Purposes Greater Than Our Own – Welcoming 2019

2019 comes to us fresh and alive with possibility! Darrel and I will set aside time this week, as we always have, to share our personal and shared goals. You may have set some kind of goals too (or have dreams in your heart you have not yet given voice to). If you are like me, we articulate our goals with anticipation and hope for something different in the days and months ahead. Like rebooting our computer, there is something enlivening about wiping away the old (and that which is not working) and getting a “re-start.” This anticipation and hope somehow gives us, not only the vision to embark on a new path but the courage to take the risks that will be needed along the way. We become seekers again with hearts that are awake to new possibilities even when they come in the unlikeliest of places.

I am excited for the goals I have written and what they represent; my dreams, hopes, and intentions for living in ways I most want to live. There is a pause, however, as I write them down.

While I endeavor to shape a life of my dreams, I do so with open hands, for I am aware that I have invited to live into a greater story than my own. The grand narrative of Scripture is the story of God who invites us into a story that is already being played out. Think of Abraham, Moses, David, Gideon, Paul, and Mary and all the other characters of Scripture. God shows up and their lives move in an unexpected direction. This seems to be the reoccurring theme throughout Scripture; God is doing something far greater than we could imagine and he invites us into it.

This often comes by way as we give attention of the desire and dreams he has already placed in us.

I was reading the story of David this week and the engaging dialogue between him and the prophet Nathan recorded in 2 Samuel 7.

God put in David’s heart the desire to build God a temple. Nathan assures David, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Sam. 7:3)

“But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? …I took you from the pasture…and appointed you…I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth….And I will provide a place for my people Israel…The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:4,5,8,9,10,11,16

David had a dream from (and for) God. God was in on it! Yet, as so often happens, the dreams God gives us don’t always play out in ways as we had thought. (Our first inclination is to assume there’s been a mistake or we somehow got overlooked. Everything in us wants to take charge and make something, anything, happen. Unfortunately, we don’t often recognize or anticipate there is a different, a better, story being written.) Notice in these verses all the ways God had graciously initiated and intervened in David’s life that were not of his choosing or ability to being them about. It’s amazing! David wanted to do something for God, and God wanted to so something in and through David…that ended up being for the sake of others. Of such is the Kingdom!

Unfortunately, we don’t often recognize or anticipate there is a different, better, story being written.

God’s ways in our lives are works of grace in bringing about God’s far greater purposes than anything we could construct on our own. But be careful. The dreams God has placed in us are not “out there” waiting for us to grab them. Neither do they serve to feed our egos. Our dreams are played out everyday in ordinary ways when we surrender ourselves to that moment, rather than holding out for something more spectacular.

All that to say, I am holding my dreams loosely, anticipating they may take me somewhere I did not expect, but may ultimately allow me to participate in God’s purposes for my life. For us, to live I such a way will require we learn what it means to embrace a God whose ways are higher than our ways; who loves us deeply; and invites us to work and walk with him. Only then will we then learn to trust that he knows what he is doing and will fearlessly join him on an adventure filled with messiness, joy and hardship, beauty. Like David, God invites us to abandon what we thought our dreams should look like and trust that something will happen in us that is far beyond our imaginations.

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