It takes courage to put a stake in the ground and define your dream. There is a lot at stake, and it is much easier to just leave things unsaid. Placing specifics around the who, the what, the why, and the how of your dream puts a person in a place where they could ultimately be disappointed or hurt. Dreaming is a bit of a double-edged sword. Part of dreaming is this safe, utopic-like time filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. The other side of dreaming involves a conscious self-realization which allows one to really specify what they believe God has put them here for. Both of these types of dreaming are valuable and required for the full life, which Jesus spoke about so many times in the Bible. Here in this article, I hope to put my stake in the ground. I hope to do what I would encourage each one of you to do, which is to dream with intentionality.
Back in 2008, I was working for Apple when a series of events unfolded, which became turning points in my life as a believer and my career as a Software Developer. In a six-month period of time, I learned I loved apps and wanted to work in this field. Second, I saw my church, Life.Church, release the Bible App, which would change the way many engage with the Bible forever. Third, I started down the path toward a career as a Mobile Developer. Looking back, it is easy to see, but walking through the events, I had no clue just how pivotal these events would become in my life.
My Love for Apps
Oh wow, it is 2008, and the iPhone is still a new piece of technology, Apple launched this app on the iPhone called the App Store, and I am awestruck by this combination of events. People of all kinds are seizing what is commonly referred to as the gold rush by publishing their apps to the App Store. I was determined to stay on top of all the latest and greatest apps in the App Store. Being the resident App expert at our store made my passion for great apps even more meaningful.
Life.Church Releases YouVersion
So here I was, enjoying the glory days of the App Store and the iPhone when my church, Life.Church releases the Bible as an app. Much like Bobby Gruenewald, I had longed to engage in the Bible in a more consistent way, but I had struggled to do so because I did not always have my Bible with me. With the release of the Bible App, I was now afforded the convenience that many could only dream about. The Bible was now with me everywhere I went. The App was gaining unbelievable traction in the App Store, and it was an exciting time to say the least.
The ease and accessibility of YouVersion were a wonderful convenience, but was not an overnight game-changer in terms of my daily walk with God. I would say my Bible engagement went way up, but it took some work on my part to engage with the Bible on a daily basis.
My Time at University
In 2011, I started down the road toward my dream of becoming a mobile developer by enrolling in the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University Online. In many ways, I believed this would give me the credibility to enter into a career as a mobile developer. At this point, working at YouVersion was only a nice, warm, and fuzzy type dream. It sounded like a wonderful, great idea, but the dream had no legs at this point in time. Over the next few years, Full Sail University would prove to be more of a hindrance to my career than the catalyst I first believed it to be.
Empty Promises and Misplaced Attempts at Validation
Toward the end of two years at FSO, the program drastically failed to deliver what it initially promised. My class of sixteen students was the inaugural class for the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University. Out of a total of sixteen students, I was one of four left in the program who would make it to the final academic year of the program. The other twelve had dropped out due to a university program that was severely lacking or for other personal reasons.
The staff and administration at the university were unwilling to listen or act on any input students were providing them regarding the new Mobile Development program I was attending. I was without any portfolio pieces to begin my career, and I now had a huge mountain of debt which was overwhelming. The promise of portfolio projects initially discussed when talking with staff did not exist. In the software world, we call these projects vaporware.
The program was no longer delivering the quality education the school had promised, and instead of graduation getting closer, it seemed farther away. I was spending an absurd amount of time each day on school, knowing these projects were useless when it came to future employers or clients. Fourteen-hour days back to back to back were commonplace. It got to the point where I could not hold down any sort of work due to the time commitment needed by the program. I was too far into the program to just back out. I owed well over $40K in FSO school loans.
Here I found myself at a crossroads of sorts. Do I keep going to school knowing it would do little to help me land work or pursue other avenues, such as building my own projects? I had several ideas in mind, but I had put these aside while I got what I initially thought was proper Applied Computer Science education. I was burning the candle at both ends, and I had little to show for the time or money invested with FSO. At this time, I had no intentions of working for anyone else. I had lost all hope of working for Life.Church, after applying to work for Life.Church many times without any potential leads. I wanted to build my own products and possibly take on independent contract work. This was my dream.
Recognizing Pivotal Moments
So here I was, my dream had effectively stalled. Instead of bringing me closer to my dream, I managed to put more obstacles between myself and my dream. Each of these events was a turning point in the pursuit of my dream or my Chazown. The realization of my vocation, watching on as YouVersion was released in the App Store, and my time at university, all pointed towards my Chazown. By taking time to look back at these now, it is easy to see God at work. I can also see God pointing me toward something I could not see at the time.
*Original photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash