Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tone Deaf Dreamer

I’m an American Idol auditions addict. While I do enjoy the actual competition, seeing a bit of what the judges go through to find finalists is entertaining too – which is why they air it. I like hearing stories, picking favorites, predicting stardom (I don’t have any witnesses, but I called Phillip Phillips’ win from his first audition. True story.)
But it’s not just the talented ones who are entertaining. Perhaps more so are those who don’t have a singing/performing/talented bone in their bodies. Though you have to admire their courage while at the same time roll your eyes at their bravado, really it’s just fun to laugh, right? Along with the judges who have probably seen it all.
Still, it’s just a bit heart-wrenching when the judges break the news – this competition just isn’t for you. Singing isn’t your thing.
Why does it strum the heart-strings, why do we feel bad when it is an obvious fact?
Well, because, in most cases, singing professionally is their dream. And we, as American Dreamers, clutch our hearts and lament dashed dreams. After all, when you wish (be it on a star or not) dreams do come true, isn’t that so?
Lucky for American Idol viewers, the judges have no qualms dashing the dreams, informing the tone-deaf contestant – it’s not your calling, dawg.
King David from the Bible had a dream dashed. I am referring to his zealous desire to build God a temple in Jerusalem, a permanent dwelling for God’s presence that up until that time had accompanied the Israelites wherever they went inside the Ark of the Covenant, a portable, holy encasement carrying God’s glory. And whenever the Israelites stayed in one spot for a time, the Tabernacle was erected as a tent.
David had a dream to build a permanent temple, a radiant palace for God, one that he felt God deserved. Doesn’t sound like anything wrong with that, right? In theory, there isn’t. And David’s motivations may even have been the purest ever in history.
But, it was not God’s calling for him. God had this task reserved for someone else, David’s son, Solomon who would become king after David. And God, as He always does whether He shares them with us or not, had His reasons.
1 Chronicles 28:2-3 says, “David rose to his feet and said: ‘My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a temple where the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it, but God said to me, ‘You must not build a temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’”
In 1 Chronicles 17, when this exchange between God and David actually took place, God gave David quite a list of other honors and promises from His hand, but fulfilling the dream of building the temple was not one of them.
David could have reacted poorly – shook his fist at God (he’d done that before and would do it again), determined to fulfill his dream no matter what after all he was doing it for God’s glory so God will just have to live with it!
But he didn’t. He surrendered to God’s will in this circumstance, even having the character to praise God for His instruction as well as the promises that had been relayed.
Which way do we react when God dashes our dreams?
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Seems pretty plain, right? Give kudos to God, He’ll fulfill your every wish.
Through the rosy tint of American-Dream colored glasses, we interpret this verse to mean that if we keep our nose clean, more or less obey God’s commands, go to church, maybe even serve on some sort of missions-oriented team, then He will have no reason not to fulfill our dreams…
A grand house…
A baby…
A worldwide platform for preaching the Good News…
The perfect job…
A spouse…
The list is endless, isn’t it?
So, what happens when the wish list is not fulfilled? If you’ve lived long enough, you know, don’t you? Something about the way we interpret that verse isn’t working.
Here’s what I think. There is a difference between your dreams and His calling on your life. True, they aren’t always at odds, but many many many times they are.
One reason for that, I believe, is that we do a pretty good job at identifying the second part of that verse – we are certain of our desires. We fall short knowing what ‘delight yourself in the Lord’ means.
If God called David ‘a man after His own heart’ then I have to conclude that no one in history delighted himself more in the Lord than David did. Yet, David was not permitted to fulfill his dream of building the temple. Why? Because it was not David’s calling to do so. God had many other things for David to do, but this particular dream was not one of them.
Delighting yourself in the Lord, then, has more to do with David’s reaction to God’s instructions. Instead of tenaciously holding on to his own ideas and desires, David surrendered to God’s, thanking Him for His intervention. When you have the heart to do that, you’ve discovered the secret to delighting yourself in the Lord, because only then do His desires become yours.
So, if it is your dream to become the next American Idol, but judges inform you that you are tone deaf, start looking elsewhere for your calling. Funny thing is, in the long run, you’ll be more than glad you did.
Because when it is your calling, anything is indeed possible.
Happy Wednesday, Dry Ground friends! Love y’all!