For many years I lived a sheltered life. No not everything was always hunky dory. I mean there was that time my girlfriend's dad did not like me. There was that time when a certain college said "don't come around here no more" and my friend Wade wrote (and sang) a song called The Ballad of Bobby V. There was that time when I walked into a meeting expecting to get an extra week of vacation and a pay raise and the elders inexplicably said you need to pack your bags and exit quickly. But through it all I thought I discerned the hand of God. To this day I don't know what I was supposed to have "learned" from that ordeal in Mississippi. But I would never have found my friends in Milwaukee had it not been for that ... and my friends at Southside were and are friends in deed. God saw us, the Valentine family, through. The wife of my dreams and daughters that would melt the heart of the coldest snake. But you know what, I had no idea what some folks went through that I preached to every week.
But those dreams shattered! I have learned that lots of peoples dreams shatter. Now my dreams were not extravagant. I dreamed of being a good husband. I dreamed of being a cool dad. I did not dream of being rich, powerful or even the keynote speaker at Pepperdine. Like Tobias when he met his bride Sarah ... I dreamed of "growing old with the wife of my youth" (Tobit 8.7). I believed these were good dreams. But those dreams shattered! All the praying, all the shouting at the night sky, all the pounding the floor, all the making deals with God, all the pleading and quoting Scripture ... did not unshatter those dreams! Sometimes it makes you wonder where the Father of Mercies is ... Indeed sometimes the thoughts I feel ... well Tennyson said it better than me ...
I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest cloths against the cold;
But that large grief which these unfold
Is given in outline and no more.
It is clear that Tennyson had a Shattered Dream too. Shattered Dreams hurt like hell. In fact they are hell. The pious wrestle with guilt because they almost feel like they have "sinned" by even thinking the thoughts they think in the middle of that dark night. How do you move forward? How do we handle it when it seems that we never move forward? In fact when we think hell could be no worse we discover that there is at least one more level down!
Shattered Dreams are enough to make us actually embrace the real Job, the angry Job. Job says he had a major problem with God. He desperately wanted to find God to set the record straight. "If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments ..." (Job 23.3-4). The desperation of his shattered dreams Job says he will go "east" and then "west" and "north" and finally "south" but through it all "I catch no glimpse of him" (Job 23.8-10).
You know what I have learned? I have learned the best of us are capable of incredible self-serving and self-centered hurtful actions. I have learned that for years I had no idea what it meant to walk by faith. I have learned that though God is faithful he does not answer to me. I have learned that the vandalism of God's shalom is real and not make believe ... and that vandalism, that falleness can rip us to shreds. I have learned that Christian ministry is no about debating irrelevancies like instrumental music but rather seeing that a Crucified (yet Risen) Carpenter is truly King ... even in the midst of Shattered Dreams. I have learned that perhaps God is serious when he says we win by dying! That we gain victory through surrender! That "to this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Pt 2.21).
One last thing I have learned. I have learned that I hate Shattered Dreams. I hate them. I hate them. And I hate them. I should count it as all joy. But I haven't made it yet. How do we not? We continue to Cry into the Night. We search for him believing that he has truly revealed his intention and his power in Jesus Christ ... and resurrection has occurred. The New Heavens and New Earth are coming. Hope ...
This particular blog is simply a thinking and sharing "out loud." Take it for what it is.