Following your God-given dreams
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." – 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
Most of us would never steal and find cheating to be reprehensible. Yet, we often steal from ourselves by minimizing or failing to live up to our own potential.
We do this by rationalizing or justifying why now is not the time to act on a flash of inspiration or a task that looms larger in the light of procrastination than the reality of applied effort. Philip James Bailey, an English poet of the 19th century, said, "The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one's self."
There may be several reasons why we cheat ourselves. The first is because we esteem ourselves to lowly. The second may be a lack of courage. Lack of courage occurs on a continuum of fear. At either end is failure or success. The third condition is often fear of regret. Let me challenge each, briefly.
At some point in my early years of pastoral ministry, the verse above came to life in my being. I dreamed and watched a dream come to greater fruition than I could have imagined. In retrospect, even though I was now awake, I was not courageous enough to walk into that portal of destiny.
God directed me to plant a church in Reading, Pennsylvania. We named it Rehoboth. We found a temporary worship site, but God planted a thought in my mind. I called the Lincoln Hotel to inquire about renting one of their three ballrooms on Sabbath from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for one year.
I was referred to the owner, a kind, elderly Jewish woman. When we met, she asked me what I wanted. My reply was clear and succinct, to rent one of your ballrooms every Sabbath for one year. Her reply still echoes in my mind to this day. She said, “Why rent a ballroom when you could own the entire hotel?”
I responded that I don’t need the entire hotel. She persisted in her inquiry. I responded that “My mission was to plant and build a church, I know nothing about hotel management.”
When I perceived that she was serious and that she was responding to a movement of God in her life, my thoughts and dreams expanded. I did not ultimately acquire the hotel, because my faith was too small, but the lesson that I learned from that event was that we often miss God’s best for us because of our own timidity, flawed humility, broken spiritual connections and an inability to see and receives gifts from God with a thankful spirit.
There is a difference between humility and low personal regard. A lump of coal, when fuel is needed, is more valuable than a diamond. A diamond really is a lump of coal that persisted for a long time while under intense pressure. I was given a diamond and did not know how to receive it. I did not feel worthy, or qualified. God can and does call the gifted. He also gifts the called.
So, a remedy for cheating ourselves is to reassess our value, first within and later in each of our social contexts. Pray, meditate, communicate with God, not just about what we want from Him; listen to what He wants for you, then He will guide you into what He needs you to do.
The issue of courage, or the lack thereof, is an internal fight. Harold Wilson coined a secret of success when he said; “Courage is the art of being the only one who knows that you are scared to death.” Practice helps to overcome fear. Self disciplines, like getting up earlier in the morning and making time to commune with God can change your immediate perceptions and open your perceptions to God’s plan for your day and your future.
Act on your initiatives with prayerful boldness. Divorce your mediocrity. Stop waiting to find yourself or to be found and valued. Prayerfully dream of the life, career, experiences and acquisitions that you would like to have, then get about creating it. It is when we take the requisite steps toward fulfillment that God intervenes. Put your foot into the stream of your destiny and God will part the way for your successful journey!
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.