how to die to my dreams, and let God take over. It’s a dangerous idea. But God is full of dangerous ideas. But he is good.