Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Her words pour out through a comment on my blog. She shares how she tried to pursue a God-sized dream only to discover that she, not Jesus, was truly at the helm of her life. In brokenness and difficulty, she discovered the dreams disclaimer and offered it to all of us: God-sized dreams will ultimately mean dying to yourself.
When we set out on the road to our dreams, we may picture many things ahead. But a cross is usually not one of them. And yet it is always part of the journey. Because our God-sized dreams aren’t really about us at all. They’re about the kingdom, God’s purposes in our generation, his refining work in our lives.
Here’s the great news: after we die to ourselves, we are resurrected. For the first time ever, we can be truly alive. It’s a paradox. God calls us to lay down everything and yet he offers us everything in return. (<====Click To Tweet)
How do you know if you’ve died to yourself when it comes to your dream? Ask yourself, “If God asked me to lay this down and never see it come true, would I be willing to do that?” What this question gets to is this: Is obedience to God, no matter what the cost, more important to me than getting what I think I want?
It’s not wrong to passionately desire to see our dreams come true. We need that fuel to move us forward. We ache and rejoice and chase hard after our dreams. And yet we also have to be willing to lay them down at any time if God says to do so.
Abraham wrestled with this when God asked him to lay his son Isaac on an altar. Isaac was a God-sized dream come true. And in ancient culture where one’s son carried on the family legacy, in many ways letting go of Isaac meant Abraham had to die to himself and all his hopes too. At the last minute, God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac (a foreshadowing of what Christ would do for us). Yet Abraham had to walk through that “lay down my Isaac” moment with God.
I believe we will all do the same. In my journey of God-sized dreams, there have been specific times I know God has asked me to lay what I want most on the altar and be willing to walk away from it forever. I had to die to myself. I, too, saw him provide a “ram” in those moments—although not in the way I expected.
Other God-sized dreams have not come true, and I’ve had to realize those were from my flesh rather than God’s heart. They needed to die so God’s best for my life could truly thrive.
We serve a God of life and power. He has defeated death, and that is why he boldly asks us to die to ourselves. He knows that is not the end of the story. With him, it’s only the beginning of the life we really long for and the desires of our heart coming true. In his upside-down kingdom, we die to live. And we let go of our dreams in order to really take hold of them.
Are you ready to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow the One who will lead you into more than you can even imagine?
p.s. Would you like more encouragement for your God-sized Dreams? Holley’s books You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dream can help!