Paul David Tripp on Grace and Our Life Dreams

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We loved this entry from Paul David Tripp’s book of daily devotionals, New Morning Mercies, and thought we’d share:

Life is all about to whom and where you look for satisfaction of heart. The shape and direction of your life are determined by what you tell yourself will make you content. Everyone in some way says, “If only I had this, I would be content and able to stop looking for the next thing.” What sits on the other side of your “If-only”?

We are all dreamers. We all chase a vision of what we would like life to be. We all wish we were sovereign over our lives so our dreams would come true. We all fantasize and imagine. Now, this ability is not evil in and of itself, but combine it with the selfishness of sin, and it will surely get you and me in trouble.

Here’s what happens: it’s not just that you have a dream. It becomes your definition of “life.” You no longer hold your dream with open hands. What was once a desire has morphed into a demand, and it won’t be long before you view that demand as a need. This thing that you once wish that you had becomes your nonnegotiable, the thing that you are unwilling to live without. Soon you’re unhappy, not because life has been hard or God has been unfaithful, but because this thing that is effectively and functionally ruling your heart lies beyond your grasp. You are despondent and discouraged. You envy people who seem to have captured their dreams. You wonder why you’ve been singled out. You wonder why God has forgotten you. Dream? Yes, but when your dream becomes a ruling thing, it wreaks havoc on your spiritual life.

Pay attention also to what happens to your relationship with God as your dreams gobble up more of the turf of your heart. God is no longer the thing that motivates you and gives you courage and hope. God is no longer your source of sturdy joy. The glory of God is no longer the thing that you’re living for. Awe of God is no longer the reason you do everything you do. Sadly, God has been reduced to a delivery system; your Savior has become Neiman Marcus Jesus. If he delivers, you’ll worship and serve him, but if he fails to deliver, you will question his goodness and love, and you’ll have little motivation to offer your life to him.

I think there are thousands of Christians in this sad position. Perhaps this is what the Bible is picturing when it talks of those who have “abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4). However, there is grace for this struggle—grace that battles for your heart, grace that is more powerful than the draw of any dream. Own the dangerous dreams of your fickle heart and run to the grace that is yours in Jesus.

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