What Do You Want to Do?

Exploring the question that gave me permission

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The Dreamer In Me Came Alive

Kristy and I just finished season 9 of Death in Paradise, a British TV series about an English police inspector working on a Caribbean island with a team of lovable characters who share work, life, highs, and low with stories that blend mystery, drama, and humor. Even if a bit quirky, it is a great show.

In the final episode, Inspector Parker is about to return home to England, where life is safe and predictable. And, to his admission, boring. Reflecting on his existence, Parker says, “I don’t want to turn 90 and look back with regret that I just made it through life, playing it safe.”

Then the line that prompted this post.

“What if I could live the life I want to live rather than the life I have to live—the life others expect me to live?”

The dreamer in me came alive. Yeah, what if?

Granted, because we live on this side of the garden, life—and all vocations—will be filled with a varying degree of thorns. Hardships and frustrations are par for the course in a fallen world. Pipi Longstocking makes for a fun movie but is not a feasible philosophy of life for the real world.

Also, it may be easier to dream for an American with options. I realize that there are many without options, stuck in miserable life contexts and jobs and relationships from which they cannot escape. Oh, they may dream about the life they want to live, but the possibility is alternate universes away—light years. I want to be sensitive to those who can’t even imagine the opportunity to choose a new or different life.


At What Point is Change a Choice?

Nevertheless, do we have to settle? Even for those where life seems unbearable and unchangeable? Is there something that could change? Do we have to settle for a stale marriage? What about the job that pays well but kills your soul and takes years off your life with stress on your heart? Again, some would be thrilled to have any job at all.

At what point is change a choice? Is joy a choice? How about peace and contentment?

Do we have to live captive to social media? When will you and I get treatment for the addiction, whatever the addiction is? Isn’t crossing that Rubicon type of decision a choice?

Sadly, I do not have the answer. I don’t think there is a blanket answer for everyone. Each of us needs to take these things up with Jesus.


Making Changes, Taking Risks

Ask him where you are playing it safe? What changes can (or should) you be making that express your trust in his provision and the Father’s care? What decisions in your life reflect a lack of faith? What would it look like to really live by faith?

Don’t forget to look for selfish-ambition in these choices. Be careful that you are not seeking your own glory in taking unnecessary (foolish) risks in the name of faith. But you know, we all fall into that trap at some point. Thankfully, there is grace for that.

But when the risk is for his glory and serves as an expression of faith, then, by all means, follow Jesus. If he calls you to walk on the water, don’t look down. Trust the scars and keep your eyes on the one “who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24).


What Do You Want to Do?

About fifteen years ago, I was being interviewed for a position with a church that would require a move to a new state. The pay and benefits were going to be much greater than the church I was serving at the time. It was a great church in every way.

But I struggled with the decision.

Eventually, I contacted the lead pastor, a seasoned man with decades of experience and asked, “How do I make this decision?”

I was all worked up about the future. What was I going to mess up? How would the dominoes fall? I wanted to do God’s will. But I couldn’t see past my face.

His answer was profound in its simplicity, which actually was a question.

“What do you want to do?” He was saying, “God has made you with unique gifts, experiences, and desires. What is it that resonates? Don’t answer according to what you think you should do or what others expect you to do or what is easiest or safest? What do you want to do? Answer that question, and go for it!”

I didn’t take the job. I wanted to stay where I was and see that ministry through.

For a while, I sincerely believed I had ruined my life and blown the best opportunity I’d ever have in ministry—which could be true. 😎 But I also was set on a course that would teach me invaluable lessons which would shape me as a husband, father, and disciple of Jesus like no other path could have done.


“What if I could live the life I want to live rather than the life I have to live—the life others expect me to live?”

For some reason, that “what if” stirs something within me. Maybe it does inside you, too. On one hand, it sounds kind of pop-psychology-ish. But on the other, it sounds like Jesus.

The disciples had a plan for his life. Certainly, Mary did, too. And none of those plans included Jesus taking the road of suffering to Golgatha. Jesus didn’t play it safe but set his face toward Jerusalem to die as a sin-substitute for his people. It was not easy but it was worth it. In fact, it was for his joy that he endured the cross.

Saving you and me is what he wanted to do.

Now, in view of the cross, what do you want to do? It is an honest question. The hard part may be giving an honest answer. However you do answer, I pray that it will awaken the dreamer within who is willing to follow Jesus wherever he leads—and be sustained in places that don’t change, even when we wish they would.

The truth (and great hope) of the gospel is that one day, for those who have received the mercies of God in Christ, the Lord will make all things new. Our greatest dreams will be realized, with grace as the atmosphere and glory filling the sky. The fullness of joy will abound in a realm where there will be no more tears, sorrow, crying, or pain.


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