Seasons Change And Dreams Never Die

Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Rewind the tape to 1985…

I was 18 years old. Fresh out of high school and attending Mercer University in Macon, Ga. I was a young adult who had neither direction nor discipline. I lived for only two things at the time. Drunkenness and drugs. As a commuter, I spent the morning drive getting high. In between classes I snuck off to take a few more hits. My lunch break? Lost in a cloud of smoke out in the parking lot. As soon as my last class ended I dashed to the liquor store and spent the entire evening in a drunken daze until either the whiskey ran out or I passed out. After 2 semesters I dropped out of Mercer and left home. Went off to a private Methodist college where I managed to get expelled for fighting. The next 3 years of my life were a season of personal destruction. The pain and the regrets of wasted opportunities haunted my every day. I sank deeper and deeper into despair, disappointment and chemical dependency.

Fast forward to 1994…

I am 28 years old. My family and I have just returned from Argentina where we were working as missionary assistants. Now, I have direction. My discipline has improved but there is still room for growth. I am determined that I will finish what I failed to complete when I was 18. I return to college. This time I enroll at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, MN. I attend class in the mornings. I volunteer at a church in the afternoons. And I work at night. The only time I really see my wife and daughter? In the early morning right before I head to class. But I am back in school. The dream is being realized.

But then God interrupts my plans. He asks me to lay down my job and my dream in order to work full-time at the church. The job? No problem. But school? Not school. It took me ten years to get back. And so, I fight against God. I try to stay in school but I am miserable. No joy. No peace. In the end God wins and I give up the dream. Once and for all, I abandon college for the divine call. Gladly? No. Willingly? Not really. But I follow the Spirit’s leading in obedience. I do it. I spend the next 15 years of my life working in the ghetto. As the years pass the dreams of college begin to fade. They lose their luster and appeal. I find purpose in selfless service, in sacrificing for the benefit of others. I discover that God gives back to me far, far more than I will ever give up for Him.

Fast forward to 2011…

I am back in Middle Georgia. After 10 years in Miami, at the very moment when all the years of difficult labor were seemingly beginning to show fruit, God asked us to resign and return home. I thought (actually I hoped) we would only be in here in “transit.” For 3 long years I keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. But the bush that burned so brightly in my youth refuses to reignite. His voice is clearer now than at any other season but He remains silent regarding my future. I get a secular job. I work. I live. And I wait. For the first time in my life I truly understand the value of discipline. But now I find myself once again without direction. This current season proves to be the most challenging one of my life.

But then He speaks, “I have positioned you. Now, I want to prepare you. What you were is not who you will be. I am going to reinvent you.” With one word He showed me the path for this present season. None of my circumstances changed. Same job. Same daily routine. Same responsibilities. But everything within me changed. I felt life once again. Hope had been renewed. I had not been discarded or cast aside. Yes, the path had certainly changed but the Lord still had a plan for me. It was beyond anything I had ever imagined possible. Not at this point in my life. Not at this juncture in the journey. But the God who gave the dream had now become the God who fulfills the dream.

Fast forward the tape one last time…

It’s January 10, 2012. That’s today. At 10:50 this morning I sat down in a desk at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. After 27 long, long years, at 44 years of age, the divine path led me back to college. Because of my past experience I have no core class requirements. I start on my business major today. Accounting. Computer Science. Intro to Management. Intro to Marketing. The dream I gave up for lost? God has graciously restored it to me. Hope has been fulfilled. And let me tell you… it is indeed a tree of life. Full of life.

I want to encourage you this morning to hang in there. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Over the last 20 years I have learned many things. But here lately I have been reminded of two very important truths. Seasons change and dreams never die. Especially when they come from God. In every season He remains faithful. He will not fail you because He cannot fail His word. If God gave you the dream, He will fulfill it. It might not be according to your original timeline but He will fulfill it. At the right time. At the perfect time. According to His time. He will fulfill the dream.