It Felt Like…
Losing the Dream
Have you ever felt like your dream was lost? As if it had died? When a dream dies, it feels like part of you has had the lights turned off. A veil of darkness falls as part of you feels like it is dying along with the dream. Right now, things may seem pretty hopeless. You might be facing the death of a business due to the pandemic. Your husband or wife might have lost their job and it feels like you have no control over what is happening.
It feels like the dream for your family, your business, is lost and your life’s purpose is lost along with your dream.
The first time I ever felt like my dream was about to be lost was when we moved to Burundi from Zaire in 1991. We had only been missionaries for barely 4 years and were preparing to plant our first church. We were dreamers! The dream kept us alive, it gave us purpose. We had heard many horror stories of people working in that small nation, stories of loss and hardship. In our youthful, and naive, zeal we packed our young son and baby daughter on a plane and flew to this strange, new land. Surely because God had called us, we would ride the wave of victory from start to finish.
Little did we know that the dream, that was just a dream at that time, would be threatened with death even before it began.
It Seemed Straightforward
Initially, the task seemed straightforward: register the church with the government, secure work visas, and off we go. We quickly learned that was not the way things worked in Burundi; many months went by without any progress. In fact, it seemed as if we were moving backwards.
Jamie (my husband) became very sick, we nearly had to fly him to the USA for treatment. I clearly remember one afternoon during that time as I was driving to see Jamie at the hospital telling God, “If I leave Africa like this, I am never coming back.” I left him one morning and went to make plane reservations to return Stateside. When I left, he was so sick that he couldn’t even eat. I returned a few hours later and found him sitting up in bed eating a banana. The doctor, a missionary himself, could not explain the sudden turn medically. He simply said, “God had better things in mind.”
When Jamie recovered, we were told that the law of the land prohibited new churches from being registered. Our short-term visas were soon to expire and time was running out. We had no one to turn to and we felt discouragement fill our hearts. It looked like we were going to lose the dream, it felt like we were losing the dream. My unspoken worry was we would leave the country with our tails between our legs, failing.
… it felt like the dream was dying before it even had a chance to live.
Testing The Dream
Psalm 105:19 NLT “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.”
This was our dream: doing missions work in Africa, planting churches and faith-based community outreaches. It was our passion and goal, we just didn’t understand at that time that the tests we faced along the way served to pave the road before us. We had a few questions that we had to answer before the dream could became real:
How badly did we want to see the dream fulfilled?
How hard were we willing to fight for the dream?
How long were we willing to wait to see it come to pass?
How hard were we willing to work for the dream?
It soon became apparent that the dream was not going to come true like a Cinderella fairy tale. The time came when our naïveté was turned into determination. We decided if this was what we were called to, then this was what we would fight for.
After 9 long months of waiting, after countless denials and discouragements, the day came when our phone rang and on the other side of the line a voice spoke and said, “Come collect your church’s certificate of registration. You are allowed to operate in the country now.”
It felt like we had come alive!
It Was “Bare Knuckles”
Isaiah 43:13b NIV “When I act, who can reverse it?”
When God gives us a dream, the only thing that can come in between our dream and its fulfillment is how we answer during the test. What we learned in Burundi in that first year of “bare knuckles” faith was that the stress was His to bear and not ours. If the dream came from Him, then He would take care of fulfilling it. Would that we could keep that lesson in the forefront of our minds always, for the testing of the dream never ends.
The Valley Of Decision
Joel 3:14 NLT “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”
The valley of decision is the place where we decide what our responses will be to the test. It is also there in that valley that our relationships with God can grow. It’s easy to say “thank you” for a blessing, it’s not so easy to say “thank you” in a trial. All of us prefer to coast along, free from opposition.
But we don’t grow in plenty as we do in famine.
I’ll never wish to pass through a time like I did in 1991/1992 when we first met with what felt like the death of our dream. I hope that the tests that come will spare me from the pain I felt during those days. At the same time, there isn’t enough money to pay for the lessons I learned.
Come what may, and I’m sure things will come, my decision is clear. It may feel like something is dying, but I know if I can just stay strong in that moment, my Lord will “soon arrive.”
Worth Dying For
If you haven’t found anything worth dying for, then you have nothing to live for.Unknown
These days it is hard to find people who are willing to die for what God has called them to do. Social pressures and our own life-goals keep us from daring to go live the “bare knuckles” life of faith. It’s not socially acceptable to risk everything with little natural assurance of a return on investment.
People play the stock market, invest in gold, buy property, all with the hope of “getting ahead.” If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that nothing we invest in in this lifetime is certain. In 24 hours our lives can turn in directions we had never imagined.
Who ever thought in October 2019 than 1 year later we would have endured nearly 9 months of global pandemic and shutdown? Who ever thought that millions would get sick, hundreds of thousands dying? Who would have thought that countless small businesses would go bankrupt?
The Dream Works For Others
Nothing in this life is certain but everything can work together.
Romans 8:28 NLT “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
One of the most important things a dream does is not for us, but what it can do for others. God never puts a dream in our hearts that won’t spill out and reach others with His love. When the dream God puts in you resurrects another’s dream that has died, you have passed the test.
The Test Never Ends, Neither Does The Dream
You may feel like the dream has died. You may feel like the test is too hard. There might even be some truth to those sentiments. The forgotten deciding factor in this is the fact that the One giving us the test specializing in raising the dead to life. It is what He is known for.
Romans 6:13 NLT “…give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.
The dream is real, the dream is good and the dream is worth it all.