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rest

Faith

When Dreams Become Our Identity

July 24, 2014

There can be a danger to dreaming. If we’re not careful, what we hope for becomes what we rightfully await. And when a dream shifts to a right, then we’re in trouble. Because there, in that place, expectations get built around what was always meant by grace. To be gifted.

Dreaming with God is about soaring high above the confines of the world, feeling the air of freedom as we hope and believe for that which the world tells us cannot and will not. But overhead the chaotic chatter of doubt and defeat, we find wind for our wings as we tap into His dreams over our lives.

To dream with God is to fly. And oh, how we are meant to soar high.

Dreams come because of who He is and who He sees us to be. They are prophetic gifts of grace. They arrive by way of Heaven’s voice leaning down and whispering deep into our soul’s ears, “You see that way up there where it’s impossibly high? That’s exactly where I want to take you.

But if we’re not careful, we can hear those words, dream those dreams, and meld them into our identity as if part of us, a place they were never meant to occupy. Dreams affirm who we are, speaking to our identity in God, but never are they to validate us. They aren’t created to complete or satisfy, no matter our subconscious efforts to prove otherwise.

When our dreams become our identity, the once found freedom in hoping for what’s ahead becomes a weighted demand for our performance, image, and success. What was freeing now becomes suffocating. We feel the dream’s impossibility not as exhilarating and an opportunity for God to do what man never could, but as terrifying – our hearts racing from fear it will never happen unless we push harder.

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So we grip tighter and cling with every bit of ourselves to those dreams. They no longer feel as gifts, but rights and demands upon our lives. We don’t wait in anticipation; we advance in panic.

The longer those dreams keep from manifesting, the more despair, discontent, and anxiety we have over all that isn’t in our lives. We look at our today and cry out in frustration over what is missing. Our dreams become the measuring stick for the present, our eyes so focused on getting to that place that today is never enough.

This isn’t what life is supposed to look like, we cry. And today becomes all but lost by our unmoving picture of how it’s all supposed to look. We are no longer attached to the Giver, but to the gifted dream itself. And here, we are wholly unaligned and out of sorts.

Our own efforts to seek to earn what has been gifted is one of the most exhausting, unending, never satisfying pursuits to life. Because we will never obtain what cannot be won.

The truth is that the more we push, the less anything moves. God waits for us to rest back into who we are in Him, while we press on out of need to validate, leaving ourselves tirelessly undone by the demands. But the rhythm of our lives doesn’t have to be centered on our efforts to press harder to perform better to become more.

The freedom of our dreams is always found in His rest and breath. When we sit deep again into our identity seat as His – as known, whispered to, fought for, and believed in – we find His spirit of life which exhales upon what was slain by our own sword.

The impossibilities of our dreams are meant to be our inheritance, but the road forward is marked by intimacy. When we find our identity tangled in our dreams, it’s time to hear His whisper, inhale deep His breath, and settle back into God’s restful presence.

I will put breath in you, and you will come to life…and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.’” [Ezekiel 37]

Faith

Revelation in Waiting’s Storm

June 26, 2014

So there’s this story, one of my very favorites, where Jesus heads out on the water with His people. Before they hop in the boat, He tells them where they’re heading. “To the other side,” He says. And then they leave, crammed together on a wooden boat with the winds whipping at their faces and their eyes looking ahead to their destination across the water.

Their process from here to there didn’t seem messy, hard or scary. The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake, and not a big one at that. I’m pretty sure it all seemed fairly straightforward.

But then the storm hit…in the middle of their journey…throwing an unfortunate spin on their rather easy trip across the lake. The wind was harsh, the rain was crazy hard, and the water was rising in such a way that they were scared this could be the end of them.

In the entrance of this unexpected storm – a very purposed one – that which was an easy here-to-there trip became a chaotic, swirling mess of a ride. And in the middle of it all, Jesus slept as the men went mad. He rested; they defaulted to fear, panic, and defeat.

For many of us, this looks a lot like the waiting journey towards our dreams. At first it may seem easy and straightforward, but soon the entrance of the unexpected and unknown cause all sorts of emotions, fears, and obstacles.

