Dreams Coming True
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
I’m feeling overwhelmed this morning. But it’s not what you might think.
Normally, when I feel overwhelmed it’s because I’ve lost some perspective. I have a to-do list a mile long and an overwhelming sense of angst over all that I must accomplish.
But today, I just feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
When I was younger, I really wanted to follow my dreams to happiness and abundant life. I am learning, with many years of struggling, that freedom comes when we let go of our dreams and give them to Jesus.
This past weekend, a dream came true. But if you had asked me seven years ago, the dream wasn’t even on my radar.
You see, my dreams changed when I stopped putting top priority on my own vision of what my life would look like and I started delighting more in God. I started thanking him for what he actually gave and asking for ways I could use what he provided.
I didn’t blog last week. I was literally running around, cleaning and preparing for a retreat at my house and I didn’t have time to process my internal thoughts much less efficiently process the physical clutter out of my home.
A few days later, I sat at a quiet coffee shop, looking out the window to the beautiful sunshine and surrounding snow-covered hills, and I paused to reflect on what God has done.
I wanted to write about the retreat over the weekend. But my laptop was being a grouchy dinosaur and as I was waiting for it to officially “wake up,” I picked up the notebook I had hastily grabbed that morning and flipped through a few pages. I found this note, made in the summer of 2017, just before we moved. I had made a list of what we would do if we had a large home in our new town.
1) Make Christ the head of our home
2) Use the space to invite people over for rest, encouragement, love
3) Prayerfully consider how we can use the space to praise God
4) Humble ourselves and serve one another and others
5) Encourage all who enter there”
I had also made a list for what we would do if we had a small home. Because at the time, the idea of having a home large enough to host others seemed improbable except by a miracle from God. In the small town we had come from, God had provided a five-bedroom home for us to share with others. We had shared it with out of town guests and exchange students and doing so made us feel alive. And yet, in moving, it seemed too good to be true that God would do that again. God knew the desire of my heart to use my home as a gift to others but maybe he had other plans for us?
I had a dream that I thought was from God but I had to lay it down.
During that season of waiting, God reminded me that the outcome was up to him, my job was to follow and obey. Through his Word, he strengthened me. The verse, “The LORD will fight for you; You need only be still.” Exodus 14:14 became my anthem as I waited.
It’s a long story, but God gave us a miracle home to share with others.
And six months after we moved to our new town, some friends and I gathered for our first women’s retreat. We had another one last August. And this past weekend, we hosted our third. Together, with friends, we planned, prepared talks, and prayed.
Brian and the kids packed up and went to my parent’s home. One of my friends came over and cleaned the bathrooms. Her kids helped too. Our exchange “daughter” from Taiwan and our exchange “niece” from Germany, cleaned and organized the kitchen. We laid out local apples, dark chocolate, and other personalized touches. I did more laundry than I have in months.
And then they came. Old friends from our old town. New friends from nearby. A godly woman with an amazing voice from California. A local friend came and led heartfelt worship with her guitar. Another friend catered a beautiful meal. Another friend brought flowers. Another brought gluten-free cupcakes. Another brought dish towels. Some stayed and helped clean before they left. We laughed, we danced, we cried, we praised and we prayed.
It was a weekend full of grace, love, rest and Jesus.
And as we wrapped up on Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but tear up. We had three girls from different countries there. None of them grew up in Christian homes. They are all on different faith journeys and a couple of them are admittedly not believers. But they loved being there. And I doubt they will ever forget what they experienced.
And friend, let me tell you, there was worship, and scripture and no watering down of anything.
Our retreat wasn’t what you would call, “seeker or skeptic friendly.”
It was just soaking with love.
As we closed, I heard my new friend, Ann, sing the most powerful rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” I have ever heard. I have heard the joyful sounds of my children laughing and felt the peaceful harmony of worship sung in my home, but I have never heard the walls echo with such a beautiful, powerful sound as they did when Ann started singing. There was no accompaniment, just her raw voice belting out truth and love to the Savior, “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow. And I know he watches me.”
And my eyes may have welled up with tears. Because God put a dream in my heart to use our home to glorify him and serve others and he’s graciously allowing that dream to come true.
But it’s even more than that.
These past few weeks, if I’m being honest, I’ve felt anxious about whether other dreams will ever come to fruition. I get impatient. Will I get to be a host mom/host aunt to more foreign exchange students next year? Will I ever be a published author? Will I ever get to speak at college campuses about the goodness of God? Will I get to travel the world telling about the faithfulness of our savior to people who haven’t heard before? Will all my children grow up to follow Jesus with their lives?
These are real dreams planted on my heart. And the more I follow Jesus, the more these dreams seem to grow. And I get excited and anxious because I want them to come true.
But you know what?
This weekend was a great reminder that God is in control. And truthfully, I want what he wants. I want his will for my life. I want him to be glorified. And he’ll show me what that looks like as I follow after him just one-step and one day at a time. It may not look like I imagine or dream. But I believe it will be better. Better in the sense that the fruit of my life will bring him honor and glory in the way he sees fit. He is good and I can trust him.
And friend, so can you.
On our soundtrack this weekend were a number of songs about just following Jesus. Here are some of the lyrics to one that really resonated with me, “Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns.
“Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the light when it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But Jesus is the only name to remember
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it’s said and done
‘Cause all that really mattered
Did I live the truth to the ones I love?
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever?”
Today, look for ways to love well.
Lay the dreams down.
And just see what he does with your willing heart.
It’s good stuff, girl. He’s doing good stuff.
The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.