Recently, a man visiting our church from out of town asked me, "Tell me, was it always your dream to preach in Logan, Ohio?"
He said it tongue-in-cheek, but since I didn't know this man, I played it straight. "I don't know if it was my dream," I told him, "but it's my call to preach in Logan, Ohio."
Having dreams for our lives can be good, as long as in our dreaming we accept that God's dreams may be different from our own.
Life has a way of making pretzels out of the straight lines to our dreams that our imaginations draw. In life, you never can tell what's going to happen, good or bad.
The unknowns are only multiplied in the lives of those who seek to follow Jesus Christ.
That's because if we want Christ to be in our life, we have to leave it up to God to draw the lines to His dreams for our lives. Since God wants us to love others and to have the servant mind of Christ, His lines for our lives are apt to go all "squiggly" with stops we never imagined, even diversions that may, to us or others, seem like setbacks or comedowns.
But when the call of God sets us down unanticipated pathways, it's good to remember James' words in the New Testament: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.' Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring...Instead, we ought to say, 'If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that."" (James 4:13-15
In Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, a fictional tale He told to convey the idea that our neighbor is anyone whose life situation is known to us, two holy men had their own ideas about what they needed to do as they walked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Those ideas didn't include a detour to help a man who appeared to be suffering, but who could have been a diversionary trap set by some of the thieves often on this road.
A Samaritan man, on the other hand, was willing to follow God's line, however frightening it may have been or whatever it might have done to his "schedule."
Followers of Jesus know that their lives do not belong to them. My life doesn't belong to me. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:20, "You were bought with a price." Jesus has already saved those who turn from sin and turn to Him as their only God and Lord. On the cross, He paid the price to buy us out of slavery to sin and death. The lines of our lives move toward the day we see Him face to face, on a pathway of His choosing. "We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves," Paul writes elsewhere. "If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." (Romans 14:7-8)
In the meantime, if you follow Christ, don't be surprised where God takes you when you dare to pray, as Jesus taught you to pray, "Your will be done." Life with Christ is full of surprises!
[This was inspired by today's installment of Our Daily Bread by Joe Stowell.]