June 20, 2017
We all have them: plans that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, prayers that seem like they didn’t make it past the ceiling, dreams that break and are shattered as we wonder what went wrong. We go on, leaving behind broken dreams and seemingly unanswered prayers, but often they remain etched in our mind along with a question mark. Why didn’t things turn out the way I had planned, or hoped, or prayed?
What is a broken dream, anyway, but an idea of a path, or somewhere we thought our life should go but that led us elsewhere. We made a turn, somewhere, where life seemed to fall apart, or we lost our way and missed it somehow.
Being the flawed human beings that we are, we usually think we’ve failed. We begin to blame ourselves, or others and carry a weight of failure or disappointment around, sometimes for years. If we blame others, that can be a heavy weight to carry, and until we give it up and forgive, it has the power to taint and mar the joy in our life so much that life itself can become a sad and weary experience.
The way we tend to judge things to be either “a success” or “a failure” is often such a keyhole-sized view. We peer inside and see only a tiny glimpse, which confirms, once again, a sad, sad acceptance of our failure. But if we could only see our lives from a bigger, more complete perspective, so many other elements and colors and highlights would come into view, and that tiny image would be transformed into the marvelous masterpiece that it truly can be, and probably is, in God’s eyes.
So often we focus on the dark spots, the losses and perceived failures, all the while our life is a beautiful and colorful, joyful, and bright painting. Maybe those dark spots in our lives could mean a broken friendship, a painful breakup, something fun falling through, or perhaps a feeling that our goals and dreams are slowly being swept away by life just being the way it is—complicated, busy, and not always in our favor.
If we try to figure God out or try to fully understand His plan for our lives, forcing things to fit into our very limited perspective, we will only be disappointed in ourselves and Him when things don’t happen the way we dreamed and hoped.
But if we have the faith to give Him the shattered pieces of our dreams and hopes, and trust Him to work with them as He knows is best, we will find that dreams can be mended and realize that all is not lost. How can this happen? When does it happen? In His perfect way and in His perfect time. We, as humans, are stuck in the bounds of space and time. God, on the other hand, sees things differently. To Him, everything is happening according to His great plan, especially for those things we entrust to His care and perfect love.
All He wants is our heart and our acknowledgment that we need Him in our lives. It’s so easy to try to figure it all out alone, to take the broken pieces of our dreams and start trying to put them together again ourselves. All the while, He is nudging us, asking us to let Him do the piecing to create something even better for us. But sometimes we’re so busy with those shattered remains, and the tiny, limited understanding of the way we want things or think they should be, that we leave Him out of it.
When that happens, He lovingly and patiently waits for us to come to the end of ourselves and our futile attempts to fix things so that He can then pick up the pieces of our broken dreams and make them so much better than we were able to dream up on our own.
He, who is only love, has His own dream for our lives. He, who has only our best interests in mind, stands waiting with a paintbrush ready to paint into reality His dream of a life full of splashes of light and blends of color, depth, and texture. This is a dream that will not break. All we have to do is let go and let Him make something beautiful.—Janet Kluck1
Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something beautiful of my life.
If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life
And laid it at the cross.
The journey John had taken with Jesus is filled with triumph, persecution and suffering, but culminates in undulating elation and adoration. As a young fisherman on the shores of Galilee, John drops everything to follow Jesus. He listens to His intimate teaching of His disciples, and is witness to miraculous wonders and signs, as well as the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This would bring John back to Jerusalem and eventually to Ephesus, a city enshrined in pagan worship and idolatry. John would then be cast into exile, an old man on the island of Patmos.
Stripped of everything—his family, friends, home, possessions and an outer world he knew—John is now left completely alone with Jesus. No longer fiery and presumptuous, he is humbled and courageous, a citizen of heaven. He had arrived at his uppermost, leaving behind a world that he does not know he will ever come back to. The revelation John is given of the apocalypse, which means ‘unveiling’ or ‘uncovering’, is as though Jesus is pulling back the curtain and saying, “This is reality; this is the real story.” Whatever John could see going on around him, he trusted Jesus for a much bigger story beyond that which he could see.
In our walk with God, it sometimes feels as though we are on an island like Patmos where we have nothing left but God Himself. God is the end of the road for us. He is our destination. Jesus said, “We will come to them and make our home with them.”2 Jesus making His home in our hearts is what coming home means. The Patmos experience may feel as though we are alone, but “God will never leave you, nor forsake you.”3 Oswald Chambers writes, “A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone.”
Disappointments will come and go in the Christian life. People we used to have a good rapport with will flicker out, and those who stood by us will turn away… We must build our faith not on fading lights, but on the light that never fails. John’s revelations tell us that all life on earth is in the hands of Jesus. Keep trusting Him and we will ultimately see beyond what we can see to the face of God ourselves.—Charles Price
Published on Anchor June 2017. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.
2 John 14:23.
3 Joshua 1:5.
Copyright © 2023 The Family International