In the movie Up In the Air, George Clooney plays a rather 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 many people would consider needs. But at the same time, 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 exchange with a man he’s firing stands out to me.
Understandably frustrated, the character we only know as Bob wonders aloud what he will do next to support his family. Ryan consoles him while at the same time offering him advice designed to challenge him to move 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 frier 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. It continues to weigh heavily on my mind even now. To many, Bingham’s pep talk may seem ill-timed and even a bit heartless, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Ryan is speaking not only to a man who finds himself at an occupational crossroad, but to everyone.
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 the seemingly impossible (or the consequences of eating strange foods late in the evening). 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. But in spite of this knowledge many of us are like Bob – willing to abandon 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 pursuit of God’s directive for His people and for the world.