I always thought I knew what it was to be brave in the Kingdom.
As a little girl, I envisioned forsaking life as I knew it for the mission field. Or adopting children from faraway lands. Or sharing my testimony on a stage with smoke and lights.
I still may do these things and more, but bravery has taken on a different form.
My grandest moments of bravery have not included planes, papers or platforms.
They have been in the stillness, in the quiet, God asking me to lay down my plans.
While dreaming of bravery, I had also been constructing a future world. A world in which I had a husband, a great job and a modest, but adorable home by 25. Then children would come into the picture and maybe I would take a few years off work, or uproot my family to go abroad. I was willing. I was willing to be brave for God - but on my turf.
It only took a few years of college to see this world start to crumble. None of these things happened, rather none of these things even began to happen. I chose an open-ended major with unknown job prospects. I went on a few dates but found that scene to be crushingly overrated. I faced my very real emotional incompetence to handle the responsibility of starting a family.
So “lay down my plans” doesn’t really cover it. God asked me to demolish a world with him.
Have you seen Inception? If not, you should watch it ASAP as possible, but here are the basics.*
In this scene, Cobb and Ariadne take a tour through his old dream world - limbo. Cobb and his wife spent years constructing it. For a while, it was their heaven. They brought in familiar elements from their past and built their ideal future. It was everything they wanted - but it didn’t last. It didn’t last because it wasn’t real. And eventually, they had to forsake their beloved limbo for reality.
That’s what it felt like God was saying to me. “This is a great plan and all, but it’s not real. It’s not what I have for you. And the longer you hold on to it, the longer you’re stuck in limbo.”
Limbo looks like aching for a life that’s not yours. It looks like holding on to old blueprints while God has some brick and mortar dreams ready to construct with you. That’s where the bravery comes in - going back to the drawing board with God. Somedays it feels like I live in a game of Mario Kart or Crash Bandicoot. When I’m cruising through these worlds, the trees and track appear before me as I go. Other days it straight up feels like I stepped off a cliff. I’m falling and frightened and confused. It took me a while to realize that this feeling does not mean I have taken a misstep. It’s a clue that I am trusting, learning and giving up control.
And in Inception, a fall is what wakes you up to reality.
In an earlier scene, Cobb teaches Ariadne to build dream worlds. He has certain guidelines but ultimately encourages her imagination to let loose. This is how my relationship with God began to look. Him, right my side, guiding and encouraging. And me, loving and learning and learning to love the world we were - are - constructing together.
I still have an amorphous idea of my future job. I don’t have plans to pursue a relationship right now. In this new world, I have space to travel, to focus on my emotional and mental health, and to develop a deeper relationship with God. It’s scary, but so exciting.
There are still days I review the old blueprints. I have grieved them time and time again. Like Cobb, it was as though I had grown old in that world already. But ultimately, it wasn’t real and it wasn’t good. And God and I are working on something real and good right now.
There are a lot of verses about the Christian future, but this has always been one of my favorites:
“There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18
There is a heart rhinestone next to that verse in my old pink and orange NIV bible. When I first put it there as a 15-year-old, it symbolized a future husband. At 19, it was an exciting, world-traveling job. Now, I don’t have a clue what it is except a sweet promise from a near and dear God. A promise that the trees and track will keep appearing, that stepping off the edge with Him means awakening to a new level of reality.
Lord, thank you for making me brave. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for the imagination you have given me. You are the ultimate creator and I trust that we are building something altogether new and needed in your Kingdom.
*Inception: A gaggle of guys and one gal are able to construct dream worlds - dreams within dreams - and find out people’s secrets from these dreams. Seriously, watch it for $3.99 here.
Author | Claire Jordan