Hope When Goals and Dreams Collapse

Hope When Goals and Dreams Collapse

We all have those events we are looking forward to in the future. At the same time, we have things that we wish would hurry up and happen or be over very soon. This is just part of the rhythm of life.

Planning, wishing, scheduling, and dreaming begin at a very young age and extend to old age. My little boy is already talking about riding the school bus and going to school one day, and we even hear older people who talk about not having enough time in their day to complete all their tasks!

Take a look at this list of “if only’s”…

If only I had a better job…

If only my car would quit breaking down…

If only my adult children loved the Lord…

If only I could retire…

If only my aged parent wasn’t so disagreeable…

If only I could quit buying diapers…

If only I could make better decisions and sin less…

If only I could finish high school and go to college, get married, and move on with life and my career…

If only I could lose 10, 20, or 30 pounds…

If only I had more money in the bank and my bills were lower...

If only my child pitched fewer temper tantrums…

If only I pitched fewer temper tantrums!!!...

If only I had better health…

If only my family member was well…

If only I could work less but still have enough money to make it…

If only things could just go back to the way they used to be…

If only I could have a baby…

If only my house or car was paid off…

If only my children were still small…

If only my husband would listen to me…

If only my family members were still here…

Besides our heart-longing “if only’s” we all enjoy looking forward to those special events… holidays, birthdays, vacations, summer camp, weddings, family visits, etc.

Goals and dreams in and of themselves are not bad. They are, in fact, very healthy and can provide motivation and excitement to life.

This post has actually bloomed out of a couple goals and dreams I have that, so far, haven’t worked out the way I thought they would. They are simple goals and dreams, and you may even think they are kind of silly, but not too long ago I found myself allowing them to be a distraction in my life, and I had to work on that area, and I continue to work on it.

There are two main ways goals and dreams can become distractions in our lives.

Number One… Goals and dreams can become distractions when we focus on unfulfilled goals and dreams or the fact that our dreams aren’t taking place in our timetable.

I don’t know about you, but when I decide I want something to happen, I’m not always the most patient person. I’m not very good at completing puzzles because I want them finished! When we allow our thoughts and minds to be consumed with what we want and the fact that it’s just not happening fast enough or maybe not even happening at all, we get disgruntled, irritable, and act flat out ugly at times.

Let me give an example of something that may seem trivial. Say I have a piece of furniture that looks plain awful and I want to refinish it. Is that in and of itself a bad goal? No, of course not! Well, even though it’s in my plans to refinish the furniture, it’s not happening because I have too many other responsibilities or maybe the funds are not there to complete the project. So I have two choices. I can look forward to the day I am able to make my piece beautiful again and go on being happy with my life, or I can choose to get bitter and disgruntled about how ugly my furniture is and what a raw deal I have been given, and I can treat others in a bad way just because of my stupid piece of furniture! Now you may say my example is crazy, and it is, but how often do we act foolishly, oftentimes over meaningless issues, simply because we are focusing only on the unfulfilled dreams and the things that aren’t happening in our timetable?

Proverbs 16:3—Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

If we commit our goals and dreams to the Lord, He will establish our plans for us. We don’t have to take things into our own hands and focus on our timetables and how things aren’t working out for us. If our goals and dreams are committed to Him, we can trust Him for the outcome.

Jeremiah 29:11—For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

So instead of focusing on what’s not working out for us, we have to commit our ways to the Lord, and trust that He knows the plans. If we focus on praying and talking to the Lord about our “issue” instead of focusing on the issue itself, we will be so much more settled and at peace.

Psalm 143:8—Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Number Two…Goals and dreams can also become a distraction when we live only for the future.

So many times we get caught up living for the future and what is coming next rather than living in the present and living for today. The Bible says in Psalms, THIS (not tomorrow or the weekend or next month or in a year), but this is the day the Lord has made and we need to rejoice and be glad in this day.

Psalm 118:24—This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

We look forward to tomorrow when today is filled with too many commitments or overwhelming responsibilities, but it is vital to be present in the events of today and enjoy the blessings of this day. We can’t be so caught up in what is coming in the future that we miss the blessings and promises given for the present day. Don’t get caught in the trap of living for the weekend!

It is easy to become mentally “checked out,” but we have to remind ourselves to live in the moment and in the now.  Paul learned to live content in the moment. He could have mentally checked out in that awful prison cell, but he was joyful and made the most of the opportunities he had.

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So you may say, how can I quit living for the future and quit being disgruntled about my plans not working out in my timetable?

Well, it’s easy to instruct how to have the correct response, and it’s easy to know what the correct response is, but the hard part is actually living out the correct response.

First of all, we can’t live in past failures and mistakes. We can pick up the pieces where we are today and begin afresh. We are all in this journey of life together, and none of us have it figured out at this point.

Lamentations 3:21-23

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Next, we have to love the Lord with our heart, soul, and mind. We have to love God more than our plans.

Deuteronomy 10:12—And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

The two previous instructions are sometimes extremely difficult to actually carry out in real life, so the third thing we can do is simply pray about it, and be honest with the Lord about the fact that we are having a difficult time doing what we know we need to do.

The other day, my preschool-aged baby boy said, “I have to know the right pieces to put this puzzle together…God is counting on me!” Well, we may not know all the correct pieces of the puzzle, but if we pray and ask God for help, He will help us put the puzzles of our lives in the correct order. He is counting on us to ask Him for help, and so often we just flat out don’t ask. We just do things ourselves and in the strength of ourselves.

 Psalm 116:2—Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.

God’s ear is literally turned to us. He already knows our struggles. We can’t hide them from Him, even though we think we can! He wants us to communicate and ask Him for help.

Last, think biblically. The only way we can think biblically is if we literally immerse our minds in the proper things. Think about a dunk tank. When someone throws that softball and hits the target, the poor volunteer on the seat is immersed, oftentimes, in cold water! They are drenched! That’s what we have to do to our minds…immerse them in God’s Word.

Hebrews 4:12—For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

We have to surround ourselves with resources to help us make correct decisions and think properly about things. It’s easy for my thoughts to go down the wrong path when I don’t consume myself with God’s Word and many of the resources He has given to me. Life is a battle, and we have to have the correct gear. We have to read the Bible, listen to the Bible, go to church regularly to hear God’s Word taught and preached, read biblical books, listen to podcasts, listen to sermons, listen to uplifting music. God has given us so many resources to help us think correctly. When I ignore these resources and don’t take advantage of them, I begin thinking incorrectly and don’t pray as much. Then it’s hard to love the Lord the way He has commanded me to do. Then I get caught up in those failures and mistakes. It’s a vicious cycle. So ultimately, studying God’s Word and praying for help are the simple, but complex answers to everything.

Christ lived and went through the same burdens and pressures as us and never once sinned. He is there to support us and lift us up in our struggles when our hopes and dreams collapse.

For more reading... Comparison, Contentment, and Compassion: What to Do When Enough Is Not Enough

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Fall Gardening: 2017 Edition

Fall Gardening: 2017 Edition