Beautiful Ending

You would think that Mary, of all people, would get it. After all, she was the one to whom the angel appeared. She knew from the start that the child she carried would be the Messiah.

With a birth announcement like that, you’d think it would be hard to forget who Jesus really was.

But apparently it wasn’t. If you read the first few chapters of Luke, you’ll find that Mary “treasured” and “pondered” the events of Jesus’ childhood, “marveled” at the prophecies spoken at His birth, and was “astonished” to find Him imparting wisdom to the teachers in the temple courts.

And I have to wonder how she could so easily forget who He was. Did staring into the eyes of a helpless babe somehow lessen her view of the Messiah? Did she not understand what she had signed up for? Did she ever get it at all? Because when I look at Mary’s life after that moment she said yes to God, I don’t see signs of that inspiring faith we’ve all learned to admire.

Sure, there was the day she urged Jesus into starting off His ministry by transforming a bit of water into wine, but then there was the day she and her other sons went to “take charge of Him,” convinced He was out of His mind (Mark 3:21).

What happened to her dream? What happened to her faith? And perhaps most importantly… how many times have I asked myself the same questions?

How many times have I abandoned a dream because I forget how clearly God breathed it into being? How many times have I “treasured” and “pondered” and “marveled” at things God had promised me all along? How many times have I found myself astonished that God is actually true to His word and that He is finishing the work He began in me?

I think that once upon a time, I prayed for a faith like Mary’s and it seems like I got it–though it’s not all I dreamed it would be. Because I missed a vital part of the story: the ending.

The last time we see Mary in scripture, she’s weeping at the foot of the cross. There’s no resurrection for her. I mean, there was, obviously, but it’s never recorded through her eyes. Our final picture of Mary is a broken, doubting woman living out the worst day of her life.

And if that’s where Mary’s faith will leave me, I’m reneging on my prayer. Because I don’t want to be guilty of forgetting God’s promise. I don’t want to stand weeping at the death of my dreams without ever getting to see the resurrection.

I want the kind of beautiful ending that finds me in the arms of God in the final scene.

Not Exactly Glamorous Dreams

“Rebekah,” my pregnant co-worker said to me one day, “there are a lot of things people don’t tell you about pregnancy. It’s not glamorous!”

I laughed at her choice of words, but understood what she was saying. What girl hasn’t imagined what it will be like to have children one day? What girl hasn’t fantasized that pregnancy is more, well, glamorous than it actually is? For thirty years, my co-worker envisioned being a mother and nurturing a child, but she wasn’t exactly prepared for all the crazy side effects that would befall her during the nine months she carried her daughter.

But pregnancy isn’t the only dream that loses its glamour. All your life, you dream of growing up and moving out and then it happens. You’re on your own. Independent. And suddenly you find that you just want your mommy. You set out with a plan to conquer the world, and suddenly it feels as if the world is conquering you. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen,” you think.

Because somewhere in your dream world, you have your life all mapped out, but you never left room for reality… until it came crashing in and destroyed your carefully-set foundation like an ocean wave rushing over a sandcastle. You immediately set to work shaping bridges and towers, but never anticipated the tide.

Life, in all its ebbs and flows, has a way of waking us up.

I sat down to write a proposal last week. First I tried to describe the heart of my book in two sentences. Then I allowed myself a page. And as I worked to describe and compare and sell my dream, I found myself growing more and more frustrated with this daunting task. This author thing, I realized, is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not glamorous. But it is worth it. Because whether or not it is everything I imagined it would be, it is my dream.

I cradled it, cherished it, nurtured it, and willed it into being. I’m an author. And I’m writing words that I love. And I’m writing words that I hate. And I’m striving to weave words more effectively and speak truth more freely. And I’m learning–always learning–that sometimes the things we didn’t anticipate are the best things of all.

Because my dream… it’s bigger than I am. In many ways, it’s not my dream at all. Many, many years ago, in a place I can’t quite recall, Someone breathed this dream into being and said, “Here, Rebekah, it’s yours. And it may not be glamorous. And it may not be easy. But you’re going to shape it and it’s going to shape you.”

So here’s to the not-so-glamorous dreams that make us who we are.

Hand Prints on My Heart

A man in the Middle East had a dream. In that dream, Jesus appeared to him and slapped him in the face. He awoke to find a hand print on his cheek. The mark lingered for three days. The doctors couldn’t explain it. Then Jesus appeared in the man’s dreams once more. Again, He slapped the man, this time telling him to seek Him. Three more days, the man’s face bore the mark of this supernatural occurrence. Then Jesus came again and asked, “Why did you not seek Me?”

“I don’t know who You are!”

So Jesus told Him who He is. And He explained how He could be found. And this time, when the man awoke, the hand print of God was not on his face; but on his heart.

A lot of people are surprised by that testimony. Some people have a hard time accepting that Jesus would do such a thing. Some people don’t seem to understand how desperately God desires our attention.

A pastor friend of mine once shared, “I’ve been told that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. I beg to differ; He slapped Paul right off a horse. That’s not very gentlemanly.”

I related with that statement because I’ve heard similar words. Words about how sweet and gentle Jesus is in dealing with His children. I guess there are people who don’t find it difficult to submit to God’s will. And maybe Jesus is gentle with them.

Then there are people like me.

I laughed when my friend told the story about the man and the hand print. I laughed because I’m familiar with the God who throws men from horses and spits in the eyes of the blind. I laughed because I was delighted to find that I’m not the only person who needs a holy slap in the face now and then.

