I was only two years old the first time I saw Cinderella’s Castle towering over Main Street. The smell of popcorn popping at the park entrance, the big band music playing down the street, the steam engine train circling around the perimeter – all of it was magical. I grew up with library shelves stocked with fairy tales, a bedroom clad with Minnie Mouse wallpaper, and my imagination filled with wild adventures. My sister and I even picked out our favorite one of the seven dwarfs… mine is Dopey, in case you were wondering.
From two years old and on, I was officially a Disney girl. I had big eyes, a big heart, and an even bigger attitude. No one could stop me. If I could dream it, I could do it. At least, that’s what I believed.
I remember hearing the song “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and hoping that if I just kept believing then all my dreams would come true. But it wasn’t until I got older that I asked myself what dreams I was dreaming.
What dreams are you dreaming?
In musical theatre there is a popular term, coined the “I wish or “I want” song. It is believed to be the song that drives the plot line forward by declaring what the character truly desires. Every Disney movie has one. In fact, it’s often the most famous song in every Disney Princess movie.
Someday My Prince Will Come – Snow White
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella
Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty
Belle – Beauty and the Beast
Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid
Reflection – Mulan
When Will My Life Begin – Tangled
How Far I’ll Go – Moana
Moana wonders how far she’ll go, Belle wants adventure in the great wide somewhere, and Snow White dreams of when her prince will come. Which song is the best? The LA Times created a poll to decide. So far, Ariel is winning. Whether it’s a prince or adventure or finding her place in this world, every Disney princess wants something, and throughout the story, we see her dreams come true. Every. Single. Time.
What if your dreams don’t come true?
Every princess finds what she is looking for when she pursues the longings of her heart. But I’m not a princess, and life isn’t a fairytale. So what happens when your dreams don’t come true?
Why doesn’t God give us the desires of our hearts? Why don’t we always get what we want? Because our will isn’t aligned with His will.
You can’t always get what you want
If we want something that’s outside of God’s will, God will say “no”. When God says “no”, it’s not because He’s being a bully. It’s because He knows what’s best for us. He’s being a good Father.
Just a few weeks ago, my friend Jessica and her two little boys came into town for the weekend. Life with two rambunctious toddlers is tiring, and yet she handles it with much grace and persistence. I watched as the oldest boy dashed into the street. I froze, but my friend didn’t skip a beat. She caught him by the arm as she warned him never to do that again! It wasn’t the first time she had to say “no”, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Thankfully, my friends little boy had only dashed across a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac, but next time he might not be so lucky! When we are persistent in our sin, we can eventually get what we want even when it brings us to our own destruction. We have the free will to live outside of God’s will. As little kids, we can wander into the street and disobey our parents. And as children of God, we often find ourselves disobeying Him. When we are persistent, we will eventually be turned over to our own desires. And that is a far worse reality. I’d much rather have God tell me “no” than say “yes” to something that would harm me.
Romans 1:23, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who us forever praised. Amen.“
But what if you want good things?
If you believe the gospel message of scripture, then you know that we are broken, sinful people who often want what is contrary to God.
So often, in our human condition, we flat out want the wrong things. But the trickier, more elusive reality is that we want the right things for the wrong reasons.
James 4:3 tells us, when we ask for things with the wrong motives, we will not receive them.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
Maybe you want to stay a virgin. That’s good. But if it’s for any reason other than your love for God, you will wind up failing or miserable. Maybe you want to keep up a good reputation, or you think you’ll be blessed with a better marriage. If you want to stay a virgin for any reason other than loving God, you want the right thing for the wrong reasons.
Maybe you want to get married someday because you want to be happy. You want to have your own made for TV romance. You don’t want to be #foreveralone. You want the right thing for the wrong reasons.
Maybe you sing on your church worship team, not because you desire to lead others into genuine worship but because it makes you look good. You have a beautiful voice. You want to be noticed. And you like the way it makes you feel. You want the right thing for the wrong reasons.
You know who was good at doing the right thing? The Pharisees. They kept 248 commandments and 365 restrictions throughout their expanded version of the Jewish law. That’s a lot of rules to follow! But their hearts weren’t in it. Their outward deeds may have fooled man, but they had no purity of the heart.
Motives matter the most
Man may look at your outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart ( 1 Samuel 16:7). Our love for God should be our motive.
When we want something for our own benefit, it’s selfishness. When we want something for our own reputation, it’s conceit. When we want something for our own righteousness, it’s pride. But when we truly want what God wants, our motives are pure. We want it in His time and in His way because He knows what’s best. We want to stay a virgin because we believe in God’s design for sexuality. We want to get married because we know that marriage symbolizes His love for the church. We want to serve others because we love Him and He loves them too.
Do you want what God wants?
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude… As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Despite what Disney tells us, a happy life isn’t about all your wishes coming true, it’s about the motives of your heart. It’s not about what you get but what you want. What are the desires of your heart? What are you wishing for in the first place?
John Piper says,”We can live for our will or God’s will, or we could have our passions so transformed that we need not choose between the two.”
If the desire of your heart are properly aligned with God’s will, when you love what he loves, when you want what he wants, that’s the real dream come true.
Through out the month, we are going to open the chapters of our favorite childhood fairy tales to uncover the biblical realities behind our wildest fantasies. Follow along for the series: Fantasies & Fairy tales!