Have you ever stood there in the deepest place of your heart and called the dreams God would have you to dream utter foolishness?
Maybe you’re better than me. Maybe you don’t doubt. Maybe you can embrace all he calls to you. I’ve dreamed and I’ve chased dreams with boldness and enthusiastic fervor. I’ve lost my dream more than once and felt left with nothing, least of all understanding or compassion from others. I’ve stood in the barren places trying to make sense of what’s happened. And God calls me to let him strip the callous cynicism that has wrapped around my heart as a pretense of protection that really only shields me from the tender massage of God’s love.
God calls me to trust his goodness over my experience.
I remember worshiping heartily in loving abandonment at a beautiful, praising church. The leaders urged us to dream with the Lord and I began to dream what I considered lavish, extravagant dreams. I felt the Lord capture me by the tails of my envisioned garment as my mind’s eye was soaring upward in elaborate, sweeping imaginations. He confronted me at the very core of my deepest desires. He brought me to the edge of an internal chasm where I had tossed away long-ago hopes and desires.
God dared me to dream truly dangerous dreams that had nothing to do with far off nations or evangelistic endeavors that could win me acclaim and honor. He asked me to dream again for the things I gave up on; to come back to the dreams I considered dead and allow him to breathe his life into them again.
A lesson in dreaming.
I think of the Shunamite woman who declared she had no need when Elisha asked how he could repay her kindness to him. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant gave insight to the question of what they could do for her.
2 Kings 4:14-17 NLT
Later, Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?”
Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.”
“Call her back again.” Elisha told him. When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!”
“No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.”
But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. And at that time the following year she had a son, just as Elisha had said.
Several versions translate it as “Don’t lie to me.” Don’t you lie to me – don’t you dare give me hope that I can ill afford.
Some things seem too costly to care for, to long for, to nurture hope for. Desires so profound, that to allow ourselves to desire them feels it will break us and we think in self-preservation we must cast them aside to be able to bear daily life.
Sometimes I must give these desires to the Lord to hold til I feel the strength to carry them in my own heart. There is an area I have felt him consistently beckoning to my heart to have courage to hope in. A place he seems to keep sending tidbits of hope and encouragement through words of people who do not even necessarily know what they speak of.
One point where I again felt disheartened and ready to lay those dreams down, I felt the Lord asking me to keep holding on. A friend and pastor, unaware of the conversation I’d had with God, shared that he felt there was an area I wanted to give up in that he felt the Lord wanted to give me and to not quit hoping. These are sometimes almost intangible wisps and bits and I think I must be imagining all of this. Since then I have had dreams and other signs regarding this thing.
I first felt hope resurrected in this area some years ago when a pastor broached the topic. But here it is, many years later and the desire not yet fulfilled. I come to Jesus and say, “Weren’t you the one who told me to reconsider this dream? Why did you ask me not to pass so quickly on this thing? Why did you say to me it was better to hope for this thing that I have yet to hold?”
I’ve heard women speaking out about a promise God made to them, to their lives, and they are holding on eight years, ten years, twelve years past the promise made, ever more in conviction. And I confess that I have been offended in moments by their passionate profession of confidence. I confess that I have been angered, and scorned them as foolish, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN CONVICTED BY THEIR FAITH when my own faith has felt too fragile.
I have to guard myself from things that would weaken me. I have to recognize my vulnerability especially before going on social media where the everyday lives of ordinary people can seem far more extraordinary than mine.
I have to come against the temptation to not rejoice for people who have received their miracle, who are living out the answer to their prayer while I still stay in a pattern of holding; while I still wait. I am not always strong enough to view their happy pictures of answered prayers and feel joy for them. But I make myself declare gratitude for their victory as an act of rebellion against lurking bitterness. Me too, I whisper.
Let me rest in a holding pattern of hope. I declare my soul anchored to hope even when it all seems a wisp of a cloud. That’s what Elijah held onto – just a wisp of a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, just a puff of smoke that became a victory deluge. I declare it despite not feeling it. That is sometimes the definition of faith, is it not? To declare it true, before we feel it or believe it yet, just to declare it true because truth isn’t found in our feelings.
There’s a sound of rain. I believe God is calling us to hope again. I feel him asking us to allow this groundswell of dreams to rise up within, these desires not born merely of selfish intent. I think God is saying, hold on to hope because it is a hope God would give to us, it is a desire he desires to give us.
I feel that so many of us are like the Shunamite woman, it seems far too painful to allow the seed of hope to swell inside us to grow the dream, to hold the child, to see the dream of many decades fulfilled in our heart, in our arms, in our lives. But I hear his urging, don’t let go of hope, hold on. It’s coming yet. Hold onto hope. Dare to hope. We will not be disappointed when we pour our hope into our God who is a stalwart bulwark.