Some people look at God and see His judgment and righteous anger. Other people look at God and are consumed by the depths of His mercy and grace. I like to look somewhere in between. When I look at God,  I see how He inflicts pain in order to bring healing.

So many times He has slapped me in the face, trying to get my attention. So many times I walk away from the encounter with a reminder I refuse to take to heart.

But unlike the man in my friend’s story, I am without excuse. I know who appears before me. I know what it is He wants from me. And that is why I flee. Sometimes I don’t want what God wants. Sometimes I don’t want to face the hurt that leads to the healing. But today…

Today is the day I choose to surrender and let the hand print move from my face to my heart.

Tell Everybody I’m On My Way

If you read my journal entries here of late, you would probably think I’m bi-polar. In all actuality, I’m on a roller-coaster ride called the publishing process. Take it from a girl in the midst of the drama, writing a book is not for the faint of heart. But here I am, living my dream, and finding that it isn’t always, well… a dream. Sometimes it’s more like a nightmare.

Life is hard work, full of ups and downs and ugly circumstances that will try to get the best of you. Sometimes you’ll sing; sometimes you’ll scream. And sometimes you’ll feel like giving up. Yes, sometimes you’ll want to quit. Sometimes you’ll tell God that you’re done – just plain done – with the situation that is causing you stress. With everything.

I’ve felt like that a lot lately. I’ve been telling God that I’m done. I’m so done. I’m beyond waiting for Beyond Waiting.

BUT GOD…

God has a way of reminding us of things. And when I cease to live the journey, He never fails to step in and remind me that life is more than a destination. This time, he used a bear – a little bear whose words of wisdom were composed by Phil Collins. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the movie Brother Bear (in fact, the only thing I like about it is that the musical score was written by Phil Collins and it therefore reminds me of my brother), but a brief clip of lyrics jumped out at me the other day and convicted my frustrated heart.

“Tell everybody I’m on my way
and I’m loving every step I take.”

I realized something the moment I heard those words. I’m on my way. And the situation I’m walking through is a necessary part of getting there. And I want to be able to say that I’m loving every step I take, but I can’t say that yet. The steps have been hard. My feet have felt heavy. And the view has been less than spectacular. But I am on my way. And though the journey is long and hard, you’re on your way too. And one day, every step will have been worth it. Let that thought lift your spirits and carry you through the mundane.

And don’t forget to tell everybody you’re on your way and loving every step you take.

This is Your Challenge to Dream

This is your challenge to dream. This is your call to aim for something higher than you ever dared to reach. This is your reminder that you were meant for so much more than the shallow existence so many others are willing to passively embrace. Others. Not you. No, you’re so much braver than that. You aren’t going to waste your potential.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever thought to do with your life? What’s that one thing that gets your heart racing just to think of it? Did you ever think that maybe it excites you for a reason? Did you ever dare to consider that maybe you were meant to pursue that dream? I don’t care how crazy it sounds. I don’t care who told you that you could never do it. All I want to know is if you ever considered that your big, crazy, seemingly-unattainable dream was God-breathed. Because if it is, it’s not unattainable after all.

I believe that you could achieve so much more than you dare to attempt. I believe that you were meant for so much more than the life you’ve been living. I believe that you have a dream that was meant for more than just dreaming. The danger is not in aiming too high; it’s in aiming too low.

So dream, dear friend, dream. But don’t just dream. Do.

Embracing the Fairytale

I won’t be Rapunzel sitting in a tower,

staring out the window and dreaming of the hour

I’ll be free from my gilded cage.

I’ll rewrite the story. I will turn the page.

I’ll be the Little Mermaid stretching out my hand,

reaching toward the surface and dreaming of dry land.

I’ll be Cinderella going to the ball,

escaping from the everyday and standing there in awe.

Part of that world, more than a dream,

more than a life of espressos and cream.

Somewhere, somehow,

I’ll live the life I’m merely dreaming of now.

Faith, hope and trust, second star to the right,

straight on ’til morning, I’ll fly through the night.

Fairytale endings, dreams coming true,

and I’m lost in wonder – glorious wonder –

experiencing the mundane with You.

Interrupted, Redirected, and Fulfilled

I finished a book the other night – a book I never even wanted to write. The book that started this blog. When God called me to this Beyond Waiting journey, I fiercely resisted. In case you don’t know, this girl wanted to be a novelist. Still does want to be a novelist. And here God was asking me to set that aside and pursue a different dream. His dream.

There was arguing, and praying, and begging, and crying, but God won in the end (He always does). Now here I am, a year later, staring at the full manuscript of a book. No gaps, no holes, but a completed (albeit rough) draft of Beyond Waiting. And I’m amazed. I’m amazed that I feel so much pride over something I had no desire to be a part of. I’m amazed that this journey I avoided has become one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. (I’m finding that this tends to happen a lot – the things I spend the most time resisting are the things that become most dear to my heart.)

I sit at the feet of the God who interrupts, redirects, and fulfills my wildest dreams and I weep with the wonder of it all. He has taken this dream I was sure didn’t exist and moved it to the forefront of my life, and now I see that it has been there all along – hidden within the deepest crevices of my heart.

I think that God does this with our lives more often than we care to admit. He sees the dreams we overlook, and He calls them out of His children. I truly believe that God wants to expand your boundaries as He has mine this past year. I believe He is presenting opportunities in your life. Doors for you to step through. Trails for you to blaze. Don’t be afraid to follow wherever the Father calls you. Let Him expand your vision. Allow Him to be the God who interrupts, redirects, and fulfills your wildest dreams. I promise you, you won’t regret it.