How many mom’s have stayed up most of the night feeding, changing, and rocking a baby so that everyone else in the house could sleep, except them? How many wives have cooked, cleaned, and run the errands so that their husbands could have his home a place of reprieve? How many friends have had those “uncomfortable-I don’t-want-to-bring-this up-awkward” conversations with their despondent friend in efforts to restore a relationship? How many extra shifts, late night emails, and forfeited days off have occurred just so advancement within a career was even just a possibility? How many college loans, sleepless nights, tanks of gas? The good things in life don’t come easy. Love, people, and success are often terribly inconvenient. But they are so worth it!
It’s not uncommon to be told to “Dream Big.” I’ve heard this motto on television, seen it printed on pillows, and have even touted it myself. It’s motivational and a powerful way to remind a person, there is a God-given purpose you were meant to live out. But what if that motto was switched to “Sacrifice Big”? Suddenly, those warm, fuzzy feelings seem to diminish. It sounds less like a fight song and more like a cost. But what if this is a more complete picture of what “dreaming big” entails?
“Let perseverance finish it’s work…”
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple’” (Luke 14:25-27). I can’t say this is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It’s kind of hard to hear–not really one of those butterfly and roses, lovey-dovey topics. But Jesus was addressing something critical. There is a small clarifying comment that perhaps sheds a lot of light on Jesus’ proceeding remarks. It says, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus.” Jesus was gaining popularity. He was trending. If it were happening now-a-days, He probably would have had a huge surge of “likes” and “followers,” gaining viral speed on social media and YouTube networks. He might have even been branded with cute thermoses, T-shirts and quippy hashtags. Jesus had a crowd of “followers” but He knew that His true friends were the ones who were willing to pay the price. Jesus didn’t need hype and big dreams. He needed people who would give up everything they had, everything they held close, for the success of His Kingdom and God’s redemptive story.
True success is not found in the dreams, it’s found in the trench work. It’s the day-in, day-out grind of doing your best despite your fatigue, defeat, and obstacles. Although the dream is the motivator, when the rubber meets the road, the success of the dream really hinges on one’s ability to pay the price. Being successful is not convenient. It often takes money, exorbitant amounts of time, late nights, no sleep, and countless cups of coffee. But the successful person finds, that all those things are worth it for the sweet taste of victory.
Obstacles and defeat will knock on your door like a pesky neighbor. They will remind you of previous failures, shallow insecurities, and mocking voices from the years past. You will often begin to question, “Is it worth it?” “Am I doing something wrong?” “Can this dream really become a reality?” but the person who is willing to pay the price, will repeatedly press on through the foggy disillusionment.
No good thing comes without sacrifice. Marriages don’t last 50 years without compromise. Children don’t get sick when its most convenient for work. Degrees aren’t granted because of good looks and whit. No. Rather it all takes work. If you want to advance, if you want to kick an addiction, if you want to lose the weight, or write the book or get the raise or travel the world…you have to give it all you’ve got and persevere when the stakes are high. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
Sacrifice big so that your dreams become your reality. You have the potential to change not only your life, but the lives of the generations after you. Paving your path to success is not going to be an easy road, but you need not fear because Jesus is willing to be with you in the trenches. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for how He would one day return to Heaven, He knew they would face trials, hardship, and confusing suffering. He knew the road of discipleship would be war-torn and challenging. So He reminded them of a promise and a gift, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:25-27).
God sees the sacrifices you are making—your work is not in vein. Go to Him when you are weary, and let Him breath life back into your lungs so that you can savor every sweet second of success.