(Photo: Dan Delzell)
In the Garden of Eden, Eve was seduced by a fantasy. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it." (Genesis 3:6) Her choice to pursue that fantasy rather than stick to God's will was a costly error. Adam soon followed in his wife's footsteps, and together, they learned the difference between fantasy and reality.
God's reality as revealed in His inerrant Word is the reality you should be concerned about....rather than simply relying upon your current perception. It is often said, "Perception is reality." Well….perhaps to a certain extent that is true….that is, until God's reality bursts into your reality.
Many people today are living in a fantasy world of their own making. They have seen some images online….or they have devised some grand scheme in their mind….or they are living in the trance which an illicit relationship produces....and they are charging ahead in pursuit of their fantasy. It drives them. It energizes them. But if it is outside of God's will for their life, it is going no place good.
Fantasies are often fueled by the sinful desires which dwell within us as human beings. These desires are longing to be satisfied. The more that these desires take up residence in our heart, the harder it will be to say "No" to the fantasy and "Yes" to God's will.
Fantasy allows a person to escape to a make-believe reality. Your heart gets transported to a world which seems like it would be so satisfying. When this life isn't going quite the way we envisioned it going, we are tempted to escape to our fantasy world and indulge in thoughts about our dream. We assume that if only we could achieve our fantasy, we would experience fulfillment.
But not every dream is pleasing to the Lord. Not every dream is about something wholesome and noble. Sometimes our dreams and fantasies involve things that God says are forbidden. At that point, we must decide whether or not to continue in our dream world….or begin to fill our mind and heart once again with God's Word and God's will for our life.
Your mind and your heart will be energized by something and by someone….either by the Lord and things that please Him….or by your fantasy and things that are outside of His will for your life. Adam and Eve were content with what God had given them....until they allowed their hearts to consider the forbidden fruit. Once tempted with the idea, they began to assume they could get close to the fire of their fantasy without getting burned….but boy were they ever wrong.
You and I are wrong too whenever we make that dangerous mistake in our mind. When we think that we can find satisfaction outside of God's will, we are only kidding ourselves….and we are living in a dream world of our own making. We set up this "thing" in our mind as being the ultimate experience….and we think we must have it….even though deep down we know that our pursuit of it is only a waste of time, energy, and resources.
Fantasies can easily become addictive once we give into them. There are many kinds of addiction…and most of them will only lead us away from a close relationship with the Lord. Those things will only consume us with our perceived need to fulfill our fantasy and reach that "high." Any momentary "high" will soon be met with plenty of "lows" which are the byproduct of chasing a fantasy that is outside of God's will.
Sinful desires inside man prompts him to invest hundreds of hours chasing a dream that will at best only give him a few minutes of pleasure. Man soon becomes as addicted to the "chase" as to the few minutes of fleshly fulfillment. It quickly becomes an obsession....and one that can never bring man to a place of rest and inner joy.
The flesh drives us....while the Holy Spirit gently leads us. One approach involves man hustling after sin....while the other involves a peaceful walk with Christ who dwells in the heart of the believer through faith. Driven by the flesh....or gently led by the Spirit. Your life cannot travel down both roads. Those two paths are diametrically opposed to one another.
Are you chasing a fantasy which you know is not God's will for your life? What is it going to take for you to stop pursuing that thing which has heartache written all over it? Now is the time to say "goodbye" to your fantasy…and "hello" to God's will for life. Why live in deception any longer? When has that chase ever led you to a place of real peace and contentment?
God's will gets lived out in the moment…in the reality of the "now." Fantasy exists in the realm of the "later." We think that something is being offered to us which actually does not exist….it only exists in our mind….and in our dreams….but not in the real world…and certainly not in God's reality. Eve's fantasy in her mind was never fulfilled...but only imagined and dreamed about for a short time. That is the nature of a fantasy.
So then why do we continue to chase it? Simply put, we find ourselves compelled to chase it once we have made the choice to give into the initial temptation. It started out as a possibility…but now it is a pursuit. It went from temptation to compulsion. It went from free will to a state of being driven. Our free will at that point has become ensnared by the deceitfulness of sin, and we now have subjected our "will" to that insatiable drive to make this fantasy a reality in our life.
It didn't work for Adam and Eve….and it won't work any better for us. Any pursuit outside of God's will is doomed to fail….it is dead on arrival….but we just don't know it when we are living in a state of compulsion and in the mental region of "fantasy land." It's like our feet lift off the ground and we seem unable to bring them back down to earth….to that place of God's reality.
Peace is found in God and in His will….not in our sinful fantasies. You and I are not really any different than Adam and Eve in that sense. We have been placed in a garden…and offered spiritual riches in this life, and eternal riches in heaven that come only through faith in Christ. But there is another tree…and a serpent with some enticing words for us. Fantasies are often born out of listening to the wrong messengers or viewing the wrong images.
The solution? "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) The mission Jesus came to fulfill was not a fantasy....but rather, the greatest reality in the history of the universe. There is nothing more real than the cross where Jesus gave His life for your sins and mine.
Jesus came to earth and died on the cross as part of God's reality. He came to a bunch of people who were not pursuing Him, but instead, chasing their own dreams and wishes. He came here to restore order in the soul of man…for anyone who would surrender their fantasy life to the real world of His cross and resurrection. Many today have a fantasy of Jesus which involves Him not being the Savior of the world. Their fantasy will eventually come crashing down…either by spiritual conversion to Christianity…or by their own physical death…or by the Lord returning to earth before they die.
If you are ready to leave the virtual world of fantasy land, then I have some good news for you. Soul satisfaction is right around the corner…you may not have experienced it yet because you have been too busy with your fantasy, but that is all about to change if you are ready to be serious about God's reality.
So go ahead…step into His world…and His reality…and His grace…and just see what God can do when you stop trying to meet the needs of your soul and heart and mind with things that can never bring true satisfaction. Once you leave those things in your past and start to get addicted to Jesus and His Word, you will know the difference between "living by the Spirit" and "walking in the flesh." It's the difference between night and day.
And besides, what have your fantasies ever been able to deliver to you anyway? They have only provided big promises and sensational dreams…but little results. If you stop and think about it, you will probably admit that the "reality" of your fantasies has been very much like a mist that appears for awhile and then vanishes. The more you chase it…the more elusive it becomes. It's really just a ghost...an apparition of your own wild imagination.
Such is the life of one who chooses fantasy over God's will. It's a chasing after the wind...and we all know how hard it is to catch the wind.
I guess God really did know what He was talking about when He set those boundaries in place for Adam and Eve. It's almost like He designed men and women to only be satisfied when we do things according to His will. Hmm. And here I thought the whole universe revolved around me…or was that just another one of my fantasies?