Alrighty, let’s take it up a notch and press in. I will go first.
I doubt God, a lot. I can be honest with this, because He knows it and I have nothing to hide. I willingly invite him into the hidden parts to “see if there be any way in me that he finds detestable [and please excise it] and lead me in the way everlasting.” I specifically doubt that he knows what he is doing, so I choose to decide and plan for Him…you know…just in case He is too busy to come up with a plan or idea for my life. And mind you, for someone with ‘Ideation, Strategic and Self-Assurance’ in his Gallup Top Five Signature Themes, this comes naturally. But then again, as a human so does sin.
But come on, it just makes sense that I should make plans in the absence of clear guidance, right? It’s okay for me to run ahead of God and stop (occasionally) to wait for Him to catch up, isn’t it?
“Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.
Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good.
Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.
When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.
Far better to be right and poor than to be wrong and rich.
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”
Proverbs 16: 1-3 & 7-9 (The Message)
Hmm. The most essential part of Dreaming Big for your marriage is to open up and invite the God of miracles to come in and do some house cleaning and directional guidance. If I look back at the worst parts of what I have offered to my marriage, they have (by and large) consisted of what I provided of my own strength and “wisdom” (pejorative quotes). In the same sitting, if I reflect on what has made the most lasting impression of love on my wife, it stems from when I have obeyed a prompting from God. Now, I am not great at math, but I understand common denominators and I am beginning to see a pattern.
Now back to my doubt. Just like you, I doubt that God can move miraculously in my marriage. Not as much as I used to, but not nearly as little as I would like. It’s just human, though. We tally things, we add up wrongs and rights, expecting to be able to predict future behavior or possibilities as a means of avoiding future pain that resembles past pain. We emotionally treat marriage as some scientific research study to be conducted, and then lament that it has lost spontaneity and chemistry. Well we predicted all of that out when we started playing it safe. God is inviting us to use His credit line on the Texas Hold’em Championship Table of marriage, and for some reason we’re content to play solitaire over in the corner. We took the risk out of marriage (and consequently much of the reward) when we decided we are better off doing the Dreaming and Deciding, rather than to follow His lead and let Him show us what, indeed, is possible!
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him, these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (NIV)
Just plain, century’s old, humanity. You see, when Jesus showed up on the scene it was not at all what anyone was expecting, except maybe John the Baptist (who himself was surprised and subsequently beheaded because HE wasn’t fully understood or expected). And because no one knew what to look for, and they were not prepared to be open for whatever God had in mind, they missed out on God’s best.
As succinctly as I can put it, when people tried to Dream Big without God, they ended up crucifying God.
Intriguing, disconcerting and powerful, huh? So how do we end up avoiding the same mistake? Involve God. Yep, just that simple. It’s a daily practice that requires diligence and perseverance, but it really is that simple. Prior to his death and resurrection, Jesus foretold that he would leave behind the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, that would remind the disciples (and subsequently all followers of Christ) of all that he taught them, a guide for life. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that God reveals things to His people by (through) His Spirit. If you need to pause and check on why the Spirit may not be communicating well to or through you, we HIGHLY recommend Dr. Alice Cullinan’s book Time for a Check-Up.
Let me encourage you that as is made clear in this passage (and other scriptures) God has plans for you that are beyond your wildest Dreams. He is a big picture God who can see across time and space, rewriting the narrative that you both have been writing for your life and marriage. He can change the growth of your family tree from this point forward. Listen as he encourages the children He has exiled, children that abandoned Him, walked away and went about their own business, coming up with their own plans which eventually led to their national decimation (“there is a way that seems right to man but in the end leads to destruction” Psalm 16):
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
The hearers of this letter were in the worst possible place they could imagine, and without hope of rescue. They had been conquered, marched hundreds of miles away and lost the only symbol they had of the presence of God. Sounds kinda marriage sometimes, eh? Alone, despondent and desperate? They had every reason to give up hope and not “Dream Big.” But, God intervenes and reminds them that He is still there, still in control and has not given up on them. He is compassionate and longs to keep His promises.
So I encourage you, seek Him with both and all of your hearts. Call on Him because he loves being in the business of rescuing His people. He longs to give His people a hope and a future, because when you align your marriage according to His plans, then He plans to bless others through you. Corie and I have spoken volumes on multiple occasions about His ability to redeem the aggression and passivity of our destructive patterns early on, and we can attest to the good work He alone can do, with two surrendered hearts. Corie and I are living our Big Dream, because God came in and showed us what was possible, but only through Him.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived…the plans [He has] to give you a hope and a future.