Are you dreaming your life or living your dream? It’s hard to live your dream when you feel like you’re always dealing with drama or stress. What if you and I could develop an attitude or spirit of resiliency; that no matter what happens, we choose to wrestle with the challenges rather than succumb to living a life filled with worry and despair? What if we could approach our lives as a great adventure? And how do we even do that? The Apostle Paul has some great insight into this, so let’s look at three important things he has to say on this topic.
Feeling as if we are living our dreams begins with our attitude. Therefore, looking to the Apostle Paul as an example is key. When you look at Paul’s life, it’s clear that he was a man who had great success. Paul heard the call to share the message of Christ, he worked hard in the Middle East and also travelled to Greece and Europe to start churches. Though he didn’t realize it in his day, we know he helped to change the world. When you look at his life, however, you can see that he wasn’t focused on achieving success. He experienced incredible hardships; he was run out of town, whipped, shipwrecked and imprisoned. He was able to persevere in the midst of hardship; he wrote letters to the churches while he was in prison. Even so, Paul is able to say I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. He said I know how to be abased and I know how to abound, I know the secret of facing plenty and of hunger, of abundance and want. When Paul talks about his life it wasn’t one sided. He experienced both abundance and lack in all areas of his life. Paul was able to look at the contrast he experienced in life and view it not as an ordeal, but rather as a great adventure or living the dream. We can learn so much from Paul about how to bring the right attitude!
#2 THINK ON THESE THINGS
Second, you may remember from a recent sermon series last year, “Think on These Things” that Paul provided a list of things for us to focus on, saying, “Think on these things: whatever is true and honorable and just, whatever is pure and lovely and gracious, whatever is excellent, whatever is worthy of praise, think on these things.” I believe these are the very things that lead us closer to God. When you woke up this morning, from the time you opened your eyes to the time you began reading this blog, what have you been thinking about? What has your focus been? Has it been on that which is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and gracious, things that are excellent, things worthy of praise? “Think on these things”, Paul would say. I believe it is important for each of us to start every morning with a time of reading and prayer because it centers us back in God.
It is easy to become cranky, to become irritable, to find yourself angry because people don’t do what you want them to do, they don’t act like you want them to act, things don’t go the way you want them to go. It’s easy for life to become an ordeal. How can you live your dreams if everything’s an ordeal? Paul said to think on these things, the things that are true and the things that are honorable and the things that are just and the things that are pure and lovely and gracious and the things that are excellent and things worthy of praise, think on these things so that you can live an adventure each day and make a difference.
Third, Paul would say, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” This doesn’t mean, however, that everything will be good. Paul goes on to say, “I know how to abound, I know what success is like, and I know what it’s like to have plenty and I know what it’s like to have abundance and I know what it’s like to be abased, to fail, and I know what it is like to be hungry and to have want. I have discovered I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:10-13). The verse Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorites in the whole Bible. It doesn’t mean that everything is going to go the way I want because I am in Jesus Christ, it does mean, however, that whether I find myself experiencing good times or bad, abundance or lack, success or struggle; God is in these moments too. God is there to give you the strength and hope you didn’t even know you had; he provides peace that passes all understanding.
When we look for Christ in all of the contrasting moments and emotions of life and we remind ourselves, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” we can move from dreaming our lives to living our dreams!