I love old movies, especially old musicals. I discovered the art of the 1930s-1950s movie while I was in high school and fell in love. I could tell you why it is these films captivated me but we'd be here for a very long time; once I started watching them I couldn't stop. While most kids my age were watching junk on Fox and the WB I was watching Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and countless others dance across my screen. And while I don't watch these films like I used to they still hold a certain interest for me, every once in a while I will randomly start singing For Me and My Gal. If you were to ask me why I'm not sure I'd be able to tell you, especially since I haven't seen the film in well over a year.
At any rate, I really do enjoy these films. Given the choice between watching something on AMC and going to see the latest blockbuster you can count on the fact that I'll be at home in front of my TV. Interestingly enough one of my many dreams I had before I knew Christ was that I wanted to open a movie theater and only show old films. I had the decor picked out, the candy selection, even a general price plan. But somewhere along the line the dream faded. I can't tell you where, when, or why - it just did. Have you ever had that happen? Have something catch your heart and you're so sure that this is the thing, this is what you're going to do and then slowly you realize that you're not going to do it? Perhaps you don't even realize it at the time but it imperceptibly fades, the passion for this new thing in your life begins to cool and eventually dies.
I look back over my live and I see how often this happened. Movie theater, veterinarian, paramedic, librarian, science teacher, English teacher, preschool teacher - and those are just the ones I can recall of the top of my head. Why is that I wonder? I know I'm not alone in this, I know there are many of you who went through (possibly still are) a million ideas of what you want out of your life. So, why is it one dream isn't enough? Why do these things fade?
When I was really little I wanted to be a vet, this is the first and primary dream of my childhood. I look back and realize it is because I loved animals and enjoyed caring for them. I can't tell you how many times I brought stray animals home, turtles, dogs, cats, bunnies, wounded birds; any animal that looked out of place would find its way to my home. Remarkably my mother never protested it, she never told me to stop bringing animals home. It is funny how patient she was with me, I wonder if she honestly thought I'd end up a vet or if she was just going to let the interest run itself out? Either way this continued on until seventh or eight grade - Oh, and no we didn't keep all the animals I brought home. We would either find homes in the neighborhood, find the original owners, find nature reserves to take them to, or in the case of a pair of wounded chicks I found in my back yard I simply made them as comfortable as I could while they passed.
After this I decided I wanted to be a paramedic, then a science teacher, then an English teacher, then a librarian, then onto the movie theater, and finally coming to rest on the preschool teacher half way through high school. But still I wonder, why did I go through so very many ideas? It's interesting, so many dreams, so many plans, well thought out plans even, have died. But why? The short answer is quite simply because they weren't based upon what God wanted for me. The long answer? They weren't what God wanted for me. The best laid plans will eventually fall flat if not based upon God's desire for one's life. How can I truly know what I truly need when the very changing of the wind brings new interests into my life and sweeps old ones away? I'm reminded of what Christ said:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Simply put all those dreams I had were built on the sand. And as the sand eroded so did my dreams. Yes, I realize this may not be the most conventional way of looking at this passage, but is it applicable? I think so. Just before this Christ warns us that not everyone who has seemingly done things in His name will enter the kingdom. What a frightening thought! But why would they not be welcomed into the kingdom? Perhaps part of the reason is because while they claimed to being coming in Christ's name, while they said they were doing God's work, they really weren't.
Perhaps something caught their interest and they never really stopped to ask if this is really what God wanted them to do. Perhaps in pursuing their dreams they were, in fact, running from the very plan God had for their life. Before we know Christ, before we submit to Him we like to fool ourselves into thinking that if we are good enough we'll get to heaven. If we're generally good people, doing good things...Or not doing majorly bad things...We'll enter the gates of the kingdom. If we feed the hungry, if we shelter the homeless, surely then we'll win brownie points with God. What foolishness. All the good we do, it is nothing if it is not done within Christ. If you're outside the will of God can you really serve God?
But what does this have to do with my movie theater you may be wondering? All these ideas I had, all these plans were built with good intentions. Indeed most of my life was done with good intentions, and yet that wasn't enough. It wasn't enough because God didn't call me to open a movie theater, or to be a paramedic, or a vet. My best laid plans fall flat when done outside of the will of God. And sometimes I sit and pester God, I say to Him, "God, why did this fail? Why didn't you bless it?"
But I know the answer, I know why He won't give me everything that catches my eye. Why did he tell Adam and Eve they couldn't have the apple? Why did Abraham's seed have to flow through Sarah rather than Hagar? Why did Christ have to die on the cross? Because He has a plan, and though things don't always make sense to us, though we think we have a good idea, though we think we know what is best for us the truth is we have no idea. We can't know what is what is best for us outside of knowing that following the Father wherever His Spirit leads is best for us. That is all we need to know. We can't do things our own way. If not done as He says and when He says, then can we honestly say we were serving Him?