Are you sad about something that happened in your past? Did you have a godly dream in mind that never came true? Do you still feel a bit of negative "energy" from your past?
For me, yes, yes, and yes.
And this is the main reason that I wrote about Job's daughters a few posts ago. I had that line "He gives and takes away" stuck in my mind from "Blessed Be Your Name." (Matt Redmon version). I did a quick Bible search to find it was Job who declared, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21).
Years ago I found myself in a place where I wanted God to give. I had a dream in my life for a "happily-ever-after." I set all my hopes on this godly dream I had envisioned.
I became a Christian after my divorce in 2001. It wasn't long after becoming a Christian that I knew God's will was for my marriage to be restored. He is, after all, the great Restorer and the "Repairer of Broken Walls" (Isa. 58:12). What on this earth is impossible for Him?
I prayed. I fasted. I held a dream for marital restoration like a gold collar around my neck that rested right over my heart. I set my hopes on this godly dream. I knew it was the very heart of God, as it involved acts of both divine and human forgiveness. I had no doubts. And I held on tightly to this dream... for year after year after year after year.
Both God's divine and His providential wills are mysteries. We may not understand why God gives and why He takes away, we may not understand His ways, His thoughts BUT along the way we are called to trust Him anyway, to bless Him anyway, to accept those things we cannot change anyway.
It seems that we are called to hope in God, not in godly dreams, not in godly desires and outcomes.
Well, sometimes this is easier said than done.
There is a beautiful stretch of 20 acres and a historic farm house built in 1850 in Franklin County that one of my sons and his wife have inherited.
Peace and tranquility hover over this place and reside in the open spaces as well as the more remote hidden sanctuaries and secret gardens.
There are pine trees galore in thick forests and open and rolling fields where cattle could roam. Birds flock to and deer gather in this wooded paradise. The two-story white house sits majestically on a slight hill way off the main road and demands your attention when you come to the clearing at the end of a long, graveled lane that is canopied by trees and tall wild bushes. Several out buildings with untold treasures sprinkle the back yard. Boy, did my kids have fun growing up there! They learned, laughed, cried, discovered, climbed, ran, worked and studied there. It was such a lovely place to raise a family.
This farm and all it represents (home, family, marriage, unity, strength, wholeness, self-sufficiency, living on the land, fresh air, simple living...) were intricately woven into the godly happily-ever-after I was chasing.
Just a few years ago, however, in my mind and heart it became a symbol to me of my own failure, of loss, of regret, and of deep sadness--a godly dream of restoration gone awry.
Needless to say, I knew I needed to change my view, to reframe the "farm," so to speak, because it is now my adult children's home! I visit this farm I once owned almost every week to help them renovate the house and grounds, and I come head to head with wave after wave of memories--a deluge of really delightful memories as well as a few more uncomfortable, not-so-wonderful memories. And the later type was starting to get the best of me.
Memories can suffocate us if we allow them to. The enemy of our soul counts on it! The good news is that I am no longer willing to let the past control my ability to breathe, to enjoy this rich blessing to my children.
I needed God's peace in my heart, a new perspective, a new picture frame in my mind's eye for the "farm." It has taken me a while, but I am learning to use my Truth trump cards to replace the, let's just say it - toxic thoughts - in my head.
We know that Job was righteous in God's eyes - although in the end of his story, it seems that God gave Job a pretty good mental workout with questions such as “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (38:4), and we know that ultimately Job repented for some attitude he was harboring in his heart.
In Job's life God gave
and God took away
and took away
and then He gave again.
Somehow Job never cursed God--he held to his passion to bless the name of God instead. Job's hope was in GOD, not in any GODLY DREAM he had pictured and idolized (ouch!). In their relationship, Job recognized that God was God and that he himself was not.
I, on the other hand, had so much riding on my godly dream, and since it wasn't coming to fruition, I did find myself "cursing" God and harboring a lot of resentment and distrust (I could easily have been Job's wife! - geesh!) I had placed all my bets on my dream, my way, my thoughts, my conclusions, my desires, my will--then because my dream was godly, I just knew God would comply with my wishes.
Unwittingly, I mistook my idolatry for strong, Christian faith.
Rico, where are you? I need a bit of Rico Relief! Of course. You are there, Rico--rummaging inside my closet trying to chew on my shoes and pull my clothes off their hangers. I know that darlin' guilty face!
Back to the point: How do we learn to trust God with no strings attached? How to we turn tragedies into triumphs?
How do we reframe our godly desires with desires for God alone? How do we really say and believe and put into practice, "Not my will, but yours be done, Lord"?
Have you ever had a godly dream that you can now recognize as a target for misplaced hope? I would love to know about your "farm" and how you reframed your thinking.
Stay tuned for a few answers I've discovered coming soon!
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