Friday, October 02, 2009
Have you ever dreamed? Of course you have. Have you ever wondered if those dreams will come true? What happened? Did all your dreams come true?
When we are little we envision what we will be when we grow up. We see ourselves "saving the world", 'becoming president", "bringing peace to the world." All day we are playing out these dreams with our friends building straw castles, chasing dragons and being saved by our knight in shining armor. We conquer the world, we have all the answers (really, all we have to do is share everything) and "if I were president that is just what I would tell people they would have to do". We preach to the entire forest and they all get saved and love God. In that same forest we marry ,with the forest as a witness ,and we live happily ever after. We close our eyes at night, snuggle under the covers and slip into the dreams that all come true. You can't help but smile as you listen to the dreams that children have, so fun, so innocent and so very real. They never question how that might happen, it just will, and all is right in their world.
As we get older, life seems to slip reality into those dreams and they get lost. The hurts of this world, the bad decisions we have made, the hurts we have inflicted, can take a toll on those wide eyed dreams and turn them into bitter disappointments. We keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping we will find hope, and yet it seems to elude us. Our dreams seem to be gone and hope of new dreams seem lost. We could allow the different broken dreams to lead us into that place of darkness and desolation or we can release all our dreams and hand them over to God.
And for most of us, somewhere in that world wind of decision making, we did find Jesus and do just that. Hand it all to God. The darkness that had surrounded us for so long, the emptiness and solitude we felt in our hearts is finally filled with light and a real knowledge of the one who loves us more than we can even know and understand. He came to save us from that world. How precious is that and overwhelming that love can be.
What an awesome love that God bestows on us. Our heart changes , our desires seem to change, we have new dreams and hope bursts new. We start walking down that path that leads to our mountain and it is beautiful. Nothing can stand in our way. But then, something does happen. What happens first?
When God starts shining a light into your heart, it can really hurt. We might not recognize that the light is trying to shine at first. The situation seems so large and overwhelming. Maybe you married the man of your dreams to find that he is actually human. Maybe your not able to have children. Maybe you were college bound and got detoured because of a family crisis. Maybe some of your bad decisions had finally caught up with you and now instead of running you know you have to work them through. We run to the Bible and friends to get answers. We call our Pastor, our mentor, our Growth Group leaders, anyone that will listen. We want to do that right thing. We want to glorify God because we love him so much. But we are running so hard in other directions we neglect that true nature of the situation. Those circumstances, relationships, and hurts can be the catalyst to look at ourselves. To see inside our heart. I always say two things, "God is more interested in our character than our comfort" and "He loves us too much to leave us in the same place". Of course our first reaction is always to blame someone else or to look to someone else. We want to find the answer to fix the problem everywhere but inside us. That stubborn reaction happens all the time. But in reality, God wants us to look inside us first. To call into check our heart with him and with ourselves. Once we line up with him we can see our situation much more clearly. Yes, wise decisions are made in the wisdom of our mentors, pastors, teachers and Godly friends but, we first have the responsibility of taking it to God ourselves. Then seeking out help for the situation. Because sometimes trying to convey what is in your heart is hard. But if you take the time with God then He will help you articulate your problem so much better because His desire is for you to have the right answer.
I guess that forgiveness was God's first challenge for me. I had a very rough family life. On the outside it was beautiful, inside it was horrible. We called it the glass house. So I had a lot of trust issues. I had a lot of hurt and real pain. I had two parents that both had their abusive ways. I found that forgiveness was something I did not easily give or receive. I was running everywhere trying to find answers. I could justify my feelings and unforgiveness so easily. In a lot of my situations, from an earthly standpoint, I was justified in my feelings. You know, by earthly standards we can always justify. But when I finally exhausted everything else, I fell on my face at the alter and told God that I wanted and needed Peace. That peace that passes all understanding. I wanted to love Him and honor him in all my ways but it seemed that peace was eluding me on every corner. I was doing all the right things. I was at church every time the door opened. I was in the Bible everyday. I had all Christian friends now. I even worked at Chick-fil-A. Why could I not find the one new dream that I knew should be happening. Then even the final devastation, a friend at work looked at me one day and said, out of the blue, "Do you know there is no light in your eyes?". They just seem so cold and flat. How could that be? God, I love you. I am doing all the right things,. Of course I was. And now I had a new dream. I no longer wanted to save the world but I really wanted God to save me from myself.
Wow, I had no idea that forgiveness is what takes us to freedom and peace. I was racked in despair. I was running so fast that I finally, at that moment ran out of gas. When I ran out of gas, God could step in and show me the way. He was able to shine that light of His inside my heart and show me what was there. Because no longer was I able to do it, I had to allow Him to show me. He knew that I was seeking freedom. Freedom to trust, to love but most of all to forgive. There is such freedom in forgiveness. Does it happen all at once, no. Do you always feel it at first, no. And the list of forgiveness is so long at first. You start with the outside and work your way in. It might be a friend, then a sibling, then a parent…but eventually you get to yourself. Did you know that? Did you know that you have to forgive you? Remember those bad decisions, those hurts you inflicted? Now that you have the love of God inside you, you are the very first person you need to forgive. All else will fall into place.
I started there, and through the years have worked hard on that issue. You don't see everything at once. It is almost like an onion, you peel a layer off a bit at a time. I think God realizes we would be so overwhelmed we would never start. It takes years to work on the big stuff….now I keep short accounts. I want to fill my life with more joy and peace than anger and bitterness. So my accounts stay short and I lay it all at the Father's feet but honestly, it is not always the easiest task. At times I have been very hurt. I have had friends shatter my heart , people I love make decisions that have hurt people I love, Dean and I barely survived a church split and the biggest one, God. I have been upset with Him at times for all the pain and suffering I have seen my daughter, my Mom and some friends walk through. All those things leave their mark on you. So to say forgiveness is easy would be wrong. But to say that it is freeing and that God has so much more for you than the hurt and pain you feel is so true.
Take your time. Make sure you are right with God. And even if you forgive, the other person or the circumstance may not change. Know that….but know this! God will bring you through and you will have cleaned out a huge closet of stuff that was ready for the garbage can. And remember He loves us too much to leave us where we are and much more interested in our character than our comfort.
In His Grip,