We stepped off of the plane into 100% humidity in the pitch black of Halloween night in West Africa. Nothing could have prepared us for the uncertainty of our first few weeks living in the dank upstairs room of the long term worker’s house. We wondered if we would ever make it to our intended destination. We were stuck without transportation, or knowledge of where we were going for that matter, and saddled with a project working on the roof of the house we were staying in.
This was anything but what we envisioned when we were selling off our crockpot and winter clothes to pick up and move across the sea.
It wasn’t what we envisioned, but it might have been what we prayed for. Here’s the catch in all of this overseas work- we pray, commit, and GO! We are sent and we think we know what that looks like because we lisped prayers of “Here AM I! Send me!” It has to look like teaching in a native school with uniformed children on time and eager to learn. It’s supposed to look like ease in learning the local language. It absolutely looks like planting a fully functioning native body of believers before our term is over. It’s bound to be deep connection with our teammates who have the same ministry goals as our own. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!
This is the stuff of letters home and financial stability. Until it’s not and our lives overseas look more like an episode of The Walking Dead. As in everybody’s watching and it’s kind of gross.
In recent months as we’ve added our third baby into our already full life I’ve more and more thought of the dreams I had and how I thought my life would look by this point. I confess the busyness that defers our dreams, the hopes still unfulfilled, the not now portions of life can wear me around the edges.
When I cast a glance behind me at prayers spoken in earnest I find them to be much more broad then perhaps the ideals I set out in my head. Can you relate? It’s no wonder we find ourselves with different realities then we would have hoped or guessed. We prayed for God to “use us” claiming “Here I am!” and guess what? He did. He is. It simply looks nothing like we thought it would.
I have an allergic reaction to cliches, but at risk of sounding so, I won’t in order to make a bold assertion. Perhaps His intent for us is not so much to check all the boxes of our imagined lives, but to live out something Divine with implications for our interior life to be holier on the other side. Ministry that honors God, in any form, really isn’t if it is something we have created in our image.
My thirty-four year old self is in many ways the stuff of my nineteen year old self’s nightmares. Thankfully God is good to change our dreams and help us embrace the life He has given us. I am thirty-four and standing on a precipice overlooking the rest of my life wondering, “Where do I go from here?”
What I am realizing is deeper dreams have sprouted in the upturned soil of my soil. Dreams which were off radar when I stepped off a plane onto African dirt nearly a decade ago. These new dreams are growing from places in my spirit that simply didn’t exist ten years ago. Without failure, disillusionment and struggle these dreams might never have started. My point isn’t to stop dreaming. Instead hold your dreams loosely seeing them as a conduit for God to round sharp edges, mold a hard heart and ultimately do with you more than you could have imagined.
What dreams have you had to let go of? How is God growing a new thing in your spirit?