When a Dream is Detoured

detour

When a dream doesn’t come true, it hurts. I should know. I just spent last week sulking and pouting over how much it hurt when my dream come true popped, sending my thoughts flying around in my face in a taunting sort of way. The worst part?

I was mad at God.

Did I have the right to be mad at Him? No. But am I a human being with bratty flesh wanting to get its way? Sure am. And when that toddler-style flesh of mine began to butt heads with the godly spirit inside of me, tugging me in different directions, that’s when the pain became excruciating.

Flesh: I can’t believe God failed me. I can’t believe He let me get hurt.

Spirit: God never fails. Trust Him.

Flesh: This is it. I can’t take any more of this. I’m just going to figure this out on my own and do it my way. Or maybe I’ll just quit.

Spirit: You know better than that. You’ve tried that before. Remember? God has a plan.

Flesh: I’m tired of waiting.

Spirit: Too bad. Look how long Abraham waited. How about the Israelites in the desert?

Flesh: I can’t take the pain of trying and failing over and over again.

Spirit: Who says you’re failing? God never told you that.

Flesh: I may as well get used to folding towels. That’s about all I’m going to do with my life.

Spirit: Now you’re just being ridiculous.

When we believe our dream come true is on this road just up ahead only to find ourselves crashing into a brick wall, a deep and dark discouragement creeps in like a cold shadow on a sunny day. And of course Satan watches from that shadow, waiting to pounce. And when he’s got you pinned to the ground, he will go for your jugular with one of his biggest lies: You don’t need God. That’s. One. Big. Fat. Lie.

My friend, if I’ve learned anything at all this week it’s this: Sometimes God’s plan hurts. But it isn’t meant to hurt us but to grow us, to increase our faith, and to show us another way. And quite possibly it is to prepare us for an even bigger, better plan. Thankfully His plan always includes an airbag.

An airbag? Seriously?

That’s right. If you get your sights set on a goal and you go after it with all you’ve got, speeding and missing God’s warning signs, He will provide an airbag to protect you when you crash into that brick wall.

What are His warning signs?

Stop Ahead: Be Still and Pray

Caution: Approaching Idol Worshipping

Danger: People on Pedestal Zone

Detour: God’s Way, Turn Here

Just this morning I crawled out of my “car,” brushed myself off, and when I looked back to see the wreckage and my pitiful attitude, I took one step from that mess and hit my knees. I thanked God for His protection. And I asked Him to forgive me for being mad at Him because He didn’t give me rocket fuel to propel me into my dream like I wanted. He didn’t work the impossible (which I know He can do) for my benefit. Hmmm. For my benefit?

That is precisely why God let me slam right into the brick wall, my face hitting the airbag. There’s no telling what was on the other side of that wall for me, but if I know my Heavenly Father (and I do), it’s probably much worse than a week of tears and a lonely pity party with a mess of soggy confetti lying around. Perhaps it was the very thing that would lead me away from Him and into the land of Pleasing-Myself where the My-Way trees and the It’s-All-About-Me bushes grow wildly while the Self-Reliant rapids rage.

Or perhaps He simply wanted to protect me, to keep my heart safe and secure with Him.  Now that is a detour worth following and a real dream come true.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT.)

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14 NIV.)

“‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’” (Psalm 91:14 NIV.)

 

When God says “No”

bubble

It’s hard when you’re a child and you’re told, “No.” You pout or maybe even throw a fit to get your way.

But what about when God says, “No” and no temper tantrum will change His mind? It can be downright devastating.  Especially when it involves an old dream you’ve been carrying in your heart for so long.

It’s like this dream of yours is so vivid and living in front of you in its own world; no one else can see it but you see it clearly. It’s like looking in at a snow globe and watching this tiny world moving and breathing before you.  It’s so real you know you can just reach out and touch it.

But when you do, you realize this dream isn’t inside a snow globe but a bubble. And as soon as you touch it, it pops.  It’s gone.  This vibrant world, the image of YOU inside this dream living and doing all those things you’ve wanted to do for so long, is gone.

So you learn the painful lesson that dreams are delicate, especially those closest to your heart.

And this one was so close to becoming reality that when you finally reached out with trembling hands…you destroyed it. Now all you have left is the memory of what you did wrong, how you reached out too quickly or too rough, and tears; lots and lots of tears that fall so freely, so violently.  You can’t hold them back and really you don’t want to.  They’re too painful to hold in and the moment so heart wrenching it scares you because you realize something:  You’re angry.

You’re angry at yourself for getting your hopes up. You’re angry for daydreaming about something that perhaps wasn’t even meant to be.  And then this anger creeps in deeper, burrowing into your heart and burning everything it touches, leaving black holes in your spirit, and you find yourself staring at the face of God in your anger.

