In my dream last night, I was climbing.
It took all the strength I had just to hang on. I was sweating. Trying to catch my breath, my fingers curled, knuckles white. I panted as I reached higher, as my legs pushed frantically on falling footholds.
I wasn't just climbing any old rock. I was climbing an almost vertical mountain of sand.
It's funny to me how the brain works sometimes, especially in dreams. We work so hard in real life to organize our reality, to analyze our thoughts, to put everything in neat, labeled baskets. But dreams defy our attempts to categorize. They often reflect the chaos lurking on the inside - all the loose ends that refuse to be tied up. The insecurities, the fears, the desires, the frustrations all lurk in the deep recesses of our brains, like elusive animals only willing to emerge in the darkness of the night.
The funny part about this dream I had was how other people on the sand mountain had somehow climbed right past me. There were those who had reached the summit with ease, while I struggled to keep hanging on. Each time I reached up, my hand slid right back down, and every inch of progress made was an inch lost as the sliding sands gave way. In the dream, every muscle fiber strained to make progress, to move forward, and every ounce of strength was returned null and void as I seemingly went nowhere.
But I just kept trying anyway.
Watching others reach dreams and goals that I treasure in my own heart has been hard for me. I often cry out to God for relief - for the opportunity to have what other people have - people who defy God and don't care to follow him but are blessed anyway. In fact, just this past week I found out that an especially ungodly man I know was blessed with a second child. He has it all - career, family, health, house, hobbies, friends, education, even a dog. And I wonder why it's been so easy for him to scale the obstacles of life in direct defiance of God.
Last night at church, Pastor Rick challenged us with whether we are like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son - you know, the guy who gets ticked that his rebellious brother gets blessed? He's not usually the focus of the story, but his dissatisfaction hit home for me. Am I the one who faithfully tries to serve God hoping I'll get what I want out of him, rather than delighting in being with him? Do I resent it when God blesses other people with things that I long for? Is my goal to please God only so that he'll make my path easier? Obviously, life does not work like that, and I have to reconsider whether this monumental struggle I'm facing might just be a tool to humble me, to test my heart, and to find out why I am really following God after all.
Is God just a means to get MY dreams? Is he just a way to get strength to fulfill MY desires? Do I trust that he wants what is best for me? These are questions I must answer.
This month I plan to read a book called "Shattered Dreams" by Larry Crabb.
On the back, it says:
"Shattered drams," writes Dr. Larry Crabb, "are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream."
As I keep climbing and sliding back down, I hope to learn more about why God has me here and the best way to respond to this mountain of sand that he's placed in my path.
Out Of My Hands
All my restless heart could do is cry
I stepped on out into the night
The tides turned again and nothing felt right
I searched for truth I sought your light
and all my restless heart could do is cry
Everything I held is out of my hands
Everything you bless is not what I’d planned
Not what I’d seen, not what I’d dreamed
My heart's hope will rise and fall with the wind
A gentle breeze will blow me over again
I’m walking unstable
And all the things I held
Were dragging my heart so far down
And the things I’d dreamed were nothing,
Nothing as they’d seemed
And then I question you
And doubt you as the God I know
But all over again, you saved me from myself