It’s crazy the things we believe about God. We grow up on Veggie Tales, VBS, and youth group, and yet the lies sneak in just the same, clinging to our Capri Suns and “Silly Songs with Larry.”
I used to think God was a taker. He knew my dreams because he was God. He saw all the ways I tried to get the things I wanted and then he took them away. Why? Because he’s God.
When I was 17, my dream was to go to college, and not just any college, the best college that would have me. I spent my last two years of high school obsessing over grades and SAT scores. I applied to 7 colleges, wrote 15 essays, did 3 interviews. I made college an idol—I knew it, God knew it, my mom knew it—but that didn’t stop me from wanting it. When I didn’t go to college, I thought God was punishing me. He knew how much this dream meant to me, and then he took it away.
Believing the Lie
I saw God as a vindictive authoritarian who enjoyed taking from me. Not that I ever put it into words. Actually, I don’t think I ever strung my feelings of anger and distrust into a conscious thought—but the most poisonous lies are the ones you don’t know are there.
Last summer, I was faced with a choice between two dreams—finish my B.S. or see the world. I chose the world. I went to Australia to study medicine and ended up learning about human trafficking instead. God tapped me on the shoulder and told me he knew what was best, and for the first time, I believed him.
There’s something about following God halfway across the world that shows you who he is. Not the airbrushed Sunday-morning version, but who God really is. And the truth is, God’s not a taker, he’s a giver.
The Dream Giver
They say the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Mostly, I believe that’s true, but I think they’re missing something important. I think at his core God’s a giver, but he can only give us what we’re willing to give up.
God made you with dreams—that’s why you’ve got them in the first place. All the things you’re good at, all the things you love, all the things you know you’d love if you got the chance to try them—God put those dreams there. And because God doesn’t like to mess around, he put them there for a reason.
God gives us dreams so we can bring glory to him, but because we’re human, we use our dreams to bring glory to ourselves. We use our dreams to make money or get famous or make people like us. It must break God’s heart, seeing us take the pure, raw desires that he gave us and turn them into something false—idols that steal our dreams from us. We hold onto those idols; we hold them tight throughout the years until one day we have a mid-life crisis and realize that our dream of being successful and having a nice car wasn’t as great as we thought it was. So, we quit our job and buy a new car, but are we satisfied?
I held onto my dream of college because I knew God as a taker. I knew that if I let him, he’d take away my visions of success and replace them with something less, so I held my dreams tighter and tighter until one day, I decided to let go.
Learning to Trust
It kind of started slowly. God spoke to me and I loosened my grip a bit. He provided for me and I let go a little more. He showed me his love and I unclenched my fists. The more I knew God for who he was, the more I saw him move in my life, the more I heard him speak his dreams over me, the more I trusted.
We’re programmed to distrust what we do not know. If you don’t know God as a giver, you’re going to have a hard time trusting him. You’ll try and fulfill your own dreams, and you’ll fail every time, but the minute you let go, you’ll see God for who he truly is.
God is a dream giver. He’s been giving us our fiercest dreams since the beginning. We’ve taken them into our own hands, but the minute we let go, he gives them back to us, wrapped a little differently perhaps, but still the same deep-down dream we’ve always known but couldn’t quite touch.
It’s funny, but I’m beginning to realize dreams can’t come true unless you know the truth, and the truth is God’s enough. I still want to go to college and learn Spanish and live in Europe and a whole bunch of other things, but I’m not worried about those dreams anymore. I’m not in charge of my own happiness. God knows it and God’s got it. All I have to do is trust.