Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dare to hope...

I've been thinking a lot lately about hopes and dreams... I have hopes. I have dreams. Sometimes I say them out loud... I say, "I dream of one day being able to climb all the 14-ers in Colorado!" or I say, "I hope to make an impact for God's kingdom till the day I die." And while those are good dreams and hopes those are not my deepest heart's hopes and dreams.

My college pastor, once spoke on a passage from 2 Kings 4 (beginning verse 8). It is the story of the Shunnamite woman who takes in Elisha and gives him a room in her home whenever he passes through town. Elisha is touched by this kind act and asks the woman, "You have gone to all this trouble for us. What can be done for you?" And the woman replies that she is fine with a home among her own people.

This sounds decent except the woman has a secret wish, she has a deep desire to have a child of her own. So why doesn't she say this? She's obviously spent time with Elisha and knew he was able to do so much through the Lord... and if someone asked you, "Anything you desire, anything I can do for you, what do you dream for?" Would you say, "Oh, I'm fine like this!" Except this woman's reply runs so closely to my own. There are deep dreams and wishes I pray for and think of often. But it is hard for me to say them out loud...

However, the servant replies for her, "She has no son, and her husband is old." So Elisha calls forth the woman and says, "About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms." YIPEE!! ...yet, not her reaction. The Shunnamite's reaction is almost horror... "No, my lord. Don't mislead your servant, O man of God." I imagine her thinking two things. First, "Who told?" and second, "Don't hope for it!"

Yet, if she were like me, even deeper her heart would be thinking, "Oh, yes please!" I don't know if this is how it is with men... but I know for myself, as a woman, I like to think I am "keeping secrets". I like to keep my deepest desires and hopes to myself. For in MY mind I think, "If I don't wish for them or say them out loud... I can't be disappointed."

Yet, God has already given me these desires and has already seen them. It is no surprise to Him. So do I cling to these or do I open my heart of hearts to Him who created me so that I can truly be known. There is risk in letting out your hopes and dreams... the story of the Shunnamite doesn't end with her having a son. Her son grows and when he is a boy, he dies. The woman comes to Elisha and asks, "Didn't I tell you not to stir up my hope?" But Elisha is able to perform a miracle and restore her son. A moment to decide, do I love the Lord or do I love His gifts?

For me, my hopes and desires are just the toppings on a sundae (bare with me). My salvation and where God has led me (to Japan for Him? Whoa!) are already more than I deserve. I desire Him most of all. But those other things, that whisper to me, those are still there. I must decide. Am I going to ask for such things and hope and dream of something big like "a son" or will I just settle for the scraps of life, which are "safer"? It is true that asking for something your heart totally longs for puts you in a position where you allow God to give you what is best. If you say it out loud and don't necessarily receive it, will you be disappointed or will you confidently see that the Lord is all that can ever satisfy us?!

I want to be bold in my prayers. I want all of God and I want God to have all of me. If I say my dreams out loud... if I bare my soul before the Lord (who already knows it) I want to know that He alone fills me and satisfies my heart.

Wow, just some thoughts for today as I dream and pray for my life... and for the people here.


JoPappa said...

Almost anyone, when asked "Anything you desire, anything I can do for you, what do you dream for?" can say, "Oh, I'm fine like this!"

This woman is obviously more interested in others than herself. As that kind of person, she is not so straightforward to “say right out what it is that she wants”. She would be a poor contemporary American consumer … but a typical Colonial American. A disappearing breed.

Is it your weakness saying, "If I don't wish for them or say them out loud ... I can't be disappointed" – or is it your strength saying, “I do not trust my desires to myself; but I cannot see why this desire is here now, my Lord; so I am troubled by it.”

I am beginning to think that we have no desires except God gives them. Our great challenge is to see them for what they really are, and what He intends for us by giving them to us.

Think of that famous quote of G.K. Chesterton, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”.

A man knocking on the door of a brothel might be the very last man on earth to say that he is there looking for God. And he would be the most surprised man on the face of the earth if God were indeed to open the door at his knock.

And yet, we all know that what Chesterton says is true: the man is looking for relational intimacy, the reciprocity of love, the ecstatic experience of desire and fulfillment bringing into life the promise and possibilities of life for another, of birthing life … of being a life-giver.

Decry the discomfort of desire, deny your desires and you might be a good Buddhist, but you cannot be a real Christian. ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem; how often I would gather you in my arms as a hen gathers her chicks…but you would not!’

In Jesus Christ we do not find a man who is removed from His feelings and passions. ‘I earnestly desire to eat this meal with you.’ I passionately want to give you my body, my blood, my self, for you to share with the world and all the worlds to come.

Desire is not the problem in life. The problem is what we will settle to ‘have now’ regardless of that to which the desire points. Desire for marriage, for children, for wealth, for ‘a place’, for life … are these wrong? They cannot be wrong, since they will all be eternally realized. God will have us married in His Son, His Family, A Kingdom and in His Presence, forever.

Take desire as it comes, and find in it the Promise of fullness in the Life To Come. But it is sickness to take it for our self in this life regardless that it is emblematic of what it will One Day be. Hold every desire for Him, and find every desire in life true and never, ever lost.

Kelli B said...

Wow. I love these words. It brought tears to my eyes. How often I let my desires sit idle inside me, or cast them away and pretend there are others to be had. I want to give God my desires, and ASK BIG, and watch and be amazed as He performs mighty works in my days. God is able, and you both have reminded me.

Thank you for being real.

Joanna Kay said...

Whoa Dad! You should seriously use your blog more... or maybe you can "guest lecture" on mine. And I mean lecture in a professoral way and not the way I meant it as a grumbling child. Your words are comforting to my soul. Thanks for encouraging a Christian sister's heart to believe that anything in the Lord is possible.

JoPappa said...

(To be added to my comments on 'desire' ... )

...If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.

We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis; 'The Weight of Glory'