When I was growing up I was given this odd little stuffed animal. It was a pastel blue bunny with a dog’s face holding a pink flower. It had this little tuft of hair on the top, kind of like a troll. It was hideous. However, it was my stuffed animal and for some reason I really connect with “Cuddles.” Cuddles was fragile, after all it was holding onto flower and as such I never washed Cuddles. You can only imagine the sess pool of germs floating around a toy that had been drooled on, stepped on, put in boxes, taken outside, shoved under the bed and every other imaginable thing a young boy can do to their toys.
As I got older, I kept Cuddles with me. Cuddles had staying power over huge fluffy bears and cool movie inspired animals. I was offered toys that could have easily taken Cuddles place but I clenched onto dingy old Cuddles harder each time. That nasty greyish blue dog-bunny with a brown flower and bald patches was my Cuddles. At this point, you could easily see the set up for the next Stephen King book about a killer toy.
This toy reminds me of the season I’m in right now. Where I’m yet again coming to the realization of what it truly means to follow God. Each of these seasons, I’ve discovered a new level of what it means to let the old man die. A deeper understanding of the what I have to give up to follow Him. In past seasons, I can look back confidently and say it’s well worth it. I’m reminded of the quote from Good To Great, by Jim Collins.
“Good is the enemy of great.”
However, each season, it’s like He’s figuratively asking me to give up part of my childhood. When he asked me to tear down my walls of sarcasm it was like giving up my blankie. That brown panda blanket so warn that you could hardly see the design anymore. Sarcasm was my security blanket. However, when I surrendered it to Him and began to let people in, I found new levels of significance in my marriage and with my kids.
As my kids turn into teenagers I see them slowly putting things away that they cared for deeply as children. However, there are still some things that hangs on. I feel like that’s how we are when we come to God. We accept salvation and put away the toys we “think about” but don’t really play with anymore. However, we’re still clutching our Cuddles dog and holding on for dear life. I guess it’s just spiritual maturity, like the writer of Hebrews says,
Each season has been difficult, yet freeing. Each season I felt like my world was ending but it was really opening up. Each season I’d lose a defense mechanism, or some pride or some other self destructive behavior. I’d get to a point where I’d say, “Now, I’m really submitted to Christ.” … At least until the next season came and I’d hear Him say, “I want that too.”
Each season God would say, give me that dingy old thing and let me replace it with something 100 times better.
However, now He’s asking for Cuddles. To put it plainly, I feel like God is telling me to let go of my hopes and dreams. These are dreams that I’ve had since a kid. Dreams of running my own business, a business that can change the world. It’s crushing to think about. It’s a heart wrenching scene, like the one that would have played out if my Mom had taken Cuddles away from me. So I stand here clenching my horror movie inspiration, my dreams for a business that can truly change the world. Dream of online inventions, hopes of travel abroad and seeing millions saved. I could easily spend the next year writing about all my plans.
These plans aren’t just dreams in the “dreamer” sense, no these are plans I’m executing on. For example, I finished a 70,000 word manuscript for a book I was confident that God gave me and yet that is one of the dreams I feel like He’s asking me to sacrifice, like my proverbial Isaac.
However, I am choosing to lay down my Cuddles at His feet. Every dream, every profitable business, every charitable endeavor… all of it. I trust that my God is working for my good, I’ve seen it all before. I’m writing to you because as difficult as this season is, I know what’s happening. I’m about to step into something greater, but before I do I want to share with you what I’ve learned.
Sometimes, your dreams are your idols.
In my example above, I’m clinging to a dingy old stuffed animal. With my hands clenched around that thing I can’t receive anything. My hopes and dreams had become an idol. As a single-parent raised kid it’s easy for me to say, “No one else is doing it, so I will, and I don’t need help.” I was clinging to hopes and dreams because they gave me security, they kept me independent. If I’m honest, chasing the dreams gave me an identity and a sense of value. God is the one who bestows value. He paid the ultimate price for me. It’s like we’re created for this longing that only He can fill, Pascal said it first…
When I get in trouble it’s when I try to take the easy way out. I busyness for impact. I place let my idol bring me joy instead my creator. It’s a poor imitation. I know it, He knows it, and deep down you know it too.
God doesn’t take something away from you without giving you something better. It’s just likely not what you’d expect or say you’d want at that time. However, you’ll be thankful that He gave it to you after you get there.
So I’m choosing to burn my idols, tear down my high places and follow God on this. It’s not easy, there are a lot of “what ifs.” I may even be wrong. I’d rather make a mistake honoring God then chase these dreams and miss His mission for my life. I haven’t lost hope that if those dreams and those goals align with His will, that He’ll bring them back to life. Just like Isaac and Abraham.
Oh and if you’re wandering what the image at the top is about, it’s from the movie Dinosaur. In the movie, one of the characters introduces him as “Dream Crusher” and says, “He keeps me from having unrealistic goals.” When I first started this journey I remember joking in prayer with God about this character.
What about you? Do you have something God is asking you to lay at his feet?