This Tuesday in Chapel, Phil Vischer talked about his climb to success with the company that makes VeggieTales, Big Idea. But after the horrendous theater ticket sales of “Jonah,” a bad reception once the movie came out on DVD, and a legal case that left him bankrupt, he reached the conclusion that God pauses or drops your dreams sometimes so you can find out what is more important: him or those dreams.
All this is well and good. The problem comes when Phil explains exactly what people are to do when they don’t have a dream from God: nothing. I sincerely doubt that this is what he means. But it is what he said. In the end, Phil is right about dreams. They aren’t the point. God is the point, always. He said that once we get so caught up in our dreams of things to do for God we lose sight of God himself. True.
But do nothing? There are times when God scraps our plans. I think that for whatever reason, he even scraps his own plans. At least to our eyes.
So what is left for us to do when those dreams die? When I walked out of the Bill George Arena, part of me thought Phil was right – we need to just wait on God for his guidance. God is, after all, smarter than we are. But there was another part of me that thought he didn’t quite get it.
When God leaves us with almost nothing and no direction, we are still left with two things that we can do. The first thing I imagine Phil would agree to.
Micah 6:8 sets out a simple rule that applies to all of life. As the English Standard Version puts it, “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This doesn’t mean a detailed plan to change the world. It is simple response to circumstances every day.
The second thing will be more controversial. I think we shouldn’t scrap all dreams God doesn’t definitively affirm.
The life of Joseph illustrates my point. The guy did not get many commands from God that we know of, but that doesn’t mean he was not busy.
Joseph goes from getting sold into slavery to Pharoah’s captain of the guard, to being thrown into prison for charges of sexual assault, to finally getting promoted to second in the kingdom in Egypt. Wherever he went his work was blessed, even if the poor guy didn’t have a clue at the time how God would turn around all of the crap he was going through.
For over a year I’ve been dealing with depression. The way I started to get out of it was not receiving a revelation from God. In the end, it was a dream that helped me. It was not an all-consuming dream, just a little thought that after I left college I might pursue journalism and creative writing. I invested some time into developing these talents and interests that God had already put in me. I never stopped listening for God to tell me if I was going the right direction or if I needed to stop.
In the end, I believe the dream honored him and he confirmed that I was indeed going the right way.
I don’t believe God requires us to always have definitive confirmation before we invest in something. What Phil did get right was that when we go down that road we need to always be listening.