This is the story of wounded pride. Feared rejection. A deferred dream. And a God who cares more about who I AM than what I DO.
If you follow my blog, you know that my heart was heavily burdened when I volunteered to help with a summer lunch program for underprivileged children at my church last year. As I worked through writing and teaching my Isaiah 58 study over the winter, a dream was birthed that I felt could meet some of the needs I saw last summer.
This dream was big. It would involve a lot of work on my part and a lot of volunteers. But I could already envision the fruit that would come from it. The relationships built. The lives changed.
As I prayed about it, I felt that I needed to take the next step and share my dream with those in charge of this program. You would think this would be an easy task. But as it turned out – and this was just to get permission to share my plan – I asked one person who told me to ask another, who told me to ask another, who told me he wasn’t the person to talk to either. Then I asked another person who to talk to, which I did, but that person told me to ask another.
At this point, I was ready to assume this was my sign that I wasn’t to pursue this any longer. But as I was praying, I felt God impress on me, “You’re going to quit on this just because you’ve run into some roadblocks? Think about why you’re doing this. It’s for the kids. Isn’t this worth doing some extra work to get past these hurdles?”
I ended up finally obtaining the blessing from the team in charge of this project so my next step was to enlist volunteers. I sent a hopeful email to over a dozen people that I thought would be interested in helping. I shared my dream, my goals, and my plan, expectantly anticipating an eager group of people excitedly ready to jump on board.
I received few replies and two volunteers.
I just wanted to delete all traces of that email. I wanted to rewind and take back my plan to everyone I risked sharing it to. I felt like tucking my tail, taking my ball, and going home, never to enter the outside world again.
You think I’m just being dramatic.
But that’s what fear of rejection will do to a person. I can’t count the times I wanted to give up on this idea. It was too risky. What if I was perceived as that person with all the crazy, hair-brained ideas that someone had to gently break the news to that it wouldn’t work? What if someone remembered all my other ideas that never seemed to take off? I would be the girl who cried “wolf’ in the form of “I have a dream!” never to be taken seriously again.
Shortly afterward, I typed in an email to a friend, I never felt convinced that God wanted this project to happen this year. I only felt convinced that I was to take the next step.
Why, though? Why would I go this far only to fall on my face with this dream?
I think… because God wanted me to obey step by step, despite the risk of rejection. I think he wanted me to be content in following him, even if I followed him to a life lesson and nothing else.
My life lesson was to magnify how much I worship at the feet of others’ approval. It was meant to lead me to repentance and to remind me that I am to follow my Shepherd’s voice wherever that may take me, even if it takes me down a different path than I would have hoped.
Do you have a dream? One that perhaps few even know about? Do you keep it tucked quietly for fear of rejection? For fear of what others might think?
I wonder how many Kingdom dreams have died at the feet of the enemy, who convinces people that their work might be criticized or rejected. Fear has a way of carrying God-planted dreams into dark corners, while the Accuser hisses a single, debilitating word: Coward. Heart thumping, you remember how you’ve failed before. You remind yourself of your false starts. Fearful of repeated failure, you tame your marvelously delicious dreams. After a while, you forget that you had those dreams in the first place. — Jennifer Dukes Lee, Love Idol
If God has placed a dream on our hearts, our only godly response is obedience. This obedience doesn’t promise that the dream will grow to full potential. In fact, it may never get off the ground. But if it’s a God-dream, we know it has a purpose. The purpose may be for our own sanctification. Or it may be for a myriad of other reasons. Or with the Spirit guiding us, it may grow bigger than we ever imagined.
Whatever the outcome of that pursued dream, as long as we’re walking in obedience, it’s a success.