This moment scares you the most. You don’t want to be mad at God, and you tell Him that.  But the anger lingers and you don’t know what to do with it. It’s too heavy, wearing you down, pulling you down, and you want to let go of it.  But something tickles your ear and reminds you of your pain and your mourning over something you never even had.

So your dream is gone, but all the daydreaming and possibilities remain to torture you. You try to look away, but you keep looking back.  You over analyze all you did, what you could have done better, what you shouldn’t have done at all.  There is even an inward crumbling and you wonder if you’ll ever recover.

It’s in that moment of internal collapse you realize how important this dream is to you. Maybe too important.  You start to ask yourself if you were putting it above God.  Your heart hurts all over again because you’re not sure if you can honestly answer “no” to that question.

But God answered, “No” to your dream. Or perhaps He whispered, “Not yet.”

You don’t know which one but you realize something even more crushing than not getting your way: You’re not the only one hurting in this.  You hurt God.

Were you looking at that snow globe of a dream and seeing His reflection as He stood over your shoulder? Or were you so focused in on seeing yourself inside that you forgot Him?

He was watching that dream even more closely than you. He’s the One who crafted every part of it to perfection because He loves you, not because He wants you to run away from Him to chase that world.  And when you eventually go into that world, in His timing and with His blessing, He wants you to take Him with you.

So where do you go from here?

Tell God you’re sorry you hurt Him, and ask Him to forgive you. And don’t be angry with Him.  He was simply protecting your relationship with Him.  No dream can ever compare to all you have with Him.

Ask Him to help you with those black spots in your spirit. Never hold on to anger or it will burn clear through you.

Ask God to help you see this dream clearly for what it is: A gift from Him to shine as the child He created you to be and to bring Him honor and glory.  (It only turned black and ugly and blew up in your face when it became an idol to you.)

And don’t ever gaze into that world again and forget to look for His reflection. If you do, you may find out it’s no world worth having at all but merely a bubble on the verge of popping.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”  (Exodus 20:4- 5a NLT.)

Heart Blessing

heart

I can think of a thousand blessings in my life, and I’m sure you can too.  But what about those that line up with the desires of your heart; those blessings God withholds until you’re ready for them, those that bring Him honor and glory and leave you in awe that you, little old you, got to be a part of something so grand?

This of course is different for each of us.  That sort of overwhelming blessing, I’ll call it a heart blessing, can be finding the spouse you’ve wanted to find for so very long.  Or it may be to hold your child in your arms, inspecting those delicate eyelashes as tears rush right through your own.  Perhaps it’s finding your purpose and standing right there in the middle of it all, you find yourself almost shrinking into yourself as you realize how important, how massive this moment is in your life.

Heart blessings.  The desires of your heart become living, breathing realities.

God gives us more than just one.

I mean, our hearts are full, if we allow them to be, and over time they grow-up like the rest of us and our desires change.

When I was little, I wanted a pony, to be an astronaut, and to be a belly dancer (this one still makes me shake my head and laugh, especially when I pair it with “astronaut”).  I wanted to be and do so many things, and as I look back, I thank God none of them happened.  If they had, I may have been too busy dancing in outer space with my space pony to find two enormous heart blessings God had for me:  my husband and our daughter.

And yet I find I’m nervous.  Is it too much to keep dreaming?  Too much to keep hoping for another desire to come to fruition?

It’s like I see this blessing I’m praying for as a firefly.  It’s so close, so very real and lighting up before my eyes, but I’m afraid to touch it or my clumsy hands might hurt it or crush it.  And once I get it, then what?  Will I know how to handle it?  Will I try to cram it into a mason jar and forget to take care of it, forget to poke holes in the lid?

That’s why I’m praying:  Something so close and embedded within my heart needs God.  He’s the One who can bring that delicate blessing right into my hand when it’s the right time.  And if He chooses not to, I’ll trust Him.  (He kept me from orbiting the earth with my tummy hanging out…why wouldn’t I trust Him?)

I smile as I think about the years I’ve chased thousands of “fireflies” and how I tried to grab them, jumping and reaching. Not yet, God must have whispered.  And so the little girl in me, with chubby cheeks and pouty face, probably fought to hold back the tears.  But I kept going outside.  I kept watching and waiting for God to tell me when.

And now that I’m a grown woman, I’m sitting outside with God in the cool of the evening watching those fireflies.  I’m enjoying just being in His presence, listening to Him whisper my name and laugh as I am still, and forever will be, the little girl who smiles at butterflies on my hand, deer coming close, and the way leaves sound when they applaud the wind.

I do hope for another heart blessing.  One that has been with me since I was eight years old.  But I’m learning there is another heart blessing that’s been a reality my entire life:  my Heavenly Father.  He loves me, knows me, and cares for me uniquely, powerfully, tenderly, and boldly.  And knowing Him is the truest, deepest heart blessing any of us could ever have.

Funny, we can have that blessing whenever we want it.  No chasing it down and trying to force it.  All we have to do is ask, and God is there.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NIV.)