Have you had a dream crushing moment? One where you question everything you thought you knew and wondered if you ever heard God at all? Well, if you haven’t, you probably will. I don’t mean to be negative, it’s just that every dream worth dreaming has to be defined at some point. You have to know what your resolve is, what you have left to learn, who you should be aligned with (or not aligned with), etc., etc... and these defining moments are almost never pleasant. They come at what seems to be the worst time, when things are critical, and hopes are pinned on a certain outcome. And... I’m sorry to say it... they come from God himself. Whaaat?? Why is God doing this to you? Is it to trip you up to see if you’re worthy of the dream? Is He testing you to see if He should take this all away from you and give it to someone better than you? Teaching you a lesson about being more devout, or trustworthy? NO. If you have a dream that is being put to the test, know that God designed you for this calling from birth, and it is your calling to fulfill. He desires to bring things to fruition in His perfect timing, in conjunction with you as His partner. If there are things that need to be refined with a purifying fire, He will be faithful to bring the flames. That doesn’t mean He wants to incinerate your plans... He wants to make your plans perfect. And the only way to know that your work is consecrated, is to witness the process first hand.
Take Peter, for example. He walked with the Lord, heard his vocation straight from the mouth of God himself (in person, even!), and did miracles with his own hands. Then, when Christ’s promises were fulfilled on the cross, and the time to walk in his calling was upon him, Peter... went back to being a fisherman. You see, Jesus was dead, and Peter had failed Christ, and so clearly it was time to hang his head in shame and go back to making money as a fisherman like he did before. He was obviously unfit for the grand calling God had placed on him, and he needed to go back to being old, pre-dream Peter.
It all started in Jerusalem the last week of Jesus’ life. Jesus says he must be betrayed, and Peter declares he will use his own strength to keep this from happening (Matthew 16:22). Peter understood his role was to make sure the word about Jesus was spread, and that he would be the one to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ. The only way he knew how to do this was to protect Jesus with his physical strength. He was going to do this come hell or high water, and no one was going to tell him any different. So, Jesus tells him to get a sword (Luke 22:36-38). Then, while Jesus is praying his last prayer as a free man, Peter falls asleep on watch. When the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, Peter rises up and strikes the ear off a servant. Not a death blow to a soldier, but the ear of a servant. A silly attempt to display the depth of his love and commitment, results in Jesus having to pick up the man’s ear off the ground, and stick it back on. Then, the shame of it all... Jesus tells Peter to put away the sword, because Peter can’t see that this was all important to fulfilling prophecy (John 18:11). Two massive, humiliating failures in a matter of hours. Now, Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the sun came up the next day... all he had to do was keep his mouth shut for the next few hours. He failed at that, too, and the shame was catastopic. Best to give it all up and just go fish like all the other men who lived in ignorant bliss to the grand heights and crushing lows of kingdom ministry.
It was after Peter had been wallowing in shame and grief for a time, that Jesus appeared to Peter. Jesus made Peter a nice fish dinner, and then asked him 3 times, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter at first was sad Jesus had to ask 3 times, but then realized, “I DO love you! More than my shame and embarrassment, more than my grief and pride, more than my life... I LOVE YOU!” Then Peter was ready to throw off the things that bound him from acting on his calling and move into the radical life of freedom Jesus was preparing him for. And this time, it would be as a partner to Christ, not as a bodyguard or soldier.
The greater the mission, the more crucial the test. If your calling is great, the test will rise to meet it. Your job is to ride the wave of the test, and cultivate gratitude that this refining moment is making you ready for all the things you have yet to understand. The outcome of trial is faith, perseverance, wisdom, and clarity. In moments of confusion and fear, realize that the outcome is worth the ride, and put your hope in the One who has called you out of darkness. He is faithful to see you through to the end, and doesn’t give up on you, or the hope to which you have been called.