The Crash and Burn of a God-Sized Dream

It all started as a strategy for outreach. We sat around a table and began to dream out loud, trusting that the fire of shared passion and the wisdom of group process would yield creative ideas for communicating the love of Christ to our community.

I don’t mind confessing that I loved my dream. We would offer free oil changes to those in need: the poor, the elderly, single parents, come one, come all! Coffee and brownies would make the most of the waiting time as those of us less talented with a wrench would fill cups and keep the conversation flowing. We prepared colorful informational brochures about our church and its programs. We bought supplies, spread the word, and waited.

Not one person signed up.
Not one person called to inquire.

Rebounding from Disappointment

The spectacular crash and burn of my dream rang in my ears for a long time. In fact, it was all I could hear, and it was ages before my idea spigot found its way back to the on-position once again.

Reading through Jeremiah this year, I’m finding a soul mate in this life of perpetual rebound from disappointment. For 23 years, God’s Word came to Jeremiah. He rose early, and he burned the midnight oil. His words were the key note in a chorus of prophecy straight from the heart of God, urging Israel to back away from the abyss of their bad behavior.

They did not listen.
Yet, Jeremiah was persistent.

Looking back, there are plenty of reasons why my outreach brainstorm yielded not even a passing shower. In the nearly twenty years since, I’ve learned a lot about planning and about the unique ministry climate of my mid-coast Maine context. It was an idea that was doomed to fail before it even started, and yet . . .

Our story does not end with the death of one dream.

God’s new morning mercies jogged Jeremiah out of bed every day to share a message that burned like fire. Living in persistence requires showing up.

Our story does not end with the death of one dream.CLICK TO TWEET

Showing Up with Fresh Creative Energy

Our little band of believers has gone on to host dinners and day camps. We’ve caroled in December and picnicked in July, always inviting our community to the party.

Sometimes they come.
We have great conversations.
They hear the Truth about a loving God who spread His arms wide to embrace the world.

Sometimes, though, on event day, we sound like Jeremiah:
“You never listened or paid the slightest attention.” (Jeremiah 25:3-4)

For Jeremiah to show up every day for 23 years with fresh creative energy for each day’s attempt took supernatural strength. I want to persevere in that same strength.

It takes holy persistence to press into a task when all around you wafts the stench of failure.CLICK TO TWEET

It takes holy persistence to press into a task when all around you wafts the stench of failure.  Holley Gerth, author of You’re Made for a God-Sized Dreamreminds me, however, that “success isn’t about outcome; it’s about obedience.” When the God-sized dream that we launch like a bottle rocket crashes onto the rocks below, we start over.

Committing the dream to God, we begin again with all the enthusiasm of an encore: “Lord, this is for you!”
The curtain rises.
By faith, we begin again.




I look forward to hearing your thoughts (and maybe your shared experiences?) on the holy persistence that presses into a dream when all around you wafts the stench of failure.

 

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This post first appeared at God-sized Dreams.

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Making a Commitment to Blessing

The ping of a message changed my day: “Let’s take food to a friend who needs encouragement.

“Well, why not?” I asked myself, and began pondering the joyful outcome that always arises from random acts of blessing.

I’ve always wanted to be an extrovert — or at least an optimist.
Failing at both, I’m thankful to be a Christian, for when Scripture presides over any natural tendencies I may have to hunker down and spend my whole life “ordering my private world,” I get to move outside my comfort zone and to make a commitment to be a blessing to others.

Blessed to Be a Blessing

The first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a challenge I return to again and again with its strings of dependent clauses and its long stretches between end punctuation. I may not have it memorized Navigator-style, but this one thing I know from my stumbling repetitions as I walk these country hills on the business end of a St. Bernard’s leash:  God’s blessing (v. 3) and His choosing (v. 4), His acceptance (v. 6) and His redemption (v. 7) will result in an ultimate gathering (v. 10) of all believers and all things — in Him. 

Believers have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” so that we can be a blessing to others and add to the joy of that future gathering. Having been blessed, I am called to be a blessing.  Given that God, in His providential grace, has already heaped up blessing upon blessing, my church family has designated 2018 as our Year of Blessing. We’ll meet to feast and declare it to one another, we’ll invite others into the blessing, and, most of all, we want to be intentional about it.

Making a Commitment to Blessing

My friend who got the ball rolling with this most recent project is operating out of blessing-based thinking that I want to emulate:

Don’t Wait for a Reason

We’re used to showering people with food when they have a baby or if someone in the family is in the hospital, but what about someone who lives alone on a snowy day in January? If God brings someone to mind, there’s likely a reason for it that only He knows. How wonderful to be on God’s encouragement staff and to receive private memos from Him!

Overcome Obstacles

My Blessing Mentor/Friend offered to be the liason for food delivery. And if our target audience has a freezer that is too small to accommodate the blessing, she has room in her freezer and will take care of the overflow in the meantime.

If the project you have in mind is too big to do alone, ask for help. If you want to help, but don’t know what to do, make a friendly phone call or visit and be a good listener and observer.

Think Outside the Box

Recently, our women’s ministry experienced some setbacks in arranging the details for our Christmas project. Usually we bless a struggling family with children by purchasing gifts, but this year our contacts kept falling through, so we fell back, regrouped, and ended up blessing a recent widow with gifts and a visit for tea. She would never have come to mind if our business-as-usual plan had worked out, and in the process we were able to meet a need that others were not aware of.

Partner with Others in Your Community

There’s really no way we would have known that this is exam week at our local high school, but a para-church ministry in the area knew and invited us to contribute snacks for the teachers during this challenging week.

A couple of courageous women in our fellowship teach a Good News Club at one of the elementary schools in the area, and it’s our privilege to provide snacks for that and to be on call to pray or to help in other practical ways. (This week a call went out for paper towel rolls for a craft project!)

Intentional blessing puts the love of God on display in unusual ways. He wants to be known, feared, enjoyed, and praised because He is gracious to all people, and often believers wonder how to accomplish this, how to make Him known. Practical acts of love, homely blessings that communicate caring are a bridge between hearts, and allow us to extend the blessing we have received to others that they, too, may “enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

What practical ideas do you have for being a blessing to others in your church and community?
What has worked well for you in the past?
Please share in the comments below!

Image by Unsplash

 

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.