Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2003. Empty Promises is Pete’s much anticipated second book. Pete earned his Bachelors degree in Communications from Western Kentucky University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He enjoys spending time with Brandi and their 3 boys, hunting, gardening and football.
I’ve often thought it was quite ironic that I have actually trusted God for my salvation and my eternity, yet I struggle so much to trust him with the small details of my life. So when I read about someone like Abraham, who trusted God radically with what mattered most to him, I have to ask how. How did he do it? Why did he do it?
I believe Abraham’s faith was built on some words God gave him in the original promise. In the midst of a life filled with uncertainty and with a call on his life that was going to bring more uncertainty, God gave Abraham two words to live by:
I will. I…will.
In fact, six times in God’s original conversation with Abraham (Gen. 12), God said, in some way or another, “I will.”
I realize you may be facing heavy discouragement or deep heartache because you hold tightly in your hands a very detailed picture of the way you hoped your life would turn out. When you compare that picture with reality, the differences are obvious.
But I firmly believe that if you are willing to trust the God who says, “I will,” nothing that is of eternal value in this life is at risk. You ultimately have nothing to fear. Fear enters our minds and begins to take over when we cling too tightly to those pictures of what we think our futures should look like, elevating them to idolatry status and diminishing the Artist of those very pictures.
It’s those unexpected shattered-dream moments that provide us with twists and turns in life where we meet God. Rarely do we surrender when we feel strong and in control. But when a dream is shattered, when life takes an unexpected turn and veers out of control, that’s when we fall to our knees. That’s when a new dream can grow.
There’s a lot about what happens to us in life that we cannot control. What we can control, however, is our willingness to seek God in the midst of all the craziness. Surrendering doesn’t mean we spend less energy on pursuing our dreams, but it does mean we spend less nervous energy. It means we see our dreams for what they are—possibilities and promises and goals, not sources of our peace and security. It means our confidence is no longer in our ability to achieve each one of our dreams, but in the strength and power of the God we claim to follow.
How do you get there? All it takes is a moment where, like Abraham, you relinquish your grip on your picture of your future and say, “Jesus, I want to trust you with that. Even if it means risking all the stuff I think is valuable, all the good things I’m waiting for, I’m still going to trust you.”
And maybe even in this moment, God is showing you something in your life that you know you need to let go of—or at least hold with open hands. It may be something good. It may even be something from him. But it’s something you’ve been trusting to give you what only God can provide.
Often, we’re unaware that we even have an idol until our dreams get threatened. This is a fundamental truth about idolatry: prosperity tends to mask our idols; crisis tends to reveal them.
As long as things are going well in my life, as long as my picture of the way I want life to turn out matches up with the picture of my reality, I don’t think I have an idol problem. But when there is a crisis, then all of a sudden I realize, “Man, I’ve been banking on this dream in a way that no dream should be banked on.”
Our dreams, no matter how great or noble they may be, always make lousy gods.
Are there any dreams you need to let go of or at least hold with an open hand?
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