Wednesday, October 3, 2007

DREAMIN' -- September 15, 2007

“I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:10-12

Surely you remember the Disney movie, “The Swiss Family Robinson,” about a family shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island in the South Seas. The father and two oldest sons, Fritz (James MacArthur) and Ernst (Tommy Kirk) built the tree house-of-every-child’s-dreams out of the local natural resources and whatever they could salvage from the shipwreck. As a child, I loved that tree house and lolled away many an hour imagining myself as Bertie/Roberta (Janet Munro), the “cabin boy,” who Fritz and Ernst rescued out of the clutches of pirates. Ah, the adventure! Oh, to have James MacArthur and Tommy Kirk fancy me!

Besides the appeal of the adventure and love story, this movie offered me a model of how to cope with crisis. Here was an average family, like mine, who proved strong, creative, and resilient in the face of great adversity. Granted, this was a rather unrealistic rendition of reality, but it nurtured a tiny seedling of hope in my own resiliency, should I ever be shipwrecked—literally or figuratively.

As Red Cross Volunteer in Louisiana, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was astounded by the resilience I witnessed in the evacuees in my shelter. I’ve been thinking a great deal about the people I met there because it’s been exactly two years this week since I set foot in Louisiana as a Red Cross mental health counselor.

Along with the massive material loss and uprooting, I think about the dreams that were swept away by the violent winds and rising waters of Katrina. Dreams dashed into millions of pieces and scattered about, all mixed up with the wreckage of other demolished dreams.
Last Sunday, Pastor Jim Lyon challenged the members of Madison Park Church of God to be open to the dreams God has for us. Our dreams are small in comparison to God’s dreams: “God-dreams often take us to places we have not imagined or call us to face challenges that, at first blush, are easier to pass by. Be prepared to receive a dream you may not fully understand or comprehend. It is likely that a dream received will be fulfilled in ways you cannot foresee. God's dreams often are ‘over the top’ and way outside our comfort zones.” Whoa! Talk about adventure!

I don’t know about you, but my dreams do not include obstacles and pain. But when I look at Biblical accounts of God’s big dreams for, say, Abraham, Joseph, or Mary, I see long, drawn out journeys fraught with blood, sweat, and tears, discouragement and despair. “No thanks, Lord! I’m gonna pass on this one!”

Of course, even if I seemingly play it safe and opt out of God’s dream, there’s no guarantee that life will be smooth sailing. In fact, if there were a lifetime guarantee, it would be that life will be hard at times, and not just hard, but HARD! Hmmm… Maybe it would be more prudent to accept God’s dream for me rather than face the inevitable obstacles and challenges of life all by lonesome on a path poorly chosen. Hmmm…

God is the epitome of patience. While I “hmmm…” and haw around as to whether to accept God’s dream for my life; while I pitter-patter around picking up the pieces of my tattered dreams, attempting to fit them together this way and that—until I’m ready to pull my hair out, God leisurely taps a tune with his fingers and hums pleasantly under his breath, as if he has all the time in the world (or eternity) to wait on me. Eventually, I’ll give up in exasperation and cry, “OKAY, you win! I’ll try it your way”—while adding the caveat, “but if I don’t see some signs of success soon, I’ll…”

Hmmm… Do I really want to settle for a make-shift lean-to (I’m a disaster with a hammer and saw!) when I could dwell in God’s love story in a super-fantastic-out-of-this-world-too-good-to-be-true tree house on an idyllic isle? What would you do?

Sweet dreams!

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