Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dreams Die, Hope Lives

Obey and Submit

Day 25

Dreams Die, Hope Lives

What is to see God in everything, and to receive everything directly from His hands, with no intervention of second causes. And it is just to this that we must be brought, before we can know an abiding experience of entire abandonment and perfect trust. Our abandonment must be to God, not to man, and our trust must be in Him, not in any arm of flesh, or we shall fail at the first trial. 
--Hannah Whitall Smith[i]


e all have dreams of what the future will be, of things we’d like to do, places we’d like to go, and the way we’d like things to be. Likewise, we often have strong opinions about things we do not want to do and places we do not want to go.

If we aren’t careful, our ideas of happiness become shaped by when/then statements such as these: when I’m out of school, then I’ll be free; when I have kids, then I will feel fulfilled; when our kids leave home, then we’ll travel…and so on. When our ideas of happiness rest in a future when “things will be different” we miss living in the peace of the provision God gives in every present moment.

The Lord knows us best and we can trust Him to take our heart's desires into account. Thus, when our dreams for the future seem to be dying at an unprecedented rate, we can still say with confidence, "…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV). The Lord understands our tears as we release our “maybe someday” hopes into His hands, and when our tears dry, we will experience the peace of trust in Him. 

The Lord does have compassion for us as we lay our dreams on the altar, but with the disciplining love of a Father, He expects us to complete the transaction of release. This is because He knows that what He has in store for us is far superior to anything we could envision for ourselves. As Matthew Henry says, “The soul of man is in want, and seeks for satisfaction; but becomes weary of seeking that in the world, which is not to be had in it. Yet they shall have a constant supply, where one would least expect it. I will open rivers of grace, rivers of living water..."[ii]

God has revealed His power and love to us, and based on what He has shown us about Himself, He expects us to trust in Him. Trust brings with it a willingness to be disciplined under God’s hand so that times of grief or hard work that we would not have chosen for ourselves do not tempt us to resentment toward Him. Dreams seem more enticing than the difficulties of reality, and it is easy to lapse to complaints against the One who has allowed us the difficulties we face. It always comes down to this: are we willing to trust His vision over our own? Are we willing to submit to His authority? Are we willing to work when He says, “Work,” rest when He says, “Rest,” and to endure the strengthening program He places before us, even if we’d rather not? 

Let’s say it together, “Yes, Lord!” 

Pray: Father, I confess that You are all I want or need. I place my trust in You for my past, present, and future. I lay my good plans at Your feet. I entrust my grief over how I’d thought things might someday be to You, and I open my heart to the much greater blessings You offer. I say, “Yes, Lord,” to Your perfect plan for my life.  Amen. 


And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.  And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.
Deuteronomy 8:2-5  

[i] Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life, chapter 8, public domain
[ii] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Isaiah 41, public domain

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