I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. — John 12:24-25 ESV A seed comes from the living flesh of a fruit. But it will never be more than a hard nuisance that gets stuck in our teeth unless it is buried in the ground. And even then, in the dark, it is encased in a thick shell — dead and hard. But under the dirt, flesh is birthed out of something lifeless. It breaks through and pushes to the surface; it moves and grows, running up and out of something that was dead. Now it’s alive — now it brings life. See, the life I want so badly lies on the other side of death. The life you want lies on the other side of death. That death is also called surrender. Still, we think, I can’t let go of control of my normal because it requires a little death. I know that tightening my grip will strangle what I’m holding, but I’m afraid of the sting that little death will produce. We’re afraid to let go, but we’ll start seeing the hope in it all once our hearts are set on God’s dreams. We are going to dream God’s dreams here. Maybe you started this journey with some idea of what you hope to dream about — a small business or a noble cause to save the world — and we will get there. But as Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, used to teach, until there is surrender, there is no vision.1 And Proverbs says, Where there is no vision, the people perish. — Proverbs 29:18 KJV We’ve talked about how scary it is to pray anything, handing over every dream for our lives — every hope, every remnant of control we think we have — to God, and we say, “You have all of it. You have me. I am Yours. Anything You want to do with me. Anything. I am in.” I’m serious. It is terrifying. But it’s essential to go back there again before we begin. We were bought with an enormous price, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 2:20). So if we don’t begin with surrender, we inevitably dream with vanity, with ego, with control. The scariest and safest thing I have ever done is pray this anything prayer — to hand complete control of my life and my dreams over to my God. We all have hopes of how our lives will turn out, and we all fear that if God actually has His way with us, He may slingshot us to the other side of the world or, worse, ask us to share Christ with the person in the house or cubicle next to ours. We are scared that God’s dreams for us may not be as cool as the ones we create. We who are saved have been set apart for a great purpose — and that great purpose is actually not a secret: we are to know God and make Him known. So we do not dream independently, and God does not sign off on our dreams. He is the builder of our dreams. We bring Him our blank canvases, hand them over, and say, “Whatever You must create to display Your glory, do it.” Better Dreams I do not lightly ask you to pray for surrender. We begin this process as every creator begins: with a blank canvas, hoping that something beautiful is about to come into being. But I have to tell you, there have been days when I have seen God painting pictures through our lives that I would give anything to paint over with my own brushstrokes. But we can’t know what the picture will turn out to be. Like any great artist, we have to be open to the mystery of inspiration: God creating something through us. One of the most basic human questions is: “What is God’s will for my life?” We are going to have so much fun answering this question. But until you are all in, you’ll be capable of dreaming only your own inadequate and small dreams. Because we are never free until we let go. The Beautiful Exchange If you feel too weary to dream — if you feel too empty to give — you are in good company. But with the ache for “easy” comes a whisper of bigger things. Know this: whatever God does with our lives, He is good and is fighting for us in the most noble ways; He gave His Son’s life to win us back. So might He pour our lives out in difficult ways? Yes. But He is the God of planets and my soul. He gave everything for us. So I will entrust my entire life to no one else. We surrender to a God who surrendered everything for us. I trust Him. He came down from Heaven to get to us. He is worthy of our surrender. How ridiculous for me to want to paint my own story. Great people do not do great things; God does great things through surrendered people. If I breathe on this earth for a few more decades, I would rather lose everything temporary for anything that is permanent. We make a beautiful exchange: Our short lives for forever. Our moving sand for the rock of a God who adores us. Our chains for running wild and free. Our unsatisfying wind for a purpose that will never fade. We get to dream. We get to live our lives worthy of the most amazing calling. As much as I want an umbrella drink by an ocean somewhere, I just as much want to never waste a minute of life. Can you pray, “God, anything. You have me”? If so, this is about to get fun. 1. Bill Bright, “Bill Bright Transcript,” Crosswalk.com, March 28, 2002, https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/bill-bright-transcript-1129622. html.