by Peggi Tustan

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

“What is your heart’s burning desire?” The question from my life-coaching homework stumps me. The longer I mull it over and come up empty, the more I despair. I feel like a non-person.  I have no dreams, passions, or hopes uniquely mine. Who am I, Lord? Who did you create me to be? 

I once dreamed. As a young woman, I desired to serve God in big ways. I stepped into one leadership role after another in the faith community. The trouble is I thrived on the accolades from ministering up-front in visible roles. In my thirties, as my relationship with Christ deepened, he revealed glimpses of my hearty ego. He gently pulled me back, out of the limelight. I was a young mother. He redirected my ministry towards home and family. I home educated my sons. I stopped dreaming. I adopted Mother Theresa’s words as my mantra: I can do no great things. I can only do small things with great love.

Years pass. My sons grow. “What will you do after they graduate?” friends ask.  I shrug my shoulders. I am afraid to dream. I don’t trust my ego. I stand in line, waiting on God to reveal my next assignment. 

During this season, our women’s ministry coordinator asks me to review Pathway to Purpose for Women by Katie Brazelton. “Yuck!” my gut says. The title sounds like a euphemism for “do great things for God.” Still, I read it for my friend.[1] Though I refused to enter the contest, I won the jackpot. God startles me, revealing a new life purpose. It suits me like a second skin. It simultaneously thrills and terrifies me! God wants me to write.

Dreams are often linked to God-given passions. My ten-year-old self is perched on the edge of my bed, notebook in hand. Ambitiously, I pen a few lines of my novel. Then, I go blank. I set down the notebook, afraid to pick it up. I lost confidence. Yet, writing remains in my DNA. I journal. I publish newsletters. I write Letters to the Editor. When a major event occurs, I process it on paper. I must capture a snapshot of my soul.  

God bestows unique desires, talents, and experiences on each of us. Thus, he prepares us to fulfill the purposes for which we were born. What excites you? What draws you? What claims your spare time or money? Sometimes, as in my case, a childhood dream serves as a clue. For many, God redeems our brokenness. A former inmate launches a prison ministry; a cancer-survivor forms a cancer support ministry; a woman traumatized by abortion counsels at a crisis pregnancy center. Still others are gifted with exceptional musical, athletic, academic, or artistic talents so obvious it’s impossible to miss God’s plan.

And yet, individual dreams fade beside their glorious purpose. God is calling you, me, and every person born home to himself. He can do it without us. However, he co-missions partners in this redemptive work. He chooses to reveal himself, his love, his saving grace through us. Writing is just one of many tools.

Who am I, Lord? Back to my homework, God answers more quickly than anticipated. Within the hour, I lay aside my homework and pick up a book by George MacDonald (1824-1905), Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. As I begin reading, I realize his writing helps me see God in surprisingly fresh ways and, thereby, love God more. That’s it! I found my heart’s burning desire—that my writing will help others see and love God more. I dare to believe God will do it through me. Since then, he’s inspired a new mantra: I can do nothing without God; but he can do anything through me.[2]

My heart’s burning desire is not to stand front-center, my name in neon, accomplishing grand works. It’s drawing so near to God I feel his heart, his love sets my heart ablaze, and convinces me nothing is impossible. I am intimately acquainted with my limits—time, money, energy, ability. God is limitless. He sweeps away every barrier. He does amazing, remarkable, impossible things—transforms hearts of stone—through us weak, small, least-likely ones. Through the brave who dare to dream with God. 

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you
the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.

–Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) American escaped slave and abolitionist, led seventy slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad 

What’s your heart’s burning desire?

Peggi Tustan is an ordinary woman living an extraordinary Real Life in Christ. I write, teach, speak, and mentor women in Northeast Ohio. Stop by and visit her at

[1] Far from yuck, I was so impacted by Pathway to Purpose for Women I used it to teach a class at church.

[2] I can do nothing without God (based on John 15:5 without me you can do nothing). But he can do anything through me (based on Luke 1:37 Nothing is impossible with God).

Cover photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash