I think anyone who has lived any decent amount of life can truly and honestly say that life today looks much different than it did at one time, through the previously fresh, and hopeful eyes of perhaps, 15 years or so, ago. Graduating high school, rarely does one consider that they may over time, or even in one moment lose…..so much. And then what? Will you swim? Will you sink? Perhaps we felt content with the known…..like the safety of the backyard pool. Sure, there’s an ocean out there…..but one can still live cool and refreshed in the back yard pool never venturing into the wild, open waters. I do know that eventually, each one of us is faced with the ocean….and some of us learn to swim, only after we’ve sunk. And that takes courage, does it not? To feel the weight of gravity pulling us down….would it not be easier to give in to the pull, than to fight the force? Dying hope. Shackled dreams. Heartsick. Cooling embers. Ashes of once was. It would be easier to lay down the fight. Give in. Give up. But no, the fight rises. The determination begins to take over. The inability to let go of our hope surpasses the urge to sink beneath the weight. God certainly has a plan in all of this! He brings beauty out of ashes. As our hearts scream to Heaven, “Can these bones live???!!!??? O Lord, God…..only YOU know!!!!!” (Ezek. 37:3) The depths of our hearts somehow make their way in tears down our cheeks and in words that cry, “Our bones are dry, hope is lost….”(vs.11) And His gentle Voice whispers into our stormy hearts….”I will put My Spirit in you, and you SHALL live….” (vs.14). My heart will choose to say, “blessed be your Name, oh Lord.” I’ve been in this place. And not just once. I do think our trust and faith is tested in a very real and tangible way when we do not fight life, but allow ourselves to walk THROUGH the furnace. We can look the enemy of our souls in the face, with NO FEAR and FULL CONFIDENCE and say, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference…..” (Dan. 3:16-18) I have found myself repeatedly choosing joy, choosing peace, choosing patience in the middle of circumstances that would rob me of these precious gifts. I have no doubt this is a good place to be. I’ve heard all the one-liners: “bloom where your planted”, “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, “If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, water your own lawn”. This choice to make the best of what life hands you, is an amazing skill to have. It takes much grace and much strength to persevere through difficult circumstances.
But something happened in my heart the last couple of days that made me realize something. I realized that, while always choosing joy, and not allowing circumstances dictate my peace is a GOOD place to be,…..its still a place one could get stuck. So thats it. I feel stuck here. In this place of choosing joy, I feel stuck. I feel awed at this truth God is showing me. Never, ever have I considered the possibility that this is a state in which I could forever remain. So as I asked God to explain Himself….the pieces start falling into place. How could this place that requires so much leaning on God….be a bad place? So His answer came so softly and so gently that the truth and weight of the words may have been missed had I not been listening. I think He knew I needed the gentle break and not a jarring awakening. Thank you, Jesus for your heart that loves me enough to speak gently. The reason it can become a place where we remain stuck is that it focuses us in on here-and-now. He told me I’ve spent so many years navigating the road right in front of me….and actually doing it well. Learning lessons, asking Him to teach me the “right response”, give me wisdom that would apply, growing fruit, pruning when needed….all these things that truly do make us more like Jesus. But. Buuuuut. Yes, that word. Because God has more than just the here-and-now in His world. He’s been backward and forward and everywhere in between and all at the same time. He isn’t stuck in here-and-now, so why should I be? What happened to looking ahead? Looking forward? Hopes and dreams have a way of sinking into the background when we focus only on the next step. So what happened to my hopes and dreams? Oh I remember the feeling of having them. The anticipation. The expectancy that “one day” that thing will happen. The knowing that anything is possible because God is the One that makes those things happen. What happened? Where’d they go? What were they anyway? Its like Lucy said in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe……”it’s like a dream of a dream”. Well, a couple days ago….a beautiful, amazing, inspiring couple (Jessica and Justin Collins) handed out paper to a room full of teenagers and told them to write down their dreams. As I watched them get busy and get serious and get laughing and get creative…..I felt my spirit leap. This is amazing! This is incredible! This is fresh! This is hope at its best! The Holy Spirit moving over one and another and everyone all at the same time. So much courage in one room. The tears rolled. I felt like I was Paul in the book of Revelation as he was very present and yet seeing a vision unfolding around him. And then, of course, as they began sharing their dreams….whoah…..the spoken, powerful word inspired by God Himself….such power was released! We can speak human words and watch Heaven released. Its super incredible. Beyond understanding. Such a beautiful night….so full of God. Its what I live for. My heart sings. My soul soars.
And then it was like watching a movie and the DVD skips or freezes or halts. I hold in my hands the very sheet of paper that these kids were furiously scribbling over as if they couldn’t get the words down fast enough. And I couldn’t get one thing written down. One dream. One hope. Just one…..come on…..i know I have something…..right?!?! What in the world do I dream about?? I know I’ve written some goals….but thats more program related….not so much a personal dream. So what??? Wow. And then come the questions. What’s “safe” to dream? What can I dream for myself if my husband doesn’t have the same dream? What can I “do” or “be” without him?? What do I even want to do? Most of my grown-up life I “do” what God wants me to do whether I’m good at it or not. Kind of like a Moses-obedience thing. So this is kind of where I’m at right now. The last couple of days seeing the teens lock on to dreaming and hoping and expecting to see God do amazing things in and through them….it was so inspiring. I’m at this place now where I just have to pray and ask God “HOW” to start dreaming again. When I get an answer I’ll share it, for sure. I don’t want to stay stuck on everyday stuff….it has its own great value. But God has higher heights to look out over. And I’m in the mood to climb.