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Photo Credit: Daniel R. Thompson

When storms approach, we easily start looking for the first way out, judging our safety and comfort as more important than our development and progress. So we try to flee, running away at the first obstacle or whiplash from the swirling winds.

Yet the place where those men found themselves that night wasn’t meant to finish them; it was meant to change them. That storm was a chance for revelation in their lives, for them to catch hold of something not previously caught. For them, it was to understand the authority possible through them as they followed the One who was peacefully resting despite spinning circumstances.

It wasn’t time for them to hide or retreat. It was time for them to stay and rest.

Because revelation is gifted when we rest in the middle of waiting’s storm. When the destination of our dreams becomes clouded by howling winds and threatening circumstances, there appears for us a chance to catch fresh revelation that changes the core of us.  The storm becomes the teacher from a God who longs for the information that we know by our minds to become deeply planted in our hearts. And thus, to change the default of our lives by upgrading us out of fear, rejection, and fleeing into settled, rested, confident stances.

For in the swirl of the storm is found the revelation of God’s presence.

The unexpected storms in the middle of the process aren’t meant to negate the word of where we’re heading. Instead, they’re purposed to make our arrival possible by offering us what the easy and straightforward road could never provide. To turn away in the middle of the storm’s swirl is to turn away from the gift of fresh revelation that’s to be as bread for our journey ahead.

Instead of the waiting’s storm being the tortuous place where we are so quick to pray for exit from, it may in fact be the place of grace where we catch and receive the revelation needed for what’s on that other side. As we wait, stay, and rest.

Faith

Taking Back Tomorrow’s Promises

May 15, 2014

Today I woke up feeling like a plate lady. The balance of life with all these different components I’m trying to keep atop makes me feel like a woman straight out of the circus with seven plates being spun above her head. The audience is leaned forward sure one will fall and she will collapse to the ground in a roar of shattering noises after the plates smash into tiny pieces. I feel for that lady in the circus ring. Plate twirling is no easy business.

My current season feels like a similar balancing act of marriage, work, health, school, dreams, and more. I often feel overwhelmed by the demands of today that I find myself deciding that if I can just survive today, tomorrow I will thrive.

I think it’s my hopeful nature that keeps me believing for tomorrow’s green grass of goodness. And yet, in the midst of that, I inadvertently find myself negating the possibilities for today. These days I can be so quick to decide today doesn’t have room for things, that tomorrow will carry my hope.

You may be doing the same if it always comes back to tomorrow. Instead of giving today your presence, tomorrow becomes when you will rest, breathe, live, or accomplish. And so, you neglect today out of this false idea that tomorrow will allow the space to expel life’s anxious air and inhale grace’s presence.

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So tomorrow becomes this picture of false and never-met promises. And today remains about survival.

On a day like today, feeling overwhelmed by my spinning plates, I wonder if I have painted tomorrow’s fate by deciding today does not have time for my dreams, my rest, and my wonder. Maybe I have strangled life from today by only hoping for tomorrow. And it’s made me realize something important:

It’s time to take back tomorrow’s promises.

It’s easy to complain about waiting for God in certain areas of our lives, often feeling the long enduring as tortuous or unfair. And yet, at the same time, we easily withhold from ourselves that which does not have to be waited upon. In fact, I wonder if maybe waiting wouldn’t feel as tortuous to us if we didn’t tack on to its pile all that is actually for us today.

I mean things like rest. It’s easy to narrow it down to a concept of time and space, planning for that far off day when there will be time to do nothing and simply rest. But in doing that, we take what is a promise for today – in this moment – and tag it as a rarely-experienced wish for sometime in the future. And now, what was offered as a promise becomes reduced to a mere wish.

Or what about grace? What would it look like if we offered grace to ourselves today versus purposefully punishing ourselves through days or months ahead before we partake of what is on the table for us. How much fuller, freer, and joyful would today be in an instance?

The truth is, Heaven longs to deposit that which is accessible today right into our midst.

And we can actually reap dreams, health, or rest today if we stop putting them as stock on the shelves of tomorrow.

So the question is, could you inhale deep what is gifted and created for you, and receive what God promised for you today?

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