Funny how sometimes we stop and look at our lives and realize that we have stopped dreaming. Not altogether, of course-we would die otherwise. But those out there, “What the heck does that have to do with anything?” dreams. You know the ones: going into outer space, finding and extracting PsOW in a Cambodian jungle, marrying a prince. Dreams that make the other parts of your brain go- “uh, yeah, I’ll get right on that.”
But the thing is, these dreams ARE a part of us. They’re seedlings in the garden of our hearts that have sprouted while we were busy with more important things.
So we look back at the dreams of our younger day and we think – boy I have sold out! I’m boring and just doing the business of life. But beloved, do not doubt your heart and the shepherding of God so, for this is exactly the right plan. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, the Lord said something very interesting that I’m sure saved them energy and gave them an inheritance. He said that the entire land was theirs, but that He was going to leave the inhabitants in it to take care of it for them. I believe this is significant for a couple of reasons:
1. There is a difference between stewarding and occupying. Kind of like the difference between owing and renting. This was a people that had been nomads for an entire generation, and even before that. The ones entering the Promised Land did not have experience caring for vineyards and lands and houses. Their fathers came out of Egypt, where they were slaves, and nomads before that. Even the food in the wilderness was supernaturally provided. Actually, it’s interesting that the manna dried up on the day they walked across the Jordan – it was if the Lord didn’t waste any time in fulfilling His promise to Abraham, beginning the promise of making them a house for all nations. He did this by giving to them in seed form, an often misunderstood and frustrating act. They could have just gone from city to city, plundering and eating and celebrating, but the Father didn’t tell them to take FROM the land, but to take the LAND. This implies a partnership, investment and ownership, of growing in wisdom and influence season by season. This is why He left the inhabitants alive; otherwise the ground would become overgrown and crops would rot in the fields, and the people would be without government and order. He knew that this was a new thing for the Israelites – they had never HAD their own land before, not since the Garden of Eden, and He had a promise to fulfill. His promise was to establish Israel, to make her a praise in all the earth, to live among her and bless her. So
He wasn’t willing to do it the easy way, because it would not have been good for them. So
He told them to take it slow, roots down deep and keeping their eyes on Him.
2. You can only own the ground you have walked. This is the principle that keeps me from telling people I’m Scottish. It’s a little silly to claim something as an intrinsic part of you when you have no experience with it -in this way we allow the Lord to build our lives one step at a time. We can call ourselves prophets, or missionaries to Uganda, but if we have not taken the time to trace it out, break it into bite-sized pieces and make it a part of ourselves by investing time, prayer, resources, and interest, it can probably be safely said that it is not a part of us yet. The Israelites had to TAKE the land. They had to get their men together, rout out the inhabitants, walk and mark the boundaries, clear it and get it ready for their use, and then establish some sort of residence there, one that would last and produce. It is not in having the dream, but in the being capable of holding the dream that the extent of our life is shown. But this of course should not discourage us from having dreams that are far far beyond our capacity - I may never have enough money that buying a Land Rover, a notoriously bad investment, will not make a sizable dent in my finances, but I want one anyway. And this is okay – I enjoy the hope and the dream anyway. But for my life to spread, to not just hop and jump from one high point to another but to really own my own life and by investing and stewarding cause it to bear fruit for the One who gave it to me, I must be honest about what parts I actually possess. This is why I‘m not really worried about my diet & exercise right now, because I know that with my current schedule and finances I’m not able to make it a priority so rather than putting unhealthy expectations on myself I am letting the ‘inhabitants’ care for the land for me. And they can make some kick-butt French toast, let me tell ya.
3. You can’t leave an inheritance of what does not belong to you. If Israel was to be a great nation, and the blessing of God was to be on their children and their children’s children, then they would have to have something to leave. That means building, and sowing, and increasing, and having a storehouse of wisdom and justice and breakthrough. This is encouraging, because it means that whatever God had promised to do, if He does not do it in your lifetime He will surely do in your children’s, and if not in your children’s, then in their children’s.
4. We get to see His faithfulness daily, and THAT is what causes us to expand into the land. Think about it: how often have we asked Him to just make it happen, to just give it to us and get it over with? But in His mercy and wisdom He plants a seed instead, and then asks us to trust Him. We get to watch it grow every day, to see Him reach over and pull out a weed here, to shine more on it there, to drench it in His sweet rain. The point is not to have a full-grown plant –it is to see Him as a faithful gardener, the Shepherd of our souls. That is the treasure, and if we get what we want the season we want it, we miss out on an amazing show. He is giving us court side seats to a show of His faithfulness and goodness, and we should never pass up that opportunity. It is in the daily looking to Him, submitting our understandings of timing and what sowing and reaping are, that our capacity grows by miles, expanding our hearts to receive and our spirits for Him to flow through us. Kind of like babies; some species, like mice, have lots and lots of little tiny ones that when grown can cover, say, a barn. But with a human there’s only one, but it grows and grows and when it is ready it can have more of an impact than any amount of mice could have. By choosing to grow, to expand, to not let go because the pressure is increasing, we allow ourselves to become the kind of person that has more impact than many other people put together.
And this is how we stop ‘dreaming’. Or at least, it seems like we have, but what has actually happened is that we have grown so large that the impossible now seems inevitable. In other words, when we first looked over the expanse of all the land that could be ours, that our children might someday live in and inhabit it seemed incredible that our land might encompass not JUST that river there, but those mountains too, and the desert where wild things are, and that lush place in the valley that is teeming with life. By allowing our boundaries to slowly stretch and move and grow we encounter streams, and rocky hills and beasts that refuse to be tamed, and times that refresh our souls so that when we finally drive our stake into the ground at these landmarks it is a no-brainer that this land is ours. Because we have dug our hands into the dirt and invested, and failed and triumphed, and we KNOW our land, every foot of it. It is a part of us and we have compassion and ownership of it just as He does, and because of that we can walk through it as partners, yielding much fruit.**
This is why I continue to dream of finding prisoners of war in jungles – because He is daily teaching me how to find exactly the key that will sustain hurting hearts and bring them back to life. And I still dream of a prince finding me, though I have grown too large even for that dream, for He is establishing me as a queen. And I still want to go into outer space, because that would be amazingly cool and mind-blowing.
So beloved, do not fret when you see no more impossible boundaries, because it is certain that you have grown so large that they are no longer impossibilities, but inevitabilities. You are growing from strength to strength, allowing Him to replace drop by drop your own human, failing and suffering blood with that of His great Son and this blood cries out, yearning to be united with the thing it has purchased - and so it shall, joining you both in Peace and Love.
**This is what I think Heaven will be: all the ground we have walked and sweated over on earth will be completely given to us to steward, with resources and gifts not fettered by sin and fear. Amazing thought, and sobering.