Updated: Mar 31
As I drive to the airport in the mornings all along the highway, I see so much construction of what appears to be new restaurants, stores, and homes. All of these structures are unfinished, but they all started as a dream in the mind of someone. Some architect dreamed of a new future with new possibilities for that particular area where the structure is emerging. However, no structure, organization, or mission exists today that did not first begin as a dream in someone's mind. For a building to become a reality, it requires first. a commitment to begin the work. It requires the courage to step out and take a risk to build. It requires a commitment to see it through to the end.
Our lives are so much more complex than any building, or business or any other entity. The work of constructing the life God has given us, also beings with a dream. From scripture we learn that God's desire for creation is a future in which, we live in hope. "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, NRSV). You may ask, if God's desire for us is our welfare, or as Webster defines it ,"health, happiness, and fortunes" then why is there so much pain, hatred, and destruction in the world? Well, read the scripture again. "God's desire for us is our welfare and not harm." God's desire and longing for all of creation is to live fully into who we have been created to become.
There is no promises of health, happiness and fortune as a guarantee if we do good works, or we pray more than others, or we do anything to get some imagined and deserved reward. The journey of faith is not a transactional endeavor. We may think that if we do all the right things, God will somehow reward us for it. Faith is not like driving around the parking lot of Walmart seeking the best parking space and then, believing if you pray hard enough, you will get that front row spot closest to the door. Faith is not a prayer vending machine into which, if we put in the right amount of prayer coins, or mission trip dollars, or church attendance coupons, we can expectantly receive the perfect tasty holy snacks of which, we think we deserve.
Faithful living into God's desire for our lives begins with releasing what we think we deserve, and trusting that God will show us the true longing of our lives, so we might live perfectly in service to others. If we strive to become our best selves loving God and loving others, we become the creature God made us to be. We can then take our part in the narrative of salvation history. We all have a larger role in this world beyond being mere consumers and living life for our own edification. We are made to love God and love neighbor, and through that beautiful caring, giving, and loving creature we become, we take a part in God's plan. "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."
You may ask though, "what about my heart's desire and where does my dream fit into God's desire for me?" Some might think it selfish to have a dream or to want, to do, to be, or to have? I would say, "I disagree." Scripture tells us, "The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps." (Proverbs 16:9, NRSV). I believe, that each one of us has a dream that has been planted in our hearts by God. I believe that we are perfectly made by God to fulfill a purpose in this life, and to live fully into who we have been created to become. If we are ever able to realize that dream, bring that dream into reality, and then live that dream, we may have found the purpose of our lives. I believe that then, we are given the grace to transform for good, the lives of so many others. If we pass on the gift of grace given each of us, we become partners with God in fulfilling God's desire for all of creation.
In the last two years, so many people have entered my life unexpectedly, and through their love, encouragement, mentoring, and commitment, I began to see clearly the dream God placed on my heart so many years ago. As that dream re-emerged, my life has been transformed. I have a level of joy now that I have not experienced in decades. I believe it is because I am in some way again, beginning to fulfill my purpose. However, I have not arrived yet, and my work of love and service is not complete. I believe there is more to come regarding this dream God placed on my heart, and that future has not yet been revealed. I merely say each day, "I am in process." For now, I can say that I again live in the place I love; Florida. I am finally (after several decades) living my lifelong dream working as a professional pilot. My beloved Terri's health and outlook on life is glowing and improving. I am at peace now with who I am, and who I have become. But thanks be to God, God is not done with me yet.This gift of life given to us by God is amazing, but it is not meant to be lived for ourselves alone. We must pass on grace and mercy and love and transformation onto others. We are not mere consumers of grace, called to hold onto it as if it was meant only for ourselves.
So, my hope in the coming years is to take each opportunity given me, and encourage others, mentor others, and help others who like me have a God-given dream but lacked the courage to chase it. "The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps." Our direction and the steps the Lord directs is simple; love God and love others. Lord, let us be instruments of your peace. Lord let us fulfill our purpose as grace bearers and grace sharers. Lord, in some small way, I pray I might become another humble encourager, who like so many folks before me (Terri, Evelyn, Mike, Beth, Paul, Charlie, Joe, Maggie, Michael, and so many more) saw in me gifts and talents that I never saw in myself.