Originally published Tuesday, 21 January 2014.
It’s time for a new beginning. Don’t you think? We all need a new beginning from time to time, and what better time than the present.
Now, I know you’ve probably heard quite a few messages on the topic of “New Year’s Resolutions” already, so rest assured, this is not another one. “Resolution” messages, while valuable, are often the same. Evaluate your previous year. See what worked. See what didn’t. Set goals. Plan. Plan. Plan…. But honestly, while these exercises do have some merit, I believe most people, while making these plans, unintentionally fail to factor God into their equation.
I just finished reading Me, Myself, and Bob over Christmas. It’s written by Phil Vischer, the founder of Veggie Tales, and let me tell you, it’s a good read. In his book, Phil tells the story of the rise and fall of Veggie Tales, a popular Christian children’s video series. In the book, Phil tells about his dream to create a Christian alternative to the many value-less shows our children watch. Phil wanted to be the “Christian” Walt Disney and wanted to bring glory to God through his passion of storytelling and technology. Because of his noble motives, Phil thought God was in on his dream and chose to resolutely pursued his dream. And for quite some time, it appeared as if his dream were coming true. But at the height of Phil’s success, when Veggie Tales videos and products were flying off the shelves, God allowed his dream to die, and Phil found himself bankrupt, in all senses of the word, as he watched his beloved creation auctioned off to the highest bidder.
And Phil was left with one question: Why would God allow his dream to die?
Wasn’t his dream a worthy dream?
Wasn’t he bringing glory to God and bringing families to Christ?
Why would God allow a dream like this to die?
If you read the book, you’ll see that Phil, though a good Christian man he was, had not yet surrendered himself completely to God. He began his pursuit of his dream as a young 20-something, with big hopes and faith in a God he had yet to fully experience. You see, his dream, was just that––his dream. In this scenario, God was invited to bless Phil’s dream, and God did. God was invited on the journey. But Phil was running the show. Phil made plan after plan after plan without God. Sure, he prayed, but Phil admits he had not yet learned what it means to “wait on God.” It was as if he were telling God, “This is where I would like to go. This is my dream, wanna come?” And then off to the races he went.
Things just got turned up-side-down.
And Phil paid the price.
But the question I’d like to pose here is: Haven’t we all made that same mistake to one degree or another? We are all prone to the same folly Phil fell into. How many times have I sensed God’s leading, or even His direct call, and I receive it more like marching orders to lead than an invitation to walk with God toward the direction of the call? How many times have I acted on presumption and have not properly taken the time to wait on the Lord?
And then we wonder why we ultimately feel depleted in the end.
Scripture tells us those who wait on the Lord “shall inherit the [promised] land” (Psalm 37:9), are blessed (Isaiah 30:18), “shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 49:23), and “shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”
And so, we must wait. We must seek.
We must learn to walk with God.
It’s true. Phil’s dream died. But when it did, Phil didn’t become angry and calloused, placing blame for his demise upon God like so many do. But instead, he humbled himself and allowed God to speak to his broken heart. He received God’s correction with humility, and his faith grew as a consequence. In Phil’s life, failure resulted in the greatest blessing one can receive, for it wasn’t until Phil’s dream died that he began to truly “walk with God,” as he says.
So, perhaps when dreams die, it’s by God’s saving grace.
Because after all, isn’t this what it’s all about? To walk with God? Isn’t that the summation of a life well lived––what it’s characterized by?
Walking with God.
Not ahead of him, but with Him.
How our lives would change if we could only learn to walk in step with our God!
Walking with God connotes closeness. God tells us to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). What an amazing promise this is! God––the One who spoke all into existence, who hung the stars in the sky––promises His beloved (that’s you!) that He will draw near to you the moment you draw near to Him.
But this takes yielding.
Yielding yourself, your life, your hopes, your dreams, your plans, and your will to God. Placing yourself in His loving care, in trust that He will take care of you. Lamentations 3:21-24 says:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Great is God’s faithfulness. Steadfast love and mercy never cease. In this, we hope––in this God. And before this God, we lay it all down. All our plans yield to His because no plan could be greater than the plan of God. God knows the plans He has for you––”plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
And our role?
Make plans, but hold them loosely, for “it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand“ (Proverbs 19:21).
Be sure to seek godly counsel when making plans to ensure you are moving in the right direction (Proverbs 16:3).
But above all, be sure to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
It’s a good time for a new beginning.
It’s time to pray, to seek, to wait, and to yield ourselves right into the will of God.
Let us garner up faith and resolutely decide to walk with God. As Adam did, in the cool of the day. As all the heroes of the faith did at one time or another. And as we choose to do now and forevermore.
We will WALK WITH GOD.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;” says the Lord, “now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19