Today I would like to begin by asking you all to remember the families of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 - as tomorrow marks the 12th anniversary of that tragic and world changing event. I even read yesterday that over 1400 of the rescue workers and emergency crews who helped right after the collapse of the towers (and others I'm sure) have come down with some form of cancer from inhaling the dust, etc. I would ask you to pray for them.
Now, as far as our 'thought' for this week, it comes from Dr. Larry Crabb, and is taken from his book, "Shattered Dreams."
In some ways it even relates to what I've just mentioned regarding 9/11, but I must warn you that it takes some readjusting of our minds, and a reorientation of our accepted presuppositions to comprehend what he's saying! In a culture like ours where the "quality of life" paradigm under-girds everything we think, feel and believe, we must consider what he says lest certain portions of Scripture continue to remain a mysterious enigma to us. Are you up for the challenge? Enjoy.
"Shattered dreams 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. They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream... God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts.
It’s hard to hear, but it is important to know, that God is not committed to supporting our ministries, to preventing our divorces, to preserving our health, to straightening out our kids, to providing a livable income, to ending famine, or to protecting us from agonizing problems that generate in our souls an experience that feels like death. We cannot count on God to arrange what happens in our lives in ways that will make us feel good. Yet we can count on God to patiently remove all the obstacles to our enjoyment of Him. He is committed to our joy, and we can depend on Him to give us enough of a taste of that joy, and enough hope that the best is still ahead, to keep us going in spite of how much pain continues to plague our hearts...
The battle is not to improve our circumstances, to supply us with money, to protect us from suffering, to keep us safe from pain and struggle, or to quickly fix whatever problems develop in our bodies. We are encouraged to pray for all these things, but we must always finish our prayer with that wonderful caveat that in our immaturity we find so annoying: if it be Thy will be so.
The illusion that life in a fallen world is really not all that bad must be shattered. When even the best parts of life are exposed as pathetic counterfeits of how things should be, the reality drives us to a level of distress that threatens to utterly undo us. But it’s when we’re on the brink of personal collapse that we’re best able to shift the direction of our soul from self-protection to trusting love. The more deeply we enter into the reality that life without God is sheer desolation, the more fully we can turn toward Him…
The richest love grows in the soil of an unbearable disappointment with life. When we realize life can’t give us what we want, we can better give up our foolish demand that it do so and get on with the noble task of loving as we should. We will no longer need to demand protection from further disappointment. The deepest change will occur in the life of a bold realist who clings to God with a passion only his realistic appraisal of life can generate.
Until we recognize with tears how determined we are to move away from pain and how that determination reflects our blasphemous decision to preserve our own life, we will not be able to identify the subtle ways in which our relational style violates love for others by keeping us safe… We repent by radically shifting our motivation and direction from self-preservation to trust on the basis of the belief that Christ has both given, and is preserving, our life. The fruit of repentance is a changed style of relating that replaces self-protective maneuvering with loving involvement."
It may take a few glances to fully comprehend what he's saying since we are so convinced that God's primary purpose in our lives is, "to support our ministries, to prevent our divorces, to preserve our health, to straighten out our kids, to provide a livable income, to end famine, or to protect us from agonizing problems that generate in our souls an experience that feels like death." We're not used to hearing that God is instead committed to, "removing all the obstacles to our enjoyment of Him." Especially When the "obstacles" He's committed to removing are those very things we have convinced ourselves He's supposed to be supplying us with (like good health, a livable income, teens that behave, a wonderful marriage, etc.).
This is one of the reasons so many Christians in our day simply cannot grasp how James could say (and Paul with him - Romans 5:1-5) that we need to, "count it all joy when we face all kinds of trials." One can only do that when they realize (as James did) that the purpose in our trails and difficulties is meant by God to increase our reliance or dependence upon Him, strip away our trust in false sources of joy (and thus expose idols of the heart), wean our hearts away from their fixation on earthly things, and cause us to see that He Himself is the treasure that far exceeds all that this world has to offer. Sometimes its only though trials and hardships that the things of this earth begin to pale in comparison to God and the eternal joys He has stored up for us.
With prayers that you might see your shattered dreams and earthly disappointments as divinely ordained ways of bringing about your enjoyment of Him -- Pastor Jeff