Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Do you remember what you dreamed of being when you were a child? Do you recall what you thought your life would be like once you were all grown up?

I was a real daydreamer as kid and on into my teen years. I am an only child so I had lots of time to fantasize about what my life was going to be like when I was finally an adult, living on my own. In fact, I had such detailed daydreams that I would fall asleep in the midst of one and pick up right where I left off the next night!

I can remember seeing this house in a magazine, the House of Angles, it was called. I thought that was the most beautiful house in the world. I cut it out, houseplans and all....that was my dream house. And in my daydreams that is the house I lived in.

Did I ever build that house? Of course not. In fact, very little of what I dreamed actually ever materialized.

Our pastor began a series last week on marriage as part of a Wednesday night study. To make a point of how we all bring different expectations to our marriage, he had his wife to share what her dreams and expectations had been prior to marriage...what she thought marriage would be like. Then he shared his. Of course they were worlds apart. For the most part, their expectations did not become reality.

I think many of us get our ideas of what life will be like from the movies. No matter how difficult the pursuit, the guy always gets the girl in the end, and they live blissfully happy for the rest of their lives. If you think about it, most good movies end with a tender embrace or two people who have found each other at last, but it does not show the aftermath. The movie doesn't go on to show the hardships they face, the struggles they endure, the heartache they encounter along the way. That would sort of ruin the movie, wouldn't it? But that is exactly how life is.

I think we all strive for the "happily ever after", yet our great expectations usually fall far short. As I look around, I know of very few people who are not struggling in one way or another.

I began leading a new Bible study last week. As the ladies in my group introduced themselves, I asked each to share about a journey she had taken. Most did not tell stories of a favorite vacation, but rather a journey they were on in their personal lives. Journeys filled with health problems, broken marriages, the loss of a parent and financial crisises. I seriously doubt if a single one of them ever dreamed of those circumstances as young girls.

As I was thinking about this yesterday, I realized that our mistake is not that we dream, but that our dreams are about what WE want in life, not about what God wants for us. I can vaguely remember telling my kids they could be anything they wanted to be, but more than that I distinctly remember telling them that the most important thing in the world was for them to find what GOD wanted them to do with their life and follow Him.

I think what I want to tell my granddaughters is this: Give your dreams to God. Don't "pre-plan" how your life will be. God's plans for each of you is different. Be open to whatever He puts before you, realizing that it will include good times and bad, storms and rainbows.

I saw a TV show last night about a family who found they were about to give birth to a baby with Downs Syndrome. The dad was devastated and didn't want "damaged goods". Someone explained to him that his baby was a gift from God and each package comes wrapped differently.

Our lives are gifts from God, too. And each of them comes wrapped differently, with different instructions for the journey He has mapped out us personally.

We may have dreamed of a blissful life, but the reality is that life is hard. But, it is in the storms of life that we really connect with God, and we understand ultimately that it was never about US! When we received Christ as our Savior, we gave our lives to Him and along with our lives should have gone our expectations!

Eric and Leslie Ludy wrote a wonderful book, When God Writes Your Love Story. I highly recommend it to young people who are searching for their life's mate. But the premise of this book leads me to think of what our true mindset about life should be. We should hand God the pen of our lives...our total lives, not just our love lives.... and let Him write our story just the way He wants to do, understanding that HIS plans are best for us even as twisted and chaotic as they may sometimes be, because as HIS child, He desires nothing but the best for us.

Something beautiful
Something good
All my confusion
He understood
All I had to offer Him
Was brokenness and strife
But He made something
Beautiful of my life.
--Bill and Gloria Gaither

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


"Emotional fragility"....now there's a term that hit me squarely between the eyes if there ever was one!! Of all the polls and games on FACEBOOK that are meant to identify you, I have not seen a one that identified anyone as "emotionally fragile". Yet I can certainly relate to that term.

John Piper wrote "I have found in [my disappointments and discouragements] there is a great power of encouragement in keeping before me the life of men who surmounted great obstacles in obedience to God's call by the power of God's grace.

One of the pervasive marks of our time is emotionaly fragility. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily. We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition."

If Piper is correct, and I believe he is, then what sort of men went before us?

William Carey is a good example of what sort. Piper writes of him, "For his first two years in India, [he] got no mail. During his first seven years he got no converts. After nineteen years of hard labor a fire destroyed his precious manuscripts....and ten versions of the Bible. He had an accident and was lame to the end. He lost two wives to death...and he never went home...for 41 years!! So what kept Carey going? Incredible faith in the sovereign goodness of God.

When I left England my hope of conversion for India was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles it would die unless upheld by God. Well I have God and his word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I was deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith fixed on that sure Word would rise above all obstacles and overcome every trial. God's cause will triumph.

When he saw the smoldering fire that destroyed his work, with tear filled eyes he said, 'In one short evening the labors of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God....The Lord has laid me low that I may look more simply to Him."

Now there was a man who made no acquaintance with emotional fragility!

Lest you think, however, that there are no lionhearted saints still left, read on....

"A thirteen-year-old Nigerian Christian has told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) sources how she was forced to watch her pastor’s murder, and has also spoken of her four-day ordeal as a prisoner in the besieged compound of Islamist group, Boko Haram.

On 26 July, Mary was in church with her pastor, his brother and an older Christian woman when a group of fifty militants broke in. She and her pastor hid as the group killed the pastor’s brother and dragged the older woman out of the room. On discovering their hiding place, the militants cut off her pastor’s hand to stop him holding on to her, then hacked him to death with machetes before setting him on fire.

The girl and the woman were dragged to Boko Haram’s compound in Maiduguri’s Railway district, and were placed in a room with around 100 other Christian women and girls. They were all asked to renounce their faith or face continued imprisonment, while Christian men were given the choice of renouncing their faith or dying.

Mary vividly describes how she was forced to wash the blood stained clothing of Boko Haram fighters. She was in the camp for four days, but managed to escape with a few others when military forces intensified their attack on the compound.

Mary’s pastor was one of three Christian ministers targeted and killed by Boko Haram during last week’s violence. Photographs showing the corpse of one murdered pastor from the Church of Christ in Nigeria, Rev Sabo Yakubu, indicate that his heart may have been ripped out.

Stuart Windsor, CSW’s National Director said: “CSW is deeply saddened by the appalling nature of the crimes committed by this sect against innocent civilians. Local Christians have also expressed disappointment that some western media have disregarded the targeted nature of attacks on their community, and the brutal murders of Christian pastors. Unless this aspect of the violence is recognised by all and dealt with effectively, people in Northern Nigeria will continue to suffer because of their religious beliefs”.

As we stand on the precipice of the last days, will we be like William Carey and Mary, or will be the poster child for "emotional fragility"? Maybe it would behoove us to check ourselves to see if perhaps our diet is too full of "junk food" instead of feeding on the solid meat of the Word of God so that we can be workmen who need not to be ashamed.