In the movie, Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a complex character named Ryan Bingham. Over the course of the film, we see many different sides of his personality. He is a loner, unmoved by many of the feelings and emotions that most people would consider needs. However, he is not completely devoid of compassion. In many ways his cold demeanor makes him more effective in his job as a corporate downsizing expert. One conversation he has with a man as he’s firing him stands out to me.
Understandably frustrated, the character we only know as Bob wonders aloud what he’s going to do to support his family. Ryan consoles him while at the same time offering him advice designed to challenge him as he moves forward with his life. This leads to the following exchange:
Ryan Bingham: Your resume says you minored in French Culinary Arts. Most students work the fryer at KFC. You busted tables at Il Picatorre to support yourself. Then you got out of college and started working here. How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?
Bob: Twenty seven thousand a year.
Ryan Bingham: At what point were you going to stop and go back to what made you happy?
How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams? It’s a question that struck me when I first heard it. To many, Ryan’s pep talk may seem ill-timed and even a bit heartless. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Ryan is not only speaking to a man at an occupational crossroads. This is a question that applies to anyone who has ever dreamed of doing something they love.
Dreams are a special gift that God places into our lives. The world might tell us that our dreams are the creations of our minds wherein we imagine things that are seemingly impossible (or the consequences of eating strange foods before bed). For many that definition would be enough, but as a believer in Christ we are able see dreams for what they really are – a revelation of what God has spoken over our lives. Unfortunately, despite this knowledge, many of us are like Bob. Life brought about challenges that scared us into abandoning the promises revealed in our dreams to pursue quick fixes and easy paths leading nowhere in particular.
Numbers 12:6 is clear in telling us that “When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.” Our pursuits in life are designed to lead us to that place where we can discover who God created us to be and how our life fits into His plan here on earth and eternally in heaven. We can take comfort from the certain knowledge that we were created and designed by a God who made us with a purpose in mind and a role to play.
May we strive to search those dreams in accordance with God’s will for His people and for the world.