We all have been given promises, and we all have hopes and dreams. We long for that moment we will see them fulfilled and for that moment we will feel like we are finally doing what we were created to do. That is all well and good, but what do we do when our dreams are still in the works? There is hard work in dreams and a lot of that is holding onto hope.
There are times when dreams appear to be shipwrecked. They are dashed on the rocks of disappointment (cliché, I know, but I like the imagery) and we do not know if we can ever rise from that. We are faced with a choice in those moments—we can let go of the last bit of hope we have and float out aimlessly into the stormy sea, or we can hold onto hope like a stranded sailor holds onto driftwood and slowly make our way to shore. The pathway to our dreams never looks like we imagine it would. It can look like island hopping until we reach the Promised Land or it can look like a switchback road through a mountain range.
I am finding life, and dreams for that matter, looks much more like a choose-your-adventure book than a straight path. To go to London proceed to page 50. To learn about family proceed to page 110. Recently, I have been looking back at the mental photobook of my adventures thus far. Each path includes snapshots of random adventures and stories I never thought I could be a part of. It has also taken a lot longer than I think it should. Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the time he was my age. What have I done?
Growing up I heard the stories of the great men and women in the Bible and in history. For some reason pastors and speakers thought it was encouraging to tell us about the people who accomplished great things by the time they were our age. I was told of the great battles Jonathan won when he was fifteen. I learned with slight horror and shock about Mary’s age when she became the mother of Jesus. How could I ever live up to these people? I used to think I peaked in my teens. I have greatness written on my heart yet the greatest thing I have done this far is, well, I do not have an answer for that. I have accomplishments I am proud of but what about great accomplishments? I have never been in a battle much less won one. I have not conquered the known world, though I am working on that. I am not a ninja, though I would count myself as one in training.
I have an epic dream and that means there is an epic story. Epic stories always start with ordinary men destined for greatness, mainly because they are the protagonist of the story. The author chose them to be great. As a writer I get to control the way the story moves and can slow down or speed up a story for the sake of character or plot development. For some reason I often forget God does the same thing. He is the great Author after all.
My roommate Emily often has incredibly profound encouragement for me in the moments I am on the verge of letting go of my driftwood hope. The other day I was grieved at my current place in life’s story and was angry at things that happened in the past and completely unsure of what the future had in store. In other words, I was long overdue for a meltdown. Her response was beautiful: “Courage in battle means not running away. It is planting your feet and standing your ground. Courage in pain means not making assumptions about your identity, who God is or what your future looks like. It means sticking your feet down and not going anywhere.”
Our identity does not change even though our circumstances can be a kaleidoscope of fun—ever rotating, constantly changing yet the same substance. Our identity remains the same but our function within that circumstance changes. It looks different from the previous season. In one season we learn what it is to be a son and in another we learn what it is to be a warrior and yet another what it is to rest. We are still sons and warriors when we rest and still warriors and resters as sons. We are just acting out of a different function depending on the season. As we grow we learn how to go deeper into that and learn new facets and new moves but we still act out of that core identity as a son.
My perspective changes as I realize it is about learning new ways of interacting with God and not about me surviving a circumstance in order to make it to the holy grail of dreams. With all that being said, I want to leave you with a few questions. What is God’s perspective on your circumstances/ dream? What is God teaching you about interacting with Him in this season? What is the reason behind your dream? Why are you holding on? Remember and keep pushing through.