I am reading this book called Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb. Why? Well that is a blog for another day. The premise is that God uses shattered dreams (or even unfilled expectations) to bring us to him. What are those "dreams" or "expectations"? A husband, children, good jobs, health etc. All normal dreams and when we have them we feel "blessed". God is good! But what if those desires do not come true or we suffer loss? Is God not good anymore? Are we not blessed? These are hard questions, questions many of us will face. Dreams do shatter.
And when they do shatter our heart aches and is troubled. We find great conflict, conflict within ourselves and in our relationship with God. We may feel abandoned by God, angry, distant, and much more. Where is God we ask. We even look in within ourselves and ask...what did I do for this to happen to me? Why?
Larry Crabb states that sometimes life requires that we hurt and in our anguish abandon ourselves to God. In this troubled journey of shattered dreams we discover a desire for Him that is stronger than all other desires a bigger dream than what we could dream for ourselves.
You see on this journey the masterpiece is the man or woman who rather prefers to live elsewhere, who finds no deep joy in the good things of this life. The one whose desire here is to prepare to meet Him there. Jesus tell us to not let our hearts be troubled because He goes to prepare a place for us. The Jewish Engagement Custom helps us to understand this better. In this world, in times of trouble what is God doing? What should we be doing?
When a first-century Jewish man fell in love with a woman, he would travel to her home to seal the engagement. The engagement wasn't a "trial" period in which counsel would help the couple decide whether to continue on our break it off. It was like a legal contract, complete with a price paid by the groom to set the woman apart exclusively for him. They were immediately regarded as man and wife. There was a small ceremony and then the groom would return to his father's house for a period of 12 months.
The bride and groom would not see eachother during the 12 month period. Thebride had but one job - to prepare herself for her grooms' coming and for the rest of her life with him. All other activities revolved around that one ruling purpose. And while she waited she knew what the groom was doing. He was spending the year adding an apartment to his father's home in which they would live together. An honorable man would have an eye for no other woman and would not rest until preparations were made for them to be united. His bride would rest, secure in the knowledge that all the bridegroom's energies were directed toward their being together.
When the engagement year ended, at an exact day and hour that the bride did not know, the groom would gather his wedding party and, in a torch-lit procession, travel to where his bride was living. His arrival would be preceded by a shout from one of his friends, alerting the woman that her groom was arriving. And she was ready. She had no greater dream than his coming and was confident he would arrive to take her to be with him in the home he had prepared.
As I read about this custom I again found clarity in my purpose here on earth. To prepare and not let my heart be troubled. I'll close with an exerp from the book. I am listening for the shout!
With that custom in mind, as it was in the minds of the disciples, perhaps we can better hear what our Lord means when he tells us to live now with untroubled hearts.
"I know things are not now as you want them. I know many of your dreams are not coming true. I want you to understand that things are not as I will one day make them. I like neither the distance between us nor the pain you suffer.
Until I come to bring you to My Father's house, I am devoting Myself to only one thing: I am preparing a place for you. And My Spirit, on My behalf, is devoting Himself to only one thing - preparing you to enjoy Me and all that I will provide.
I have called you not to a secular journey in life where you must make everything in your life now as pleasant as possible. I have called you to the spiritual journey, to a process of enlarging your heart to desire Me above everything else.
Do not be troubled by all the dreams that will shatter while you remain on earth. You will feel deep pain. But every sorrow you experience will be used by My Spirit to deepen your desire for Me.
He will speak to you about Me. Listen for the voice. You will hear Him most clearly when suffering humbles you enough to want to hear Him, to know you cannot go on without hearing Him. This time of distance, when you feel such disappointment both with your life and with yourself, will awaken your heart to receive Me with great joy when I finally come. I will not delay. I will come at exactly the appointed time. My Father will give the signal. Listen for the shout."