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Entries in Lessons from Joseph (2)

Monday
Mar142016

Time to Dream Again

“I have a dream…”

Those powerful words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never cease to stir me. I hear his iconic voice reverberating with passion and remember his dedication to that dream in the face of terrible injustice. And yet I wonder if I really understand the meaning of those words. Am I living with purpose? Is there something that compels me, something within me that ignites my imagination and stirs my willingness to face hardship and persecution? Do I have a dream?

I remember as a teenager being asked that question. It seemed that nearly everyone had plans and dreams for their future, and everyone else wanted to know mine. But at that time in my life, I didn’t have a dream; I was just trying to survive. Eventually, though, those questions began to rise back up in my spirit.

I began to remember.

I remembered what it was like to dream as a child. Sitting at the top of my swing set at dusk, I’d watch in awe as God drew the curtains of day once more. I remembered how natural it was to fellowship with Him, how big and capable He made me feel and yet how small I was.

And I began to dream.

I dreamed that God would restore the years that the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25)…that one day, I would love and trust someone without hesitation or fear. I dreamed that in spite of what happened to me, I would walk out of those nightmares and into my future with confidence and peace. I dreamed of becoming a wife and mother who could function as God intended.

Now here I am, fifteen years later. God has fulfilled all those dreams. I have a wonderful husband, in whom I see God’s character and who still amazes me with his gentleness and wisdom. I have three beautiful children whom we are raising in the “training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, New International Version). And I walk in His confidence and peace—the nightmares are but a fleeting memory—with scars that are nearly undiscernible.

I was listening to Andrew’s teaching on Lessons from Joseph recently and felt God stirring me again. Andrew said,

God has a purpose for every one of you. It’s not up to you to pick and choose what you want to do; God has a design on your life. You can’t just do your own thing and ask God to bless it. You’ve got to find out what God’s purpose for your life is. Your talents, your skills, where you live, the time that you were born, everything about you was created by God. It was designed for a specific purpose.

I know that the things I dreamed were part of God’s plan for me. Being a godly wife and mother are high callings that I will not trample. But I also know that’s not the extent of His purpose for my life. He has made me an overcomer (1 John 5:3-5), and it’s time to start dreaming again!

Share a comment below if this has blessed you.

Monday
Feb292016

Stay in the Ring

My heart was pounding as I watched the competitors exit the ring, most limping or bleeding. Whistles pierced the air as people filled the arena with cheers and shouting. A big, red cross hung over the medical station, guiding those who needed post-match patching up. “I’m not so sure about this,” I said to my husband.

“He’ll be fine,” he replied with smooth assurance.

When my boys were young, they were given the unique opportunity of training under a former U.S. Olympic taekwondo coach. This was my youngest son’s first tournament, and he had chosen to compete in the sparring event. As he put on his helmet and protective padding, he entered the ring with a kid who was twice his size. The scowl on that kid was enough to make me want to run down and snatch my son out of there! With one blow of a whistle, the match began, and with great intensity, the big kid immediately delivered a roundhouse kick to the back of my son’s leg, sending him to the mat. As he lay there, my husband yelled from the sidelines, “You’re okay! Get up and keep going!”

As the match continued, my son got in a few good kicks and blocks, but overall, he was being pummeled by the giant. The whistle blew, and the first round was over. He came to the edge of the ring for water and a quick rest. “I can’t do this,” he said.

“Don’t give up,” his father encouraged him. “This is what you’ve trained for. You can do this!”

Sometimes when you’re pursuing the vision God has put in your heart, it feels like you’re in the ring with a giant—getting pummeled. It can be tempting to leave the ring and all of its challenges. But you need to remember that you have a Father right outside the ring, saying, “Don’t give up. You can do this!” He knows that perseverance is the key to unlocking the doors He has for you.

In his Lessons from Joseph teaching, Andrew says,

If you never get out on a limb, you’ll never bear fruit. God doesn’t want you to be a trunk hugger. He wants you out on the limb, blowing in the breeze…where it’s a little scary—because that’s where the fruit grows. You [may] have the temptation to quit and to give up and to just say, “What’s the use? I tried.” God [will enable you] to stand…when it looks like nothing is working. (brackets added)

After many challenges and five years of training, my son earned his first-degree black belt. I still remember the day when his coach tied the belt on for the first time. He had won the prize and finished the race. I saw a different person than the boy who had felt defeated in the ring. He had come to believe he could accomplish anything, knowing that anything worth having is never easy to obtain.

Andrew continues,

If you are going to really succeed, you are going to have to get to a place to where you can see yourself succeeding when everything in the natural looks contrary. You’ve got to stay diligent. If you are going to see God use you, you are going to have to look beyond your physical circumstances and see things by faith.

To learn more about Joseph’s life as an example for your own Christian walk, check out Andrew’s Lessons from Joseph teaching.

When God gives you a dream and a vision, it doesn’t matter if things go perfectly along the way. What matters is that you choose to stay in the ring.

If this has inspired you, please post a comment below.