Have you ever wanted to follow a dream so you asked God about it – and then waited? And waited. And waited. There was no angel Gabriel appearing with a message in the dead of night. God didn’t give you a prophetic word – even though you hit 7.5 prophetic meetings (you know you did). And then there was the fleece: you said something like, “Okay, God, if the sun rises tomorrow, I’ll know You’re saying ‘yes,’ and if it doesn’t, it’s a ‘no’. Got it.” And then the sun didn’t rise so you kept asking because that wasn’t what you wanted to hear.
Ever been there?
Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had three servants to whom he announced that he would be going away for an extended period of time. But before leaving, the master gave each of the servants talents ($) to invest, saying that when he came back, he would expect to see a return on his investment. Then he gave a different number of talents to each servant according to his abilities. But it’s not the number of talents that’s important; the way the servants invested them is the point.
The key thing in this parable is that the master distributed the talents – and then left. The servants weren’t able to call him on his cell or message him or email him to ask what they should do. The master gave them the freedom to do whatever they thought was best with their talents – as long as the results benefited his kingdom. So what did they do? The best they knew how to do.
Except for one of them.
When the master returned, he was pleased to find that two of the servants had invested their talents and produced a return. But the third had not; he’d simply hidden his talent and then handed it back. The master, not pleased, asked him why. The man’s response? “I was afraid.” Unfortunately for him, that was not an acceptable excuse to the master.
Want a message from God? He’d much rather have you try and fail than never to try at all.
As Pastor Andrew put it, “The light is green until it’s red.”
In other words, go.
The fact is that God wants us to move forward and if we’re headed in the wrong direction, He’ll throw up the road block or close a door (or something). Recently, I had an interesting experience to prove that very point.
Last week, I decided I wanted to take a reputable on-line writing course but it was a little pricey. S0 – should I or shouldn’t I? I checked in with the Lord (in case He had any thoughts on the matter) but really didn’t hear anything and registration was about to close. So I made an executive decision: believing the course to be a benefit, I registered and paid for it. By the next morning, however, I still hadn’t received any links to the course or even a receipt for payment, so I emailed the folks in charge and asked about it. Someone emailed back, saying that they had no record of my registration or payment.
Though they invited me to re-register, I took the hint from the Lord and decided that now was evidently not the time. I believe I probably will take the course at some point but, in the meantime, I keep moving. As Pastor Paul Wagner used to say, “God can’t steer a parked car.”
“But,” you argue, “what if I try and fail?” You probably will. Everybody does (it builds character). But then you get back up and try again.
Over the years, I’ve seen people move forward and follow their dreams – regardless of failure. My family once moved to another state after my father retired from the military because he’d had a job offer. However, it didn’t work out and we moved back to NY. No harm, no foul. I tried a business one time and discovered it really wasn’t what I thought it would be and while I lost some money in the process, it was an “acceptable loss.”
The “acceptable loss” principle is huge when making a big decision and can often make clear whether you should move forward with a dream or not.
An “acceptable loss” is simply an assessment of what, if anything, you can afford to lose if a situation doesn’t work out. For example, if you invest money in a dream, is it an amount you can afford to lose if it doesn’t happen? If not, then don’t do it. If you take a new job, are its requirements something you can deliver? If not, red light. I once turned down a job because I found out that it would require evenings and weekends (as well as days) and with a baby and a toddler at home, I decided that their well-being was not an acceptable risk.
What college should you go to? Any one you want – if you can afford it. Don’t risk going to a college where you’ll rack up 100K in debt for a major that won’t allow you to make enough to pay that debt. Not an acceptable risk.
Should you marry a particular person? Not without considering Biblical principles such as being equally yoked and seeking wise counsel. And if you consider marriage an “acceptable risk” (meaning divorce is an option), then that’s a red light. A really bright one.
Have you ever been so desperate to hear from God or to have Him move on your behalf that, having tried everything else, you finally just pitch a fit.
Have you ever been angry at God?
Maybe you feel you’ve been tried beyond your limits: a person in your life who – for days, months, years – has tested your patience and love beyond bearing? A job which – while you’re grateful to have one – you dread going to each and every day? Or you need a job, any job? Perhaps you’ve been waiting a long time for the desire of your heart – a husband or wife? A dream you believe you’ve been called to? A child?
Maybe you’ve been praying for the salvation of a loved one for half a lifetime – and they seem to be getting further away from the Lord, not closer. Perhaps you’re desperate to be healed or to see a loved one healed – and pain is all you know in the meantime. Maybe you’re enduring a heartbreaking marriage – and despite all of your pleading and prayers, the dream just isn’t happening.
Maybe you have financial problems: bills you can’t pay or college or retirement you can’t afford? Or just when you begin to get on your feet, something else breaks down, wears out, needs repairs or someone gets sick? What if your heart’s been broken just one too many times and you just can’t bear one more minute of pain?
What if, in the midst of any or all of those trials, heartaches, persecutions, and crisises, you’ve said every prayer you can think of or you’ve put on the game face and willed yourself to worship one more time or you’ve fasted till you’re skin and bones or you’ve declared every promise in the Bible? What if you’ve tithed every penny you’ve ever earned and forgiven till you’re blue in the face and haven’t missed church in seven years? What if you’ve read the Bible through three times in a year, pray two hours a day (on your knees), and clean toilets every week at church.
What if all of that – and you still just can’t seem to get God’s attention.
Have you ever been there? So worn out from waiting, crying, pleading, dealing, declaring, and waiting some more that you finally decide God needs a little drama?
Sometimes, in the midst of desperate circumstances over a long period of time, when everything we know to do has failed to move God’s hand – we take circumstances into our own hands.