He is not the God of the dead, but of the living…
When you have been through the fire and the storm like I have, there comes a point that it can feel like certain dreams are dead, buried and gone forever. Crushed to dust, burned to ashes. No hope of revival. Just living the rest of your life existing on the crumbs of what might have been but will never be; and trying to convince yourself that you are OK with it, when if you are truly honest with yourself and GOD, your heart is crying out for a second chance, longing from the deepest parts to do it right this time, to do it GOD’s way.
But it really seems like it will just never be; and so you soldier on trying to make good on the parts of life you can control or have some influence over improving and turn a good face to the world and pretend like it doesn’t matter, when it oh so very much does. But who wants pity and self-righteous advice about “getting over it” or Christianese platitudes about “waiting on GOD’s timing and plan” (even though this last is an obvious truth to anyone raised in the church as I was, it’s not always timely to say that to a person in emotional pain because it glosses over the validity of their feelings without actually providing any comfort or help) when you can’t control the choices of other people necessary to bring your dream to fruition and you don’t know how to stop the longing in your heart…or even if you should, because maybe it really is from GOD and the time just hasn’t come for fulfillment yet. That one tiny ember of hope keeps the dream from dying completely but it gets buried deep under the dust of deferred hopes that make the heart grow sick, as Proverbs says.
Maybe it is just me –although I suspect not. But walking out of the collateral damage of an unbeliever who chose not get help for serious safety issues and declined to live with a believer (1 Corinthians 7:15) any longer, put on hold a lot of dreams for a long time. It’s coming up on two years since I received the final dissolution and that part of the nightmare was over, nearly three since the beginning of the end; and at least 15 years before that praying, hoping and begging God for a Saul to Paul transformation that never happened. That kills or insulates a lot of places in the heart that forget how to feel properly because they are so busy protecting themselves.
But funny thing about GOD–He’s full of surprises. He can drop the forgotten or abandoned dream right in your lap when you least expect it and whisper in your ear, “Pay attention to this one.” And suddenly you’re reeling with alternate bouts of shock, joy, confusion, doubt, fear (that this isn’t just your imagination or too good to be true), anticipation, hope… Maybe, just maybe, our GOD of second chances, really is trusting me with a chance to do it right this time and I so don’t want to screw it up.
“At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,”
Says the Lord.
Because my GOD is the Resurrection and the Life and when dead dreams encounter the Lifegiver, they have a way of waking up and walking out of the grave like Lazarus. Although the fullness of fulfillment can still be an excruciating process that makes you doubt yourself and wonder if you really heard GOD say that or just made it up in your mind because of your own deeping longing and wishful thinking. I imagine this is how it was for Abram, waiting for the promise of Sarai’s baby to come true for all those years; or Joseph exiled from his family and his people in Egypt wondering if his youthful dreams were just dreams after all.
Yet how sweet it is when there comes a moment, that GOD’s reassurance and peace and love and comfort opens its arms and reaches out to receive you in a warm and welcoming strong embrace that says “You aren’t wrong. This IS happening. Trust Me.” If you’ve never had one of those God hug moments, I can’t describe it adequately. There is nothing in the world like it and I want to live in that place forever when it happens.
It’s easy for Christians to over-spiritualize struggles and camp on the fact that we will have troubles in this world (which, of course, is true). But some people make it seem like that’s all we can expect here on earth and that nothing will ever be good for us this side of heaven. This kind of thinking is no help at all in the middle of an excruciating waiting and shaping process. Nothing that marginalizes or invalidates someone’s legitimate feelings about their struggle is ever appropriate or helpful! It’s one thing to jar someone out of a pity party that is holding them back or just seeking attention rather than solutions; and something else entirely to dismiss all emotional content to the human struggles in life as irrelevant and in extreme cases, “evidence” of perceived ungodliness in someone’s life that bears no resemblance to the truth.
The goodness that awaits in heaven is, of course, far greater than anything we will find here on earth. Yet, Psalms promises that we don’t have to wait for the hereafter to experience good things from GOD. He loves me enough to give me a taste of what is to come, “in the land of the living.”
I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD!
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord!
I just have to remember to be patient while He finishes working out the details that are not up to me.
Hold me close and teach me patience to wait while You shape my promise to perfection before final delivery. You know very well how intensely I feel about this promise and how above and beyond all expectations I can already see it to be, fueling my passion to move forward. So help me to exercise self-control through You in me and wait on Your timing and trust that I will see this goodness poured out “in the land of the living.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12