Last week I received an update from a friend who is still chasing a dream to begin a charter school. She has worked incredibly hard over the past few years despite numerous setbacks and delays. Last I’d heard from her, one of the most difficult obstacles had finally been overcome. It was time. Everything was about to come together. Despite all our hopes however, it did not. So once again the page reads “one more year”. In the face of further delay, she has chosen to find work this year while continuing to lay the groundwork for the school to come.
Reading her letter, I found myself empathetic to her struggle but also encouraged by her determination and perseverance. She continues to hope for both the future and the present, and she is still chasing her dream. I wanted to thank her for that gift, so I replied. I hoped to encourage her as she encouraged me and offer prayer and hope for God to provide the exact type of position she sought. It was here that these four words crept into my mind, “even if He doesn’t”. I deleted them almost immediately. Those words startled me, but as I thought them through I began to understand their importance. There are simply no guarantees. We can trust that God will be with us. We can trust that He will meet our needs. Outside of that, we just don’t know. Even this school that she’s worked so hard to begin might not come to be. That thought is heartbreaking, but the possibility exists. And if that happens, what of all the effort? What of the blood, sweat and tears invested toward the dream? Does it have any value?
The answer is yes. It does.
I am reminded of the opening scene in Pixar’s UP. Two young adventurers find love and a common dream. A dream they spend their life chasing together. But time after time life gets in the way of their dream until time runs out and his wife passes away. She never reaches their destination. She never sees their dream realized. It’s heartbreaking, but as we watch their life unfold I don’t think any of us would say those years were without meaning or value. Sadly, in the face of things like that in my own life, that’s exactly what I’m sometimes tempted to believe. It’s as if the only value is found in reaching the destination.
Slowly the lesson is hitting home. Life is a journey, and life with God is a journey with God. Every day and every decision matters not because of where it takes us, but for all that is being created in us. We grow. We grow as individuals. We grow in our relationship with others. We grow in our relationship with God. All the while, our life bears testimony to all those around us looking in. Even if they don’t see us living our dream in the wilds of South America, they see our determination. They see our perseverance. They see our heartbreak, our struggles and our tears, but they also see our joy, our successes and our hope. And much as we watch the story of Carl Fredricksen and his wife in UP, they watch our story, and as they cry with us, rejoice with us, and hope with us, we all grow closer to one another and to God.
So where there are dreams I will trust that “even if He doesn’t…”, I will find blessing and hope in living and knowing Him. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t hope that He does!