I’m nearly done reading Jared Wilson’s latest, The Story of Everything, which as was entirely expected, has been rocking my socks. One of the particularly provocative points made in the book (at least so far) is his calling out of the “chase your dreams” style of encouragement among Christian leaders—particularly to those inclined toward the arts.
I was recently at a conference where this was a big theme in one of the messages. Though there were some helpful encouragements, the speaker frequently spoke as though our desires and God’s were the same. That the dream we have has been birthed in us by God. But this conflating of our dreams and God’s plan for our lives can be problematic. After all, what if God doesn’t want you to be a megastar? What if God’s plan is for you to live in relative obscurity? Wilson writes:
His plan for us may be personal failure. It’s possible that when another door closes, it’s not because he plans to open a window but because he plans to have the building fall down on you. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will Christ be enough? (122)
I’ll admit, this had me squirming a bit as I read it. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong influence, platforms, even platform building, per se. There’s nothing ungodly about success. And most of us, I suspect, either want or certainly wouldn’t be afraid of accepting some level of fame or renown or whatever, even if we wouldn’t actively seek it out. And we all want whatever that dream we have—maybe writing a great novel, directing a terrific film, or making a fantastic sandwich—to actually happen.
But the question Wilson asks—and it’s the right one, I think—is whether or not Christ is sufficient. Is he enough for you, even if no one reads your blog—or when your book blows up? Is he enough for you when you’re hosting webinars or trying to fulfill your dream of being a full time writer or musician or illustrator?
Ultimately he has to be. Ultimately, we have to come to a place where we realize that it doesn’t matter “how noticed, renowned, recognized, or successful we are personally.” Where we recognize that “our lives aren’t really about us anyway, that the story of creation is not about us at all” (122)
It’s easy to affirm this in theory. It’s harder to embrace it when we’re actually put to the test. I know that I’ve had moments where I’ve had to repent of being too excited about things that really don’t matter that much. I was sure Contend, for example, would blow up. It had some terrific endorsements, the writing experience was terrific, the content was solid. Yet no explosion was to be found. Instead, it took three years to become profitable, and I’ve now been able to purchase a latte with my royalties. (That, friends, is called livin’ the dream.) That book (which I love, and hope you’ll grab a copy if you haven’t) forced me to deal with that question. Is Christ enough?
The next two years, I saw my blog traffic drop (not majorly, but enough that I noticed it). I saw more posts land with a thud that take off into the stratosphere. And that’s forced me to keep asking this question.
Then there’s the challenge of trying to launch another book—including one that would have been very interesting. But the demands on my time and the lukewarm reception of publishers on the other has made me ask yet again.
And a lot of the time, I find myself having to come to grips with the fact that though I might say it with my lips, it’s not entirely true in my heart. My loyalties are split at time. My desires conflict.
But the funny thing is, Christ always wins—even if my dreams occasionally wind up discarded along the way.