Don’t believe me? Try dreaming about something that is exciting and important to you, only to be disappointed. But the alternative to vision isn’t much better. Instead of dreaming, you could play it safe. Be complacent. Wish for nothing and hit it every time.
Doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it? Heartache or boredom. Tightrope with no net or treadmill with no hope. How do you make peace with your dreams? How do you keep from hating the whole process? How can you avoid “optiphobia” – the fear of vision?
Start with a little perspective. Take baseball, where 30% success is a standard of excellence. Where swinging for the fences results in many more strikeouts, as well as home runs. You can stay in the dugout, and guarantee you’ll never get on base. But to step up to the plate, you must be willing to risk failure or disappointment.
There is also the personal perspective. Zig Ziglar said, “Failure is an event, not a person.” I love that! But that is also true of other things. Disappointment is an event, not a person. Detours, dead-ends, and dashed hopes are all events and circumstances – not God’s last word on you.
I wonder what Nehemiah or Ezra would have done had the king said, “No?” Would they have been disappointed? Sure. Would they have tried again later? Maybe. But most importantly, they would have done what they’d already been doing. Ezra “devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Nehemiah “sat down and wept, and fasted certain days (four months), and prayed to the God of Heaven.” Both men would have gone back to the God who gave them the vision in the first place.
A few years ago, as I was standing in front of a big, hairy, audacious dream, my daughter sent me this note:
I was praying about all of the [possibilities], and the Lord told me that He wants to bless us, but we have to let go of all of our past disappointments first. Giving those disappointments to him is a true act of faith, because it is comforting for us to cling to them…almost familiar. I’ve been learning about homeostasis…how all systems inevitably resist change. This has to be a change from all of the other situations we’ve been in/through. And giving up our past disappointments is a step toward something new and different.
If your vision is only about you, then maybe you have a right to take your disappointments personally. But if it is about God, the Kingdom, or His purposes for you, then you have the wonderful privilege of bringing your confusion or disappointment back to Him for understanding, clarification, and encouragement. Just as a baseball player returns to the dugout disappointed because he stuck out, but still in love with the game, you can return from the playing field with gratitude that you are a part of a Kingdom that is not your own, but that you have been given the honor of participating in. And in the dugout (where you may be right now), you have time to think, to analyze, to get feedback from the coaches and other players, and look forward to the next at-bat.
Dream on, Sparky.
And dream big.
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