Thursday, September 7, 2017

Don't Live Your Dreams, Live Your Life

This summer our family started watching the show “Americas Got Talent”.
The show is a talent show.
They have singers, acrobats, dancers, comedians, and magicians on it.
What the show is really about is dreams.
About six or seven times a show someone will talk about dreams.
About making their dreams come true, or following their dreams.
Or not giving up on their dreams.
It got me thinking about dreams.
Is it good to have dreams or not?
I have gone back and forth.
I am not sure where I have landed on this question.
As I read this Gospel for this week I thought it would be a good way to explore this question.

Jesus is going to be killed.
He will be killed by a conspiracy between religious leaders and the government.
They both have an interest in keeping the status qou.
They both want to keep trouble makers out.
This was not an uncommon thing in Jesus’ time.
Revolution was always in the air.
Religious reformers and zealots were everywhere.
People promising utopian visions of a more perfect world surrounded Jerusalem.
Jesus was not different in this way.
However, what made Jesus different is his solution.
The solution was not to take up arms, it was not to retreat into the country side and create a new community.
It was to confront the powers of the world head on.
Jesus answer was to go right into the middle of Jerusalem, and let those powers kill him.

Jesus had no dreams of a better world.
Jesus knew what the world was, and what it would do to him.
He had been offered the better world, the short cut to get there by Satan.
He could have ruled it, as others have.
He could have given it food and justice.
Jesus chose instead this way.
He chose the longer way, the harder way.
Get some disciples, who were unqualified, and teach them what it meant to live in the kingdom of God.
Show them what it looked like to love, have compassion, and be fully human.
Teach them to serve.
Not dreams but real life.

And this is the problem with dreams is that they distract us from real life.
They distract us from the life that we actually have in front of us.
The one we are confronted with.
The life that is hard and maybe a little uncomfortable.

I was thinking about the people of Houston.
How many dreams have been shattered?
How many people lost all the things that they worked so hard for all these years?
What will we say to them?
Don’t give up on the dream.
Or this is hard, sad, tragic, but let us rebuild.

I have a person I know that is having a hard time dealing with the reality of life.
They had dreams.
They had dreams of a different career, a different partner in life.
And it is distracting from what is actually taking place in this person’s life.
Dreams are things that are out there, and they stop of us seeing what is in front of us because we are always looking over life to what we want.

Consider Peter.
He just told Jesus that he was the Messiah.
He had dreams of what this meant.
And they are understandable.
He was there when Jesus calmed the storm, fed 5,000 people, cured the sick, cast out demons.
He saw the power that Jesus had.
He had dreams of Jesus’ being in power and Peter sitting at his right hand.
Peter rising high up in the company.
Peter would no longer be just a fisherman, but someone with status of importance.
What Jesus says to Peter this morning is that those dreams have distracted him from doing the hard work right in front of him.
“Pick up your cross, and follow me.”
Dreams are dangerous things.

I can tell you from personal experience that my life got better the day I stopped dreaming and lived the life that God was calling me to.
The day I started to pay attention to what was in front of me.
The day I started to do what needed to be done.
The day I started to give thanks to God for the life I had rather than the one I thought I wanted.
My witness to you is that life is much better this way.
Give your life to God, accept what it is, pay attention to the things in front of you, pick up your cross, lose your life and you will find it.

Maybe that is where all of us find ourselves on a daily basis.
We find ourselves at the cross roads of life.
Walking up we look in the mirror and wonder is this it?
What have I accomplished in my life?
What will I accomplish today?
Is it enough?

I read this week a story about Aaron Rodgers.
He is the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.
Back in 2011 he won the Super Bowl.
He sat on the bus thinking about all the plays he had made to be named the MVP.
All of his dreams had come true.
He was the starting quarterback on a Super Bowl winning team.
He thought, “Is this it?”
“There must be more to life than this?”

It made me wonder that even if our dreams come true then what?
Life still goes on.
We still have to wake up the next day and do something.
And this is what I have found that the work that Jesus calls us to is never done.
There is always some new way we can serve.
There is some new morsel of grace yet to be revealed to us.
Something surprising and unexpected that turns up when we are living a faithful life.
Peter and the others would experience this on Easter morning.
So maybe having dreams is not the answer.

But I can’t erase the people on “America’s Got Talent”.
Their stories are inspiring.
Their perseverance and work is commendable.
They make me cry and cheer for them.
So I get it.
I see why we say, “Dreams come true”, “Follow your dreams”, and what not.
I see why this is a popular notion in our culture.

I don’t know if I have some nice neat way to tie all this together this morning.
Except to say that what Jesus calls us to is actually bigger than our dreams.
It is the reality that comes from living a thankful life, a good life, a faithful life, a godly life, a life filled with the cross.
And that as nice as it is to be singing on America’s God Talent.
It is even better to love your family, your work, your friends, your community, the stranger, and the vulnerable.
That is a better life.
To be satisfied with the life that God gave you, the tasks you have been given this day are enough.

Because what we find is the unexpected.
The surprise of hard work that helps others, feeds our families, the surprise of death that gets turned into life.
Don’t live your dreams, live your life.
Not the life you wish you had, but the one God gave you right now.
That is a life worth finding.

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