I remember the night I failed my first college test. It was in a Microeconomics class. I was so discouraged because I was sure that I wanted to major in Business. It had been my dream to have a business someday, and I knew I had to be a Business major in order to help me achieve that goal.
This class was a clear sign, however, that it wasn’t meant to be. I stubbornly proceeded on the Business track the following semester; I sat through my Calculus class for one day, and then I never went back. Being a business major wasn’t my calling, clearly.
A couple days later, I found myself really second guessing what in the world I was doing in college, and if I would truly find my calling there. I remember frantic phone calls with my parents discussing with them what in the world I was going to do, as if I were running out of time. I felt so lost. So helpless. So unsure.
What is a calling anyways? Is it our dreams? Is it our ambitions? I didn’t exactly know. All that I did know was what it wasn’t. Or, maybe I didn’t know anything at all. Maybe I was afraid of what my calling could be if I gave up the reins of control for that.
Soon after I closed the Business major chapter, I received a card in the mail from my mom. It read, “God Takes Care of Our Dreams.” I was moved to tears, not because of how perfectly timed it was, but because I knew it was true. The Lord does take care of my dreams, and he always has.
I needed that card then, and just as much as I needed it that day, I still need it now. I still need to be reminded that I’m not here by happenstance — that I was created for a grander purpose than to wake up every day and wonder what I am doing with my life.
I’m feeling more grateful now than ever before that God takes care of my dreams. If he hadn’t of stopped me in my tracks freshman year, I wouldn’t be writing, and The Lord knew then that for me to muster up the courage to wrestle my story onto paper someday, I would need to first realize my heart for the written word.
This gratefulness hasn’t come without a cost, however. I remember spending days, weeks, and sometimes (it felt like) months trying too hard to listen to the rest of the world tell me what I needed to do with my life, when all the while the answer was clearly being written before my eyes. But, I kept running from it. I feared what the Lord might ask me to do. I was afraid that he would use my deepest passions to scribble out my darkest moments. I am not brave enough, I argued with him.
But, the Lord took care of my dreams, and even when I detested the very idea, he did not give up on what he knew my heart desired, needed, and wanted with every ounce of my being, even when it didn’t seem like anything I wanted at all.
The Lord used my imperfections, uncertainty, and doubt in myself to cultivate his purpose for me. I believe that my love of writing was fostered through my years of pain, and then through my months of wrestling with the Lord’s purpose for that pain. I had to stop running from that truth. I knew that.
I think that the Lord uses all kinds of dreams, whether they are our dreams and ambitions, or our dreams and visions as we sleep, to create purpose and calling in our life. God revealed things to Joseph many times through dreams. In Genesis, dreams are often seen as divine interventions from God. I think that this is something to consider when talking about dreams and ambitions as well. Joseph was given an incredible gift.
Joseph dreamed that he would rise to power, and because of this dream, his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt because they could not accept that he would reign over them. However, through Joseph’s sufferings, God uses his afflictions to bear fruit (Gen 41:52). Not only did God use Joseph’s hardships to do this, but he used his imperfections to achieve his purposes in Joseph’s life. This is true testimony to sufferings.
The Lord revealed Joseph’s purpose through dreams, and although Joseph encountered suffering through following those dreams, the Lord took care of him. I feel a lot like Joseph. I never realized how similar I am to him. How often do we see our dreams as divine interventions from God? How often do we assess our dreams and ambitions as dreams and ambitions that will further the kingdom rather than feed our own desires? There is no denying our selfishness, but I think there is something to be said for the way that the Lord uses our dreams to further His kingdom, just as he revealed himself to Joseph through dreams.
We must stop running, though. We must believe in his purpose for our lives. We must trust that our dreams are not always a part of his plan, but that he has our deepest desires and needs of our hearts right in his very hands, even if we can’t see that.
When I began college, I was after my own heart, chasing what I thought would fulfill me; I was sure that I knew best. I was sure that Business was for me. I knew I would excel there, but I didn’t, and I thought college was over because of that.
I couldn’t see past my own selfishness. But, the Lord is full of grace, and even when I doubted the ability for any other calling besides Business to somehow be used to fulfill his purpose for my life, he forgave me. Then, he asked me to trust him, and so I stopped running away from the very source of sense that I had long been searching for.
I stopped running from the truth: God takes care of our dreams. When we take our eyes off what we want and ask the Lord to reveal to us what purpose our dreams might have in the Kingdom, then we may find our calling.
If we dare to believe that God really is taking care of our dreams, even if we aren’t sure how yet, and even if they do not seem like our dreams at all, then perhaps that one failed test, that one frantic phone call, or even that one sleepless night of “what am I doing with my life?” will seem less significant to the selfish ambitions of our own hearts, and more intricately deliberate to the heart of the Kingdom.
Brittany Jeanine Cottle is a writer, copy editor and blogger. She is also a middle school Language Arts teacher with a love for people and the written word. She is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor of the Arts in English. She believes in the value of faith stories and someday aspires to be a Christian novelist to share her own.