Giver Of The Dream

Is. 40.30 (NIV)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
How do you deal with failure?
God speaks in the moment and He is more interested in communicating to me, than I am interested in listening.  So, when we started our support of our Christian brothers and sisters in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa I believed God had spoken.  I like to think I hear from the Lord fairly clearly, but time would cause me to question myself. 
We started by connecting with the churches, and eventually they asked us to help them do something to empower their people.  They sought to find a way to capitalize on their tree nut crops by helping them process nuts, package and sell them, creating jobs and resources for the churches.  It was a noble goal to say the least, and we had a lot of people who cheered us on and gave sacrificially to help us accomplish it.  We trusted that it was the Lord, so after five years, we launched the cashew project with everything we had.  No matter how much our supporters helped, the sacrifice required on the part of those who went, who led and managed, who planned, and who coordinated in the field, was beyond calculation.   Over the next ten years our dream had been subject to the harsh reality of things we could not control.  The global economy was flat. We had survived more than 12 illegal transitions of government in country, both violent and peaceful.  We sought to work in a country with a government that publicly supported the work we were doing, but behind the scenes used arcane licensure requirements to limit our ability to bring product to market.
When we finally accepted that the risks were just too great, we moved across the border into Senegal.  We invested in a packing plant. Then, due to our own inexperience, we trusted good intentions and failed to obtain enough raw product to succeed.  By 2010 it became painfully clear that we weren’t going to be able to do it.  The only success we had was in the lives of people we helped, but at that time it wasn’t as encouraging as it should have been.  Many came to know Jesus.  Lives within and outside the church were changed.  We were even able to be the source of life saving treatment to more people than I can count.  We inspired the church to do cutting edge church planting and economic ventures that are still in operation today.   Our dream, however, of creating small businesses vanished. No matter how much preparation God had done to soften the blow, my own perspective was that I had failed… failed myself… failed God… failed the people in country… failed my staff… failed the dream.
A few days ago I found myself talking to a man who had, at one time, been a pastor.  And he asked, “So what is your vision for The Lighthouse.”  The answer was more complex than I wanted to discuss.  If my soul had eyes they were rolling at that moment.  “Mike, you have to paint a picture so that everyone can see and understand.”  Seriously?   Yeah, I get that.   So now do I talk about Abraham’s questioning God?  Do we talk about Jacob’s frustration with Laban or Job’s loss?  How about Peter’s renouncing his faith in Jesus?  God doesn’t seem to have a problem allowing things falling a part at times.  The Apostle Paul said it best, “when I am weak then I am strong”, because the Lord says, “My power  is made perfect in weakness.”  How do you know if God has plan for your life?  Check your pulse… yup…If you have pulse, there’s a plan.
The Lord’s objective is being a part of what’s happening in our lives, and our being a part of what he’s doing.  So when our dream becomes a goal unto itself it’s really expendable.  There is a very short way back to what’s most important if you’ve fallen pray to your dreams.  It’s asking the Lord to help you see things from a better perspective.  The psalmist said, “unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain.”  So when we talk about “the vision” from now on, everything has to start with the premise that Jesus is the vision.  Jesus is the reason.  Joy that comes from doing stuff without Jesus as the center is hollow. Success isn’t always accomplishing objectives.  Success is to go anywhere and do anything Jesus wants… because he wants us to… and finding Him there.  Period.

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