The American Dream…peace, prosperity, protection, and prominence. These are the things we long and strive for. We’re told that, because we live in America, these things are ours for the taking, if we are willing to work hard enough to make them happen. There may be a measure of truth in that, but God’s take on this is a little different.
In Leviticus chapter 26, the Israelites were preparing to enter into the promised land of Canaan, and they were dreaming their own version of the American dream. But God wanted to make it clear that the things they longed for would not be realized and retained by their own ingenuity and hard work.
They would only realize their dreams when they honored God and submitted to Him as their source and satisfaction for life. God is the best of what life has to offer, because He is life itself. (John 14:6) (Acts 17:28) (Gen. 2:7). God loves us too much to allow us to short-change ourselves by self-sufficently scrambling for things we can’t produce, can’t sustain, and won’t completely satisfy.
When we start sliding into the pit of doing things our way to get what we think will bring us happiness, God will increasingly turn up the heat of consequences to get us back on the path of blessing as soon as possible. He wants to reveal the weakness of our pride and self-direction, and He wants to do this to bless us, not to break us. Even in our waywardness, His goal is to redeem us and restore us.
We must ask ourselves, “Am I trying to achieve security and satisfaction through scrambling for what I want or submitting to what God wants?” Am I more interested in the American dream, or God’s dream?
Bret Legg is the Teaching and Counseling Pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.