“the real secret is to ‘give up’ on your dreams?”
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend TruthAtWork’s annual conference, America’s Best Hope. (#ABH2016) Candidly, having spent a few years on the the conference circuit, I’m at a point where all day conferences aren’t necessarily as inspiring as they once were. That being said, I felt this years ABH was one of the best I’ve attended.
ABH has always been a little unique in it’s ability to bring together a wide range of speakers with differing live’s experiences. Historically, most typically have been “successful” Christian leaders in the marketplace who’ve shared great teaching for which most tie back to a solid biblical foundation. It’s not your Sunday church service, so there traditionally hasn’t been a lot of preaching the Gospel from stage. I say traditionally as that wasn’t the case in 2016 which likely is in part why I say it was the best year yet. Jesus was lifted up high by nearly every speaker this year. That being said, this wasn’t the theme that truly stuck with me throughout the day.
The theme that was woven into the entire day for me was how most of these great leaders went through a time of intense “suffering” and “brokenness” prior to completely “surrendering” to the “purpose” driven life they are fulfilling today. Yes, Anne Graham Lotz set the stage with her teaching of Revelation 1 and John’s eyewitness account of what he’d scene with “his very own eyes”. Throughout her storytelling and preaching the Gospel, Anne continually referenced our need to “surrender” to God’s “purpose” for our lives. She referenced how hard “surrender” tends to be and how God will use times of intense “suffering” and “isolation” to draw us near bring us to a point of complete “surrender”.
Jim Munroe, Christian Illusionist, shared of his battle with cancer and pleading with the Lord to show him He was real. God showed up in an incredible way by identifying the one person on earth with blood (bone marrow) whom could save his life. God now used Jim’s story to tell of the spiritual cancer we all have within us that needs the blood of Jesus to cure.
Phil Vischer, Founder & CEO of Jellyfish Labs, Creator of Veggie Tales shares of his success with animated film only to see that dream taken away losing it all. He shared how he had become so focused on doing the Lord’s work, he’d missed the point in his own personal relationship with God. God had to strip it all away to “break” Phil to a point of “surrender”. A type of “surrender” where all the world’s success was now meaningless.
Col. Lee Ellis, a retired United States Air Force Colonel, shared his story of being a POW in captivity for 5 years. It was during this time his faith grow exponentially. Encountering the intense physical and emotional torture POWs experience back in his times, one only has his faith in God, fellow brothers, and country to lean upon. While not as specifically spelled out, you could see “brokenness” and “surrender” once again woven throughout his story.
Then, finally, was Kirk Perry, President, Brand Solutions at Google. Previously a high flyer at Procter & Gamble Comp, Kirk was the stereotypical corporate executive who found is value and worth in his career. Leaving his family nearly every Monday morning, flying around the world, not to return under Friday, his family had an absent father. Then, with one phone call, it all began to change. Kirk’s father-in-law spokes the words “(daughter’s name) has cancer”. Yes, Kirk’s world came to a screeching halt as he sat by his daughters bedside pleading to give it all up for his daughter’s life. God answered those prayers which was only part of the story. Shortly following Kirk’s joining Google, he too discovered he had cancer for which continue to bring him to a point of “brokenness” and complete “surrender” to God’s purpose for his life.
In each of these stories one can see the pattern God often uses in the lives of the one’s He loves to get us to “give up” on our agenda for our lives so that He can use us for His agenda. As Phil Vischer relates, while God may give us some type of dream or vision of what it might look like to walk in His purpose, reality is it rarely ever looks like we thought it would look. In the end, what God wants is “YOU”! He wants to have a relationship with you in which you surrender to a purpose driven, fulfilling life beyond what you could every imagine possible.
So, what about you? Have you experience the type of “brokenness” I’m attempting to articulate? More importantly, have you “surrendered” it all to Him? No, I don’t mean just “accepting” Him for your salvation, I mean “surrendered” control of your life to Him. Could it be that contrary to the world’s teaching to pursue your dreams that the real secret is to “give up” on your dreams?
Great article, Chris. Really powerful!