God's Work in Shattered Dreams

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I’m trying to get papers filed. Trying being the optimum word. One of my best friends says, “The difference between trying and doing is actually getting something done.” I don’t think I quoted that exactly, but you get the idea.

I’ve gotten a lot done, but sometimes I feel like I just shuffle things around. Usually when I’m organizing, I feel like I’m just moving things from one floor or room of my house to another. I’m working on it, though. I really am.

So, I decided I was going to go through a bunch of boxes and get some order back. And I found a plastic box full of pages I’d ripped out of magazines—mostly Country Living. Pictures of rooms, furniture arrangements and anything else I loved. I think I’d planned on making a binder of my favorite things because I found page protectors in the box as well. (Sounds like a good project for one of my creative kids!)

Looking at all the pictures brought a smile to my face. I enjoy dreaming about, looking forward to and planning for the future, imagining wonderful things.

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Recently I was sharing with a friend how when I found out about my husband’s affair and knew the potential of him leaving, I imagined what our life would be like if we reconciled. I thought about how our relationship could be better than ever, how our love could be stronger, and how we could have a vital ministry to others who were struggling. When reconciliation didn’t happen, God refined my vision.

Now I look forward to what God is going to do in my life in a different way. I look forward to what God is going to do in the lives of my children. I have great hopes and dreams for us all!

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” —William Carey

I think it is part of the forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead.

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14, ESV).

What does God have for us? Whatever it is, God uses some interesting words to describe our journey to get it: pressing and straining.

Pressing. During my brief running career a few years ago, I recall at the beginning of my “training” (it is in quotes because I didn’t really train well; hence the brevity of my running career) I would run increasingly longer distances, but always the first mile or so was absolute torture and the final half-mile would seem like slogging through mud. During both of those times I’d have to keep my focus ahead and press with my whole body to move forward. It was a pressing of feet on pavement, a pressing of body into the momentum forward, a pressing of breath in and out, a pressing onward.

Straining. That one isn’t difficult to imagine—especially with my running analogy. There was always an element of straining—and panting, plodding, trudging and wooziness. I’m not a good runner (especially with the broken foot!).

In thinking about pressing and straining in my walking (or running) out my faith, I believe having a vision is helpful. When I have something to strive for, I do better. Although with running I don’t need a stop sign or a set tree to run to—in fact, I’d prefer not to have a visual because sometimes I just feel like I’ll never get there. But if I have a vision of the end, then I enjoy running more. I imagine how I’ll feel at the end, the sense of accomplishment, the joy of being done.

I think I might be a little bit like that in my spiritual life as well. I don’t need to actually see where I’m going. Hey! That sounds a little like faith!

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

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