It all started as a strategy for outreach. We sat around a table and began to dream out loud, trusting that the fire of shared passion and the wisdom of group process would yield creative ideas for communicating the love of Christ to our community.
I don’t mind confessing that I loved my dream. We would offer free oil changes to those in need: the poor, the elderly, single parents, come one, come all! Coffee and brownies would make the most of the waiting time as those of us less talented with a wrench would fill cups and keep the conversation flowing. We prepared colorful informational brochures about our church and its programs. We bought supplies, spread the word, and waited.
Not one person signed up.
Not one person called to inquire.
Rebounding from Disappointment
The spectacular crash and burn of my dream rang in my ears for a long time. In fact, it was all I could hear, and it was ages before my idea spigot found its way back to the on-position once again.
Reading through Jeremiah this year, I’m finding a soul mate in this life of perpetual rebound from disappointment. For 23 years, God’s Word came to Jeremiah. He rose early, and he burned the midnight oil. His words were the key note in a chorus of prophecy straight from the heart of God, urging Israel to back away from the abyss of their bad behavior.
They did not listen.
Yet, Jeremiah was persistent.
Looking back, there are plenty of reasons why my outreach brainstorm yielded not even a passing shower. In the nearly twenty years since, I’ve learned a lot about planning and about the unique ministry climate of my mid-coast Maine context. It was an idea that was doomed to fail before it even started, and yet . . .
Our story does not end with the death of one dream.
God’s new morning mercies jogged Jeremiah out of bed every day to share a message that burned like fire. Living in persistence requires showing up.
Showing Up with Fresh Creative Energy
Our little band of believers has gone on to host dinners and day camps. We’ve caroled in December and picnicked in July, always inviting our community to the party.
Sometimes they come.
We have great conversations.
They hear the Truth about a loving God who spread His arms wide to embrace the world.
Sometimes, though, on event day, we sound like Jeremiah:
“You never listened or paid the slightest attention.” (Jeremiah 25:3-4)
For Jeremiah to show up every day for 23 years with fresh creative energy for each day’s attempt took supernatural strength. I want to persevere in that same strength.
It takes holy persistence to press into a task when all around you wafts the stench of failure. Holley Gerth, author of You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, reminds me, however, that “success isn’t about outcome; it’s about obedience.” When the God-sized dream that we launch like a bottle rocket crashes onto the rocks below, we start over.
Committing the dream to God, we begin again with all the enthusiasm of an encore: “Lord, this is for you!”
The curtain rises.
By faith, we begin again.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts (and maybe your shared experiences?) on the holy persistence that presses into a dream when all around you wafts the stench of failure.
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This post first appeared at God-sized Dreams.
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