When You Feel Like Your Dreams Are on Hold
“Would I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”
These are the words God pressed on my heart yesterday. I was in my living room during my morning quiet time. But my mind and spirit were anything but quiet. My journal was open as I furiously penned thoughts and frustrations, prayers and praises … dreams and disappointments. Page after page after page.
Hurricanes on the east coast, wildfires on the west, and COVID racing around the globe. So much chaos swirling all around us. Yet at the same time, here we are simultaneously trapped in our homes. Work from home. School at home. Church at home … What a paradox! Proverbs 27:1 warns us,
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
Isn’t that the truth?
Truth be told, there are quite a number of Bible verses that remind us not to hold on too tightly to our plans. That can be hard when we live in a society where we are virtually tethered to our calendars.
But what if God gives us the vision? What if our plans are conceived by the Holy Spirit? What happens when we move forward in obedience only to feel like we just slammed into a brick wall?
God says in His Word that when we yield to Him, we will hear His voice saying,
“This is the way, walk in it …” and that He will lead us in the way we should go. (Isaiah 30:21, 48:17).
So we move forward. We step out in faith … then suddenly, wham!
A dear friend had just moved into a lovely home in the beautiful redwoods of Mount Hermon. She had been looking forward to having a quiet place where she could rest and God could give her son room to heal. Just weeks later, she was forced to evacuate because of approaching wildfires.
Another friend has a daughter who had been planning her wedding for over a year. Then COVID hit. They postponed the date. They postponed it again. Finally, she told her parents, “I just want to get married and move on with my life.” Others have lost their homes or had to say goodbye to loved ones from a distance.
As I was praying and journaling, I was struggling with my own disappointment over the LEGION Bible study video production dates being canceled at the last possible moment due to the fires. Add to that the enemy’s attempt to pile on guilt in knowing that my disappointment is trivial compared to what many others are dealing with.
The worse part of it is that no one knows when it will all end. In times like these, it is so easy to give in to despair, but that’s when we have to stop and say, “BUT GOD …”
BUT GOD knows. And God cares. In fact, long before He gave you the dream, He knew exactly how the path, timing, and outcome would look. This is when we need to remind ourselves that God is sovereign over all. In fact, this is one of the key themes in the teaching sessions I will be recording for the Legion Bible study. (Good grief, I need to heed my own words!) And so as I was praying yesterday morning, “casting my cares” on God about when or if the video production would happen, I heard God’s gentle voice, saying,
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”
In other words, if God has pressed a dream into my heart or yours, would He bring us to the edge of fulfillment only to abandon us there? NEVER. GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED. The path may look different than what we imagined. The timing may not be what we had hoped. But if God gives us the vision, the OUTCOME is as sure as the tomb was empty on resurrection morning.
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)
What dream are you trusting God to fulfill in this season?
Fill ‘er Up
by John UpChurch, crosswalk.org
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” – Colossians 1:24-26
Right after I got married, I gave up computer software updates and PC troubleshooting for something a bit more… down to earth, you could say. I needed work in my new hometown, and since employers weren’t tracking me down and forcing jobs on me, I gravitated toward the only available option: construction. With a booming housing market at the time, finding enough to do wasn’t a problem.
But finding motivation was a problem. Going from a specialized, higher-paying job in computers, where I mostly sat at my desk all day, to cleaning up cinder blocks, wrestling with insulation, and scrubbing windows—that was quite the humbling thing. Honestly, I’d never had to do any real manual labor in my life before that (yes, I was coddled). The heat and pain and bloodied hands were all new to me.
The first few weeks, after a particularly arduous day of gophering around the jobsites, I’d come home and crash on the living room floor. My muscles weren’t used to the beating they took, and they made sure I knew about it.
Slowly, however, with all the wood slinging and nail pounding and putty slapping, things changed. The nights of carpet collapses became less frequent, and my hands didn’t split open nearly as often (unless you count the numerous times I stabbed myself with a chisel). In fact, I came to enjoy the process of seeing something come together, seeing a house take shape.
My spiritual growth has come in a similar fashion—just without the splinters. At first, the failures dragged me down and beat me up. The rejections when I tried to share my newfound faith stung. The transformation cut deep. But as I grew and as God worked in me, something changed. The pain still stings and the transformation still cuts (that never stops), yet I began to see the pain as an important part of the overall process. Christ is building something in me—and in His Church.
As humans, we all suffer. But as Christians, we fill up on suffering. Sounds bad, but the point is that instead of us letting the suffering go to waste, God uses it for the good of other believers (and our own). He takes the pain and makes it passion, passion that spills out as love for our brothers and sisters.
Deception is Satan’s trademark, and it’s nothing new. The very first book of the Bible tells of his trickery with Eve in the Garden of Eden: He planted seeds of doubt about God’s words by asking, “Indeed, has God said … ?” (Gen. 3:1). And this is still the devil’s primary tactic because deception blinds people to the truth.
If you’ve ever accepted a false belief or been intentionally deceived, you know how devastating it is to feel betrayed. Now imagine the utter ruination Satan causes by blinding people to the truth of the gospel. It’s hard to imagine the countless souls who will suffer eternally because of his trickery.
However, the devil doesn’t limit his efforts to preventing faith. He also works diligently to deceive believers by feeding us discouraging thoughts: he insinuates God doesn’t care when we’re going through difficulties and suggests He’s unjust for allowing our suffering. Our enemy also prompts us to dwell on the wrongs done to us or the things God hasn’t provided so we’ll hold grudges, complain, and find fault.
All this robs us of the joy, gratitude, and peace that are ours in Christ. Our first defense against deception is a mind filled with truth from God’s Word so we can discern the lies before they poison our emotions and contaminate our behavior.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” – Psalm 42:1-2 ESV
The psalmist didn’t have a casual relationship with God. He was not just part of traditions, religious rituals, or history. God was central to his life, and that relationship was personal. He knew God and knew Him intimately. He looked to God for every need – protection, provisions, and purposes.
While he always needed God, there were times when his need was particularly crucial. He was writing at one of those times. He described this desire as being like a deer that “pants for flowing streams.” This was a picture of how deer get nourishment for survival. This suggests an even deeper, more urgent need for David.
The Hebrew word says he longed for God. He needed Him for the basics of life, for everything that makes life worthwhile. He panted for God. Similarly, his soul thirsted for God. This was a thirst “for the living God,” the God who is alive and present and can do anything.
Our relationship with God should be like this. We should need Him as much as a deer needs water. We should desperately seek Him, not just with casual prayers, but also with determined, serious prayers. We should be like Jesus in the garden when he “prayed more earnestly,” and “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Spend time in prayer. Dig deeper into your heart and mind. Long for God’s presence.