My husband has me hooked on How I Met Your Mother. I fell in love with all the characters in the first episode. Which felt amazing because we’ve all watched a pilot (or the first 2 minutes of a pilot) and thought, “Good Lord, this is horrible, I’m never watching this again.” Once again, Netflix proves to Lays that sometimes you really can eat just one because you end up spitting it out. This was not the case with HIMYM. It reminded me of all the best comedy shows I’ve binged before. It reminded me of all the best bars I’ve binged before. It was wonderful.
Then a couple of nights ago, I had a dream in which my husband, Marshall and Lily (two of the characters) were present. I distinctly remember waking up and realizing that I was dreaming an episode that my husband and I had watched the night before. I don’t remember what episode it was, but I DO remember thinking, ‘who’s dream is this? Is this mine or Lily’s?’.
This is not the first time I’ve asked this question. I also asked it while I was standing in front of a mirror in a tiny student-housing bathroom at Oxford University. I had been applying for theology and seminary programs (both at Oxford and in the U.S.) and was getting rejected over the stupidest things. Seriously, it wasn’t my fault. My professor’s recommendation letters were not arriving on time, my online application accounts were vanishing into thin air. I’m not kidding. It was like somebody didn’t want me to go to seminary.
So I asked the mirror. “Whose dream is this? Why am I peeking through all these doors only to have them shut on me? GOD, WHY ARE YOU SHUTTING ALL THESE DOORS?”
And the response I heard in my head was almost audible.
“Casey, take a hint.”
I’m really glad I didn’t go to seminary. I think I would have hated it. I love what I do now. I love working with artists. I love being the ‘museum person’ people call when they think they found the next Antiques Roadshow Jackpot in their attic. And I love being the kind of pastor’s wife who doesn’t know everything about what my husband teaches, because I love learning from him along with his congregants. What I also love is that God closes more doors than He opens.
God’s will for His children is not secret, it is in His Word if we would only read it. But He also has a special mission for each of us that demands pursuit. Abraham wasn’t going to learn his mission without following God’s command to GO any more than I could win the lottery without buying a ticket. Sometimes, we have to just DO something. In fact, Kevin DeYoung wrote one of my favorite books with this exact title.
But in the ‘just doing’ and the ‘going’, we have to ask ourselves this question: Am I going because God told me or because I want my answer? At some point on this journey we have to ask, “What’s my light at the end of the tunnel? What’s my hope that keeps me going?” Because if we are hoping and striving and running with perseverance so that God can give us a very specific job in a very specific place with a very specific payroll, not only are we hoping in something, not someone, but we are making what hope we do place in that someone conditional upon our getting what we want.
Personally, I found that once I stopped hoping for seminary, stopped striving for graduate school (which I was rejected from, go figure), and stopped running with perseverance towards my dream for my life, once I started reading God’s Word and finding His dream for my life, a dream for me to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him, that’s when every single day became a victory. And I like winning days a heck of a lot more than losing days. Don’t you?