All of us become discouraged by unfulfilled dreams. Even when we have good, God-given dreams, circumstances can block their fulfillment. Here’s what I learned about God’s presence and grace through one of my biggest unfulfilled dreams.
My Lifelong Dream and What Crushed It.
I am one of those rare people nowadays; one of the few who can say that I spent a lot of time during my formative years being involved in a bunch of church activities. The events at church were very important in my life because church was the main avenue for socialization. In the 1960’s and 70’s life used to revolve around the church and church activities.
I grew up in the church music program. I’ve been an active participant in Sunday worship services and special events for the better part of my life. I even surrendered my life to full time Christian service at the age of fourteen. But life doesn’t always follow our plans.
As a teenager, I planned on serving on a church staff full time as the minister of music, but after an unwanted divorce in 2004 those dreams evaporated. Back then my denomination wasn’t in the habit of hiring divorced staff members. I even resigned from an interim position because the church refused to consider me for the permanent part time role. This is an ugly part of my past and not a good look for the denomination I had devoted a lifetime to.
From the outset I will tell you that this is not a “feel good” story. There isn’t a “sun peeking out from behind the clouds” moment where I will tell you all about the church that finally hired me to be their full time guy.
This is, however, an opportunity to talk about the goodness of God.
Cling to God’s Promises in the Bible When There’s No “Feel Good” Ending
“I love you, Lord
Oh, Your mercy never fails me
All my days have been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
I will sing of the goodness of God.”*
I had the opportunity to hear evangelist Dave Edwards preach out of Colossians 2. Dave’s message was about encouragement, and it was specifically aimed at Christians slogging through the world today. In the letter to the church at Colossae, the apostle Paul writes in chapter 2:
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of the understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.” (Colossians 2:1-4 ESV)
Dave Edwards’ message was a huge reminder for me. Maybe you need to hear this, too.
God’s not done with you. I know he’s not done with me. God still has a calling on my life; I may not be serving on a church staff in a full time position, and yes, my seminary degree hangs on my insurance office wall. He has a calling for your life as well.
If you are still breathing, God still has work for you to do. In the Colossians 2 passage there is encouragement and assurance that in Christ we find the key to the “treasure of wisdom and knowledge.” With this treasure we can face the coming challenges armed with the assurance that we are not alone. The Holy Spirit of God stands ready to help us through each and every situation .
Lean on Jesus, Even When Your Faith Is Attacked
Be encouraged, especially in these troubling times in which we live. Lean into Jesus. Lean into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your faith may be under fire at this point; I can say with all honesty that my faith has been enduring an onslaught of attack after attack from the enemy. God has remained faithful through every step of my life. If you are feeling that your faith is the new favorite target of a powerful enemy, now is the time to fully embrace Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to guide and direct your life.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:8-10, ESV)
Paul says here to be filled in Christ and to shun the ways of the world. The problem with sin is that since the beginning of time sin hasn’t changed. We keep trying to tell God we know better than He does. I have come to realize how empty those sinful ways were and are. Be filled with Jesus and those empty sinful ways can be overcome. If you are filled with the fullness of the completed works of Christ, then the ways of the world will not be appealing to you
Look For and Embrace Your Moments of Grace
Think about those moments of Grace that have worked to change your life. I think of this often because my wife, Kelly, is one of my moments of Grace. When I see her, hear her voice, or open a text message from her, I am reminded that she is God’s gift of grace to me at one of the lowest points in my life.
People have lost much since the start of the pandemic of 2020. Jobs and lives have been lost. Ways of life have been lost. Community with other people has been lost.
We never lost Jesus and his gift of salvation through grace by faith. We never lost the ability to talk with God through prayer. We never lost the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The God of all the universe is still God and still with us .
Be encouraged. God is still at work in our lives. He still loves you and me deeper than we can imagine. He still answers our prayers. You may be like me and not be where you think you should be in life, but God is still good.
“All my life you have been faithful
All my life you have been so, so good.
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God.”*
If you are needing some divine encouragement right now, pray with me:
Prayer for Divine Encouragement
God, I come to you today and acknowledge who you are. You are the only One who holds this universe together. You are my Father, who loves me more than I will ever know or can express. I need your assurance that I can rest on the completed work of Jesus Christ. I claim His completed work over my life today, and claim the wisdom and knowledge that is the hidden treasure in Jesus Christ. May this wisdom and knowledge bring me the comfort and encouragement I need for today. I give You every part of my life today so that my faith may be strengthened, and my will brought into alignment with Your will. Be Lord of my life, and let me rest in you. I know you are good and will love me all the days of my life. For your beautiful name I pray, amen.
* “The Goodness of God” © 2018 Fellow Ships Music, So Essential Tunes (Admin by Essential Music Publishing) Alletrop Music, SHOUT! Music Publishing (Admin by Capitol CMG Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing.
Dave Edwards – www.daveedwardsspeaks.com
Copyright © 2021 David E. Shelton, All rights reserved