When Dreams Die
How do you handle it when you watch your dreams catch on fire in front of you and burn in a glorious mess right when they were all coming together after years of closed doors, prayers, and planning? That feeling is where we are now. We are crushed.
For weeks, we have been hiding from the general public the most wonderful secret.
When a ministry situation became very unsafe for our family rapidly last November, we had to leave our tiny rental home and move into a temporary situation an hour away from our church. We are so blessed to have this retreat. It has benefitted our family by giving us a safe place to be where we could pay off medical bills as they came in more quickly than normal. It is literally one of the most beautiful places on earth. I have so many good things to say about where we are now.
Yet, there’s this angst that grows in our hearts each and every day. While our current situation is very good for our family financially, the strain of living away from where we are called to minister has only grown. We have a strong calling to do life and ministry in Gautier. That hasn’t changed for the past 9 years no matter what hardships and grief ministry has born. We love our city with all of its brokenness. We want to see Jesus transform Gautier and bring hope to the hopeless, healing to the hurting, and life to the dead.
Living away from our center of ministry has been much more difficult than I could have imagined.
We have been doing our best to prayerfully seek God’s face in this strange season of our life. We cannot deny God’s leading to move our family to a place of safety, yet we still have a burning desire to make Redemption Square our home. Church planting and my medical history have complicated those desires with adult responsibilities that we are doing our best to face wisely. We have tried to amend those responsibilities with “gazelle intensity” as Dave Ramsey would say. Murphy came with church planting, but we have no regrets.
The calling to follow Jesus isn’t always pragmatic.
When we stopped a few weeks ago to admire an old farmhouse in the current town we are in, we were blown away that it had a “House For Sale: To Be Moved” sign attached to the back of it. For years, I had looked at this house every time we had made the trip to town and had felt drawn towards it, but we had no idea it was for sale. When we started having conversations with the owner, we found out the house had been sitting for over 3 years. It needed a terrible amount of work, but it was just our kind of project. It seemed like a great blessing for her to have the house taken off her hands, and it was exactly what we had always hoped for but had never expected to find.
For the past few weeks, I have dedicated hours and hours to negotiating quotes, studying what would be needed to make this move happen, and learning how to bring this house up to code. We met with a local bank and began the process of getting a loan that we could afford. Every time we thought there would be a red flag, we were only greeted with green lights. We prayed constantly. We sought wise counsel.
We moved forward dreaming big and overwhelmed that we could be part of restoring such a beautiful piece of history and making it part of ours.
Yesterday, all of the dreams we had ended. The owner unexpectedly decided to go a different route with the property. Since it is rightfully hers, it’s a closed door. It’s an end of conversation.
We are heartbroken. It wasn’t just a house deal that fell through. There were dreams that ended with it.
I saw our family sitting on the old front porch as the sun set and turned all the grass golden on Redemption Square every evening. I saw the Bible studies we would have in our living room with friends and people we would meet and saw the kids that would run through the hallways to play in our children’s other rooms. I saw the kitchen that would be somewhat hard to date with the rest of the house overlooking three of my favorite places on the property while I cooked supper each evening. I saw the way the oak tree would shade the back of the house in the summer and make a perfect place for another picnic table to eat with friends. I feel as though I lived for years there, even though it was only a few weeks of visits. It doesn't make any rational sense, but it is how I feel.
Grief is a funny thing. If you knew me well, you would know I don’t get attached to things very easily. I really invest in people- not things we own. For some reason, this house felt like “ours,” even though it wasn’t.
For a long time, I stopped allowing myself to dream about living on Redemption Square, because it seemed too far away, too hard to work out, or just something selfish. After all, there are so many very hard and serious things happening all over the world. It somehow seemed to cancel out my right to dream.
Yet, I found out if I stopped dreaming, my soul suffocated.
I wasn't as happy. I didn't enjoy God as much. I was bitter with others. I stopped being able to do art. I was a self-made martyr. My soul was shriveling and imploding from lack of wonder and hope. That wasn't any way to live.
The more I read Scripture the more I believe dreaming is a healthy part of life. God is our good Father and He delights to give us good things. They may not come packaged as the "American dream." It doesn't mean that He doesn't give us good things, because He certainly does. God delights to show us His goodness and kindness and to lead us to Him over and over again. He wants to amaze us with who He is and to satisfy us with the depths of His mercy over and over again. He gives us good gifts, so they will lead us back to Himself- the best Gift of all.
If heaven is about God showering us with the riches of His grace over and over again, it is not too much to believe that He will begin giving us good gifts here and now, so we will anticipate more fully what is to come.
I've seen it. I know He does.
Though these current dreams for our little white farmhouse have ended in heartache, I pray I will be brave enough to dream bigger, trust deeper, and know that my Father’s plans for me are even better than the ones I had for myself.
God knows what we need. He will provide for us. God loves us and is a good Father. I will wait on Him. After all, it's God that I am really seeking. He is my home.