There’s nothing wrong with ambition.
We all have hopes and dreams we seek to accomplish one day. Maybe it’s the college of your dreams or graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Maybe it’s working for that amazing company or becoming the CEO. Maybe it’s a big house, a farm, or a penthouse apartment in the city. We all, like so many before us, seek that white picket fence—our perfect life.
But here’s the thing about white picket fences: not many exist. I’d be hard-pressed to find any meaningful statistic on the amount of these fences throughout the United States. But, considering the white picket fence has become the symbol of the American dream, we see fairly little of it.
We often get stuck on an idea. If I only had this, then life would be perfect. We seek to build our white picket fences to keep in the good and keep out the bad. The fence symbolizes everything we could ever want.
But then reality strikes. Life, like a demolition team, rushes in and brings down everything that felt stable. Suddenly, there’s nothing to build the fence around. You’re left with a shattered mess of boards and nails, your can of whitewash paint toppled ten feet away, and all that’s left is you.
But you’re alive. That’s something, right?
Frantic, you return to building. The fence leans left at an angle, unpainted and tired, a reflection of your own mind and soul. Exhausted. Afraid. In desperation you ask yourself, “What am I trying to keep out?”
A better question: what do you have left to keep in?
It’s funny how life works. Your white picket fences are repurposed, now hastily built walls. Soon you find yourself crouched, hiding behind your hodgepodge fortress. Dreams are forgotten. White picket fences abandoned. All you now seek is survival. Disappointment like bombs dropping deafens you. Your heart, overwhelmed by shame and derision, cowers in fear. You shut yourself off. Your fences-turned-walls, your only protection from the horror reality throws at you.
Yet, in the midst of the cacophony, a still, small voice. “Come to me and rest.”
“Rest? REST?!” Your thoughts spiral out of control. You start building faster, drowning out the beckoning whisper with the clanging of your hammer. Board by board you continue to isolate.
“Rest? What do you know about rest?” Your mind races. “Now? You dare me to rest? On what grounds?”
The great deluge of grief intensifies. The noise grows ever louder. Afraid, you hunch even deeper into your fortress.
A still, small voice. “I will protect you.”
“I’m protected,” you convince yourself. “I need no one.” You build ever faster. The attack may not stop, but you will fight it with everything you’ve got. “I can protect myself.”
All at once, the final blow. Fences long forgotten; your new walls are destroyed. You sit, exposed and afraid. Two weeks ago, you were building your white picket fences. Now, you sit among rubble.
Then, breaking the deafening silence after the blast, a still, small voice.
“I am your hiding place.”
“I will never forsake you.”
“You are mine.”
A tear slips down your cheek.
“Me?” you question.
One look at the rubble brings a wave of sobs. You stand from your hiding place, seeking to assess the damage in this calm after the storm. Within moments, you’re brought to your knees. The loss is more than you can bear. Pain tears at your insides, and escape becomes your only option.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!” you scream in desperation.
Again, you cry, “CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME? DOES ANYBODY CARE?”
The question hangs in the air for a moment.
Then, a still, small voice. “I do.”
A shadow falls on the place where you kneel. You look up to see a hand reaching down, looking to take yours.
“Will you follow me? I love you.”
“Me?” You cower further.
“I will protect you.”
“What do I have to lose?” You think to yourself, “All I had has already been lost.” Cautiously, you look up, and your eyes are met with a gentle smile. All at once, peace consumes you. Where for so long there was turmoil, trust prevails. You place your hand in His.
The shadow speaks in the same still, small voice. “Follow me. I will give you rest.”
And so, you stand. Your steps, though shaky at first, soon follow precisely in the steps of your Savior.
The rubble of hopes and dreams smolders as you walk away. You remember the white picket fences. Wouldn’t they make you happy? How could you walk away? You pause for a moment, looking back at what could have been. The anxiety creeps back into your soul.
“You didn’t work hard enough,” pride says. “Come back. You don’t need help.”
The Savior brings your eyes to His. Gently, His still, small voice reminds you, “I am all you need.”
With that, you turn your back on the dreams. Picket fences and half-built walls are left to decay in the wreckage of a life without hope. Before you, a bright light. You follow the Savior, hand in hand, unwavering though you hear the telling noise of another attack. You pause again. Fear breeds hesitation. Uncertainty overwhelms your tired heart.
The Savior whispers, “Do you trust me?”
Another step. Your hand in His.
His still, small voice. “I will give you rest.”