I’ve been listening again and again to the Rend Collective album ‘The Art of Celebration’ over the past week.
‘We were born for greater things
We were born to chase Your dreams
Come my Lord, awaken holy fire.
We are turning from our sin
We are praying once again
Come my Lord, awaken holy fire.
We are aching for the real thing
Hearts are open wide.’
Deep inside I am ‘aching for the real thing’. I want meaning and purpose and connection, and I want to see the Kingdom come and I want life to be bigger and brighter. In another song they sing, ‘You made us for much more than this’, and when I sing it every part of me shouts “Yes. I am made for more than this“. I somehow think that I will know that I am living the life God wants me to live when it’s a recognisably deeper, fuller, firework-blazing life.
….but I can’t be there yet because my life feels very small. And full of un-great things.
The parameters of my life have shrunk in the last few months due to the health problems faced by one of my children. It’s hard. I ask God ‘How do I ‘chase Your dreams’ and find ‘the real thing’ when I’m at home every day feeling demotivated and exhausted?’
But what if what I am doing right now with my life is the real thing? What if I am actually chasing God’s dreams in this small space?
I heard a preacher on the radio talk about how it really doesn’t matter what we do – what job we take, or what subject we study; where we live or who we are with. The externals merely shape our surroundings.
The reason it doesn’t matter, is because the really important task of our lives is to become more like Jesus – to love more, to show more grace, to learn to forgive, to walk alongside those who are hurt or in pain or in need.
All of us can do all of those things whoever and wherever we are.
Today I read in my bible these verses from Isaiah 58:
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed , then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
It hit me out of the blue. I am living, every day, the kind of offering God wants. Whether I am offering it to him as a gift is another matter, but I am daily resisting the selfish urges to turn away from the demands placed on me by my family. I am spending myself on behalf of one oppressed, not by other people, but by pain and illness.
God wants people who will do what I’m already doing. I didn’t choose it, I can’t say that I read these verses and decided to commit my life to serving the oppressed and not turning my back on my family, but I have told God that I want to love Him, and I have been placed right in the midst of these opportunities.
At the weekend I talked with another mother of children facing huge challenges, and we affirmed each other – we told each other that we were doing a good job, that we were raising pretty wonderful humans, and that our God is a God of power and strength who will be with us through everything.
And when I read these verses this morning I wanted to call her up and say, ‘Hey, do you know what else we are doing ? We are chasing His dreams. We are getting the real thing. It’s been given to us. It’s a gift. We’re learning to love well. We’re trying to lift the oppression off those who have been trusted to our care. We’re worn out because of love.”
This is holy fire. It burns and it refines. Its heat removes the layers of dirt that cling to us. It’s painful but it’s good.
So today I celebrate that I’ve been given just a glimpse of the eternal perspective. That at this moment I can see my life, and the lives of those whom I love, with the eyes of God, rather than with my earthly, affluent, aspirational, driven, western eyes.
I want to love well. I want to raise children who will love well.
I’m chasing the dreams that are in the heart of God.