I wanted to be a fighter pilot, an astronaut or a scientist.
Of course I did. I was inspired by a generation of movies and events that put ordinary people into extraordinary roles. I loved watching Tom Cruise master the F14 in Top Gun. I wanted to be the kids from Space Camp, who had to figure out how to bring their accidentally launched Space Shuttle back to earth. And, yes, I believed I could be Marty McFly, traveling through time to save Doc Brown (I had already learned so much from MacGyver).
What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s a legitimate question. It’s fun to ask it of little kids graduating from kindergarten—firefighter, pro football player, ballerina. It’s important to ask it to teens considering where to go to college and what to study—entrepreneur, engineer, graphic designer.
But it’s a question that’s just as important for you and me to answer because it inspires us to dream—to step out of the comfort of who we are to become who we were meant to be.
Don’t get me wrong. There is no shame in loving what you do—and who you are—right now. But we shouldn’t be satisfied to sit there in the shade, if it causes us to stop dreaming about who we could become.
“Somewhere on the road to adulthood we decided that dreams were dumb,” writes Jon Acuff in his bestselling book Do Over. “We stopped wanting to be firemen and astronauts and settled for stuck and predictable. We accepted the lie that Monday must be boring.”
And, in Isaiah 30, the people of Judah get the same sort of warning. It don’t know if it was boring, but it certainly wasn’t where God wanted them. They had settled. They were stuck. And they had given up dreaming. They had become content to trust in the security of Egypt, rather than the vision of the Lord their God (v. 3).
“But Egypt’s shade,” the prophet wrote, “will bring you disgrace.”
Hmm. That shade… It must have seemed nice, for a while. We all stop to rest there at times: enjoying a break from the blistering pace of life, the scrambling to catch up or get ahead. We seek shelter there from the things that drive us from one activity to another. And we become content there. We fall asleep. And we forget that it was just for a time.
And God did not intend for the people of Judah to wake up day after day, satisfied to remain in that place either. He was calling them to something better, but their unwillingness “to listen to the Lord’s instruction,” became the seeds of rebelliousness and deceit (verse 9).
They had grown tired of dreaming. They were tired of believing that God had a better place for them. Tired of dreaming of a higher calling for their nation. Tired of walking toward a place of greater impact. They had stopped walking in God’s way, and convinced themselves that the shade was good.
Stop giving us visions, the rebellious people cried out. Stop giving us dreams that will cause us to leave this comfortable place.
Instead, verse 10 says they wanted “pleasant things,” and preferred the illusion of comfort to the reality of God’s plan for them.
And so do we.
When the pastor challenges us to invite a neighbor to church, we prefer to rest in the shade.
When the Spirit prompts us to pray with the woman at work, we prefer the shelter of the comfortable.
When God calls us to step out in faith in our careers, in our studies, in our ministries… we would rather remain where we are, where it is safe, where it is known.
And yet, in Isaiah 30:18, the prophet says to the people of Judah, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you.” And He wants to be gracious to you (and me) too.
Verse 19 says, “How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” And when we call for His help—ask for his direction—God will open our eyes too. Verse 21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”
You see, God does not want you (or us, or the church) to sit where we are in the shade any longer. He invites us to turn towards Him… to dream a little, and then have courage to step out of the shade and walk in truth and direction of the Lord our God.
This is the way; walk in it.
What are you dreaming about? Where is God calling you to take a step out of the shade, the comfortable, to walk in His truth and direction for you?