Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
I wonder how many adults are really just children who grew up with the heart sickness of too many hopes deferred- too many of life’s disappointments? Do we eventually stop dreaming God-sized dreams and default instead to the more attainable, temporal man-sized dreams? It takes a lot of courage to actually name your hopes and dreams. Then it requires even more vulnerability to find out what fuels those dreams-if it’s worthy. Even further still, it takes a WILD heart to accept the call to walk by faith into the hallway of your God- sized dreams. And what happens when the path seems terrifying and nothing like what we’d imagined? Do we keep going or look for an alternate route? How do we respond when we have to decide if we’re going to be led by our fears or our faith in Jesus?
January of 2017:: God began to awaken some deeper desires in my own soul. As I wrote them out in my journal, I could see that they were hopes that could easily be disappointed. They were the top 10 of the deepest longings of my heart. They were of God-sized proportion and I felt naive and silly even listing them, but somehow I felt like it was something God was wanting me to do.
February of 2017:: My friend Alex and I flew to Houston, Texas to attend a conference geared toward women in their 20’s and 30’s. It was there that so many of those crazy paths of longing became further illuminated and the blazing flame of courage to walk those paths of faith toward whatever He had in store for my life were lit. God was up to something and Alex and I could both sense that it was bigger than what we could see. I’ll never forget the last session of the conference, one of the speakers read from Mark 10 where the blind man encountered Jesus and Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (vs. 51). To which the blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” and Jesus immediately healed him. We were then challenged with the question of our own desires: what would we answer if Jesus asked us the same question he asked the blind man? “What do you want me to do for you?” Immediately, my answer came in a prayer: Lord, I want YOU to fulfill all you have called me to on this earth. I want to see your glory here. And somehow in that moment of surrender I knew my world had shifted.
Little by little in the weeks following, God began to reveal the steps of His plan for both Alex and me and for our families. Sometimes they were intertwined and other times they were as distinct and different as the God given dreams He had placed within each of our own hearts. But the one thing they had in common was that they forced us to walk by faith in the face of our fears. We, along with our husbands, learned how to recognize the whispered soul invitations to step out in faith and say “yes” to the great adventures of God’s plan- even with butterflies in our stomachs and sweaty hands. We cheered each other on and pushed each other toward the glories on the other side of our fear. And I would say that each of our families began to taste a sampling of what it looks like to live in the throes of God-sized dreams. Small yeses gradually leading to bigger ones.
Almost exactly a year ago now, those God whispers began to culminate into an invitation to take one of the biggest steps of faith I’ve ever taken. And so the week of Spring Break 2017, Bart and I quieted our family’s schedule and made a committed effort to seek the will of God through prayer. I had certainly seen the beautiful fruit that came on the heels of the surrendered and scary yeses which I had offered to God thus far. I could retrace the path of His faithfulness over the past 2 decades of walking with Him and could see His goodness, even in the midst of the hard and terrifying; but was this really Him? Does this even make sense? I wrestled in prayer with my own human reasoning.
I recounted to God our 5 year and 20 year plan. I reminded Him of the sacrifices this would require of us. I made lists of my weaknesses and failures and told Him there must be someone else who was stronger and braver. And at every attempt to talk Him out of it, He would remind me of those God-sized dreams. He would remind me of my yearning to NOT waste my life. He would remind me of that prayer I had prayed in Houston when I asked HIM to fulfill whatever He has called me to on this earth…..of how He was always sufficient when I was clearly not….of how He calls His people to the very things that they think they can’t do. He would meet me there in prayer with reminders of how sweet the taste of His glory is….and how pleased He is when His people step off the predictable path of sight and into the surrender of walking paths illuminated only by faith. He reminded me of the cross of Jesus. He reminded me of all the multitude of ways that He has scandalously loved me and blessed me so far beyond anything I could ever earn or deserve. He began to replace my fear with the supernatural courage of Christ. He began to remind me that the road of Calvary led to His glory. And isn’t that exactly what I want most- to see His glory both in eternity and right here during my life on earth, right here in Carmi, Illinois?
And so, yet again, with butterflies still churning up a nervous stomach, sweaty palms surrendered to His greater yes, we leaned into the wonder of His mysterious plan and we began to take the first of many new leaps of faith. I could almost hear the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us with song:
“I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back.”
It’s been a year now since we said yes to the beautiful journey of adoption….a year that has changed us in precious ways I can barely articulate. And just like God has shown me over and over, He doesn’t reveal all the glories awaiting you until you step out in faith- they are treasures wrapped up for trembling hearts who step forward in spite of the fear. “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
These past 12 months have been wrought with continual whispered reminders to trust Him with this life of faith and the story that He is writing with our adoption and even beyond that–the One that is filled with God-sized dreams, carried crosses, and glorious rewards that exceed anything I could purchase with my very life. He rewards faith best with the gift of more of Himself….the true fulfillment of every person’s deepest hope and yearning. And so, though I have continually found myself to be weak and fearful along the journey, I can say with confidence that I have seen Him begin to answer that prayer I begged of Him back in Houston– Lord, fulfill your plans for my life! Do it, Lord Jesus! For you alone are worthy!
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ~