In my writing, I do not often get very personal. I will always write about what is on my heart, but I share very few details about my life. Much of my existence is lived out in front of people, so it’s nice to be able to keep some stuff private. Well, today we are going to breach that wall. I am going to allow you to know some details that very few know, and I have never addressed publicly.
The theme today, as you can tell by the title, is broken dreams. I think that we all have experienced that over the past year. As the pandemic has raged on and the political fighting has reached absurd levels, we are forced into the thought that the world is not as it should be. Plans have fallen through, hopes have been diminished, and dreams have not come to fruition. It has been a hard year on all of us.
For me, it has been especially difficult. As someone who is in full-time youth ministry, I feel like I have missed out on a lot of what is normal for my life. All of our fun trips were canceled, most of the interaction has been online instead of in person, our annual mission week didn’t happen, and we had a mission trip to Guatemala that was postponed indefinitely. That is the struggle that I have had at work. They pale in comparison to the other struggles that happened for me in 2020.
This past year, after two years of marriage, I got divorced. This was unexpected and devastating. I had dreamed of being a husband and father for a long time. I went into my marriage assuming that it would last forever, as most people do. However, that is not what happened. In but a moment, my entire life got turned upside down. I was hurting and broken, and I wanted to runaway from everything. I wanted to leave my old life and disappear. Lo and behold, I got my chance to do so.
I love the city of Charlotte, NC. By happenstance, I ran into someone from my past who lives there, and they that told me that their church was looking for a new youth minister. I immediately applied. I was so ready to leave everything behind and start over new. My interview for the position went as well as it possibly could have, and I was convinced that they were going to hire me. I even had picked out where I would live and planned saying my goodbyes. I thought that this was God orchestrating a new beginning for me. This was my new dream. However, I got the email saying that they really liked me but were going a different direction. I later found out that I was the runner-up. I put on a happy face and said, “I trust that God has a reason for keeping me here.” Inside, I was completely crushed. I felt as though I was wandering through a desert of hopelessness. My faith never waivered, but I just didn’t understand why things were happening the way that they were. I believed God knew what he was doing, but it was beyond my understanding at that time. Brokenhearted is the best word to describe my entire demeanor at the time.
Fast-forward a few months to present day, and I am singing a different tune. God’s work is often best understood in hindsight. We rarely can understand what he’s up to in the moment because we become so consumed with our current circumstances. We lack the ability to see the big picture until it is completed. As I wandered through my desert, it turns out that I wasn’t walking alone. No, God was leading me to where I needed to go. He was bringing me to my Promised Land.
If you recall the story of Israel during the exodus from Egypt, they roamed the desert for 40 years. Times were hard for them, and very little seemed to go right. Even still, God was leading them. They had no idea what was in store for them, but God promised them something better than what they had before. The Jews struggled to believe it. All they could do is look at their circumstances and wonder if God knew what he was doing.
That’s where we find ourselves often in life, wandering through a desert. It can be a desert of sadness, despair, depression, hurt, anxiety, apathy, confusion, waning faith, etc. Life will rarely go as we want it to, and dreams will be broken. I can tell you this though; God will not leave you in that desert. He will make a path for you to eventually arrive at something better, a Promised Land. It will be a place of joy, happiness, and contentment. One day you will realize that the pain of the journey has passed, and you have been filled with gratitude instead. God has promised that he will turn our “mourning into dancing” and that we will be “clothed with gladness” (Both taken from Psalm 30:11). I can tell you that it’s true, not only because it’s in scripture, but because he has done it in my life. I honestly didn’t know if I would ever be happy again, and now, I have a smile that will not leave my face. If he did it for me, then he will do it for you.
If you find yourself stuck out in a desert today, don’t lose heart. I know that that is easier to say than to do. Trust me, I have been there. I spent far too much time in the “pit of despair” (Psalm 88). God knows how you are feeling. That is why he has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20) and to bring you through the desert to your Promised Land. He will see all those broken dreams and lead you to something better. I know this because it is the testimony of my life. He has your good in the palm of his hands. Trust him, follow him, and let him bring you to the place where you will experience blessing beyond measure. You will not be left in that desert forever. There is something much greater in store for you.