“The greatest human tragedy is to give up the search. Nothing is of greater importance than the life of our heart. To lose heart is to lose everything. If we are to bring our hearts along in our life’s journey, we simply must not, we cannot, abandon our desires.”
–John Eldridge, The Journey of Desire
I woke early this morning to finish this blog. As I sit down to write, my entire body aches. I am sore in muscles that I was unaware I had. I hurt in places I didn’t know existed. And while the physical pain isn’t enjoyable, it is also a reminder of the sweet, life-giving day I experienced. Yesterday I got to be part of the fulfillment of a dream that was well over two decades in the making. I got to help a family move into a home they finished building on a property they had bought ten years ago. This family is moving back to Colorado after starting up a company they have dreamed of the majority of their marriage. As we were moving and unpacking, I got the opportunity to hear and recount so many of the twists, turns, struggles, set-backs, and sacrifices made on their journey. I heard of so many battles that had to be fought– some which they continue to fight– in order to make this dream a reality. And while yesterday was sweet in so many ways, it was bittersweet. You see yesterday pressed into a growing place of tension for me both personally and professionally. A tension between the life we desire and were created for and the reality in which we so often find ourselves.
Personally, I am in a period of growth and transition. It is a beautiful season of looking toward the future and establishing new dreams and desires. Dreams of moving more fully into my counseling career. Desire to have a greater influence on the people and in the community in which I minister– to have a more substantial impact. Desire for deeper intimacy with my wife. Dreams of providing and maintaining a beautiful home for my family where they can feel safe, secure, and loved. Desire to be a strong and engaged husband and father. Desire for adventures and trips as a family. Excitement to watch my children grow. And while dreaming can be fun and exhilarating, it can also be painful and risky. I am learning that dreams and desires expose us. Make us vulnerable. So much of life is uncertain. Unable to be controlled or planned. Life is hard. People are broken. This world is not as it should be. And as I allow myself to dream and desire for life as it should be, it exposes the reality of the fallen world in which I live. Relationships are messy. Marriage can be hard. Kids are a delight- but they are exhausting. Careers are difficult to establish much less grow. It is a constant battle to keep up with bills and finances. Tragedy, sickness, and loss change the entire trajectory of families. This is reality. And it is at this point that life’s greatest temptation comes– Settle. Resign. Disown desire. Give up the dream. Stop dreaming altogether. Abandon hope.
As a counselor I see this on a daily basis. You don’t find yourself in the office of a professional counselor because life is as it should be. Most counseling starts out as triage. Individuals just want the pain to be a little less intense– for life to be more manageable. They want the pain of the recent loss to pass. They want their financial crisis to end. Their job or job search to be less stressful. To be rid of the painful memories that keep them stuck. Couples want to fight less. To simply be able to exist in the same home as the person they bump up against on a daily basis would be a huge improvement– would make a world of difference. Dreams and desires are not necessarily even words that exist in their vocabulary any longer. Life has been brutal and unfair and hope has been lost. And again this is where the temptation lies. Settle. Resign. Abandon faith. Give up on the marriage or the kids. Don’t pursue the dream job. Lose hope that better days are coming.
We are a long way off from experiencing the abundant life which Jesus promised during his time on earth. And while the full measure of this abundant life is not possible on this side of eternity, God is in the business of restoring life here on earth. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have hope. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” My hope is that we don’t lose heart. That we hold onto faith. That we continue to dream or begin to dream again.
As I was finishing this blog, I was interrupted by the daily blood-curdling scream of my four year old daughter: “Mom, Dad, I’m ready to get up!” As I went to scoop her from her bed the first thing she said was. “I had a dream. It was a good dream.” This is a long way off her normal cranky start to her morning. Such sweet words for a dad to hear. And as she said it I knew God was giving me a glimpse of his heart towards his children. The joy of a father to hear the good dreams of his child.