It’s kind of an odd thing to talk about, but I have often found myself daydreaming about my spiritual status years from now. I imagine myself being patient with everyone; reserved in words, speaking only when needed; and constantly full of joy. Cheesy? Yeah, but it’s how I tend to imagine myself when I’m 35 or 40. My future self has so much peace within his heart and soul that no matter what, he feels hardly any pain. He sheds very few tears and even when a loved one might pass, he’d still find something cheerful to think about.
It’s nice to think about – kind of like thinking about what heaven’s like – but it’s really a waste of time. Why? For one thing, too much daydreaming leads one to believe in an unrealistic reality. No, I don’t mean to imply that desiring God’s peace is a bad thing; in fact, it’s one of the most important things to desire. But there’s a difference between a daydream and a desire. A daydream envisions how a specific desire will come into fruition; but having the desire alone leaves the “how” process up to God to write. At the end of the day, though I have no control in the scenario, I would much rather have God write it than me.
But my sinful insistence upon my own will is strong and leads me astray more often than it should. Even in my daydreams. In my imaginary world, I have overcome all my former demons to embrace the perfect life that God intended for me all along. I love my imaginary wife, my imaginary kids, and work hard at my imaginary job – all of which I attained by writing my own story. God plays a major role in my imaginary world, but more as a mental coach who guides me in controlling my emotions and attaining the power of complete focus. Sadly, the more I daydream about where I’ll be 15 years from now, the less of a role God plays in my story. What I tend to forget is that without God, I would have no story at all.
Daydreaming of my spiritual future (or even my practical future) has spiritual consequences. For one thing, it trains my heart and mind to leave less and less room for growing pains. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s like continuing to buy size 8 shoes when your feet are trying to grow into 9s or even 10s; if you don’t adjust, reality will hurt. When we limit our hearts, minds, and souls for a size 8 spiritually (or 9, 10, 11, whatever), we put ourselves in a position that only encourages habits and stubbornness. We avoid change, stop asking needed questions, and reside in our comfort zones as often as possible because we’re trying to mold our lives to the daydream we’ve envisioned. All the while, God’s got a bigger dream for us and He’s just waiting to write it out.
I discovered something about myself while watching Kill Bill Vol. 2 for the 3rd or 4th time of my life: I often watch a movie I’ve already seen before. Halfway through the movie, I turned it off and started reading. What’s wrong with watching a movie you’ve already seen before? Well, unless you really love it or are trying to understand it, you know the ending, which is unrealistic. There isn’t a single person among us who knows exactly how their story will end. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” You could have a fairly good idea about what might happen, but until it actually happens, you don’t know with absolute certainty. Knowing your life story is even more impossible.
It simply gets you into the habit of, well, getting into a habit. Not all habits are bad, but if you’re not somehow growing with God through whatever habit you have, then there probably isn’t anything good about it; it’s just a big comfort zone that avoids the uncertainties of life. Of course, we love certainties; that’s why various forms of systematic theology exist because we want things explained and simple. Many things are – no doubt. But not everything, especially the stories God wants to write with us. What good is uncertainty, then? Well, as Danny (my pastor) referred to in yesterday’s message, it compels us to trust more fully in God. Uncertainty conditions the heart, mind, and soul to rely on God no matter how much water the storm has blown onto our boat.
Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” God wants us to seek, to explore, to create, to charge ahead when the world wants comfort. “Playing it safe is dangerous,” a man named Asif said at an athlete’s chapel a couple weeks ago. He highlighted Matthew 14:22-33 where Jesus comes to the disciples by walking on water. Peter was the only one who got off the boat and Asif imagined that the other disciples must have thought he was pretty stupid for doing so, especially after he started to sink. And yet, Peter was the only one soaked with the knowledge that he had acted upon his faith, even though he was uncertain of what would happen.
A verse that Danny highlighted in yesterday’s message caught my attention. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Now I know Jesus is teaching about worries and cares of this life, but I also think He’s telling us something quite simple: Focus on the day before you. A strong focus like the one Jesus teaches us to have does two things; keeps us from worrying and keeps us in reality.
We’re only able to become the people God wants us to be when our eyes are focused on Jesus as we step off the boat.