While the dreams of my peers were just beginning to bud and flourish, my twenties began with a nightmare.
Just months after stepping into this new decade where the dreams of youth were supposed to become the substance of life, I received a wound that was deeper than I thought I could bear. My brother died from drug abuse. The same brother I had spent years on my knees for.
Something shifted in me that day my brother died. The internal clock that wore circles into my soul, telling me I only had so much time on this earth seemed to begin to tick a little louder. The eternal longing that had been set in my heart from the beginning started to ache in a way I could not ignore. Through the ups and downs of the years that followed I began to whisper a prayer… God, let me grasp the reality of eternity. Let me live for what lasts longer than this short life.
Over the next decade as I fought to cling to Jesus, with gentleness, He began to instruct my heart in the ways of His goodness. Much to my surprise, this journey took me down a path I never imagined I would walk, leaving the dreams of my youth scattered along the way.
I had dreamed as a young girl that my twenties would hold a godly marriage, children, adoption, a home and ministry in another nation…or maybe teaching in an inner city school. My heart beat with God’s heartbeat for the poor and the broken.
But Jesus’ heart was also beating for my poor and broken heart and He was in no hurry to fix me up so I could be useful…the way I imagined it should work. In His mercy, He took His time putting me in all sorts of jobs and situations where He knew He could reach and heal the deepest of my wounds.
Ten years passed and the months leading up to my 30th birthday arrived. Many laughed as I confessed my fear of turning 30 and quickly told me I was young and had many years before me. This may be true, but I didn’t know how to reconcile my little girl dreams, or what society says, with the present reality. I had been sure, as a young girl that I would begin to see the fulfillment of my dreams before I turned 30.
And yet there I stood, a few feet from that 30 year old hurdle, 29 years full with hands empty. No husband, no children, no home of my own, no job, not even a ministry in the present months and my dreams still feeling just as far away as they did when I was a child. How could this be? Life certainly did not look the way I expected.
For those last months of my twenties I grieved the loss of what I thought would have been mine by now. But our Beloved One is never far from the broken and contrite heart–this I had learned well over this decade. With hinds feet He jumps and treads upon the high places No obstacle is too high for Him…not even my 30 year old hurdle.
As I laid my head down to sleep one night, I whispered one last question in His ear… Why God? Why are my dreams unfulfilled? Why do these ten years look like a disconnected waste? In an instant He whispered back: Because My dreams for your life are bigger than your dreams for your life.
It was a holy moment.
Each of those whispered prayers over the last decade about eternity had lodged deeply in His heart, and all along, He had been answering.
I began to weep as I realized the dreams He whispered of, the dreams He cherished in His heart for my life were not just for the days my feet would trod the soil of this age and my heart would bear the toil and pain of living in this fallen world. His dreams for my life covered the distance of eternity. What looked like waste, the years of my twenties poured out and given to Him in secret, my heart fighting through pain to see His face, was to Him the gold that gets stored up where moth and rust cannot destroy.
I walked out of a decade feeling like I had failed, seeing even my attempts to love Him through the eyes of condemnation and He took that decade and draped a banner from start to finish with the declaration: She gave it all for Love.
How generous His eyes are! He looked into the deepest parts of me and He saw my desire to love.
He saw every small choice to reach for Him. He saw it all and He remembers it.
As I take my first steps forward into this new decade, my hands may be empty but my heart is full. He has lifted my eyes to see eternity set before me, both in the midst of the mundane days and in exciting adventures. The dreams of my heart are shifting and changing and I am beginning to store up my treasures in His heart, where I can find my home and my hope beyond the end of time.
In a way I never would have known had I held in my hands all I thought I wanted I know that He Himself is the treasure of all treasures! He is not a consolation prize, given to those with unfulfilled longings and dreams that have expired.
He is the prize!
One day we will see and know this with clarity when we look into those fiery eyes, but oh to know it now! This has become the greatest dream of my heart.
“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18