I have always been a dreamer. Daydreamer, night dreamer, fantasizer, visionary… call it what you want, but I am always dreaming up something that could still happen. Something bigger than what’s in front of me. Somewhere else I could still explore. Someone else I could still meet. Something else I could still experience.
When I was in college, I dreamed all sorts of dreams. And there’s something about those years that feel so invincible, you’re just certain that all of it is going to happen. I was going to spend my early post-college years traveling. I wanted to see parts of Europe I’d never seen. I wanted to go to New Zealand on my own Bilbo Baggins-esque adventure. I wanted to go to South America and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
I didn’t care if anyone joined me — I was going to explore places I’d never been. I wanted to get lost in uncharted territory. I wanted to meet strangers and hear the sounds, smell the smells, and taste the tastes of cultures unknown to me.
I’d eventually move back to Nashville and chase a dream of starting a publication I’d been dreaming about for years, live with friends and work whatever part-time job I had to work to keep writing and see this one particular dream come true. I would one day write a best seller or two, and continue to travel, speaking to thousands.
Then something happens as you get older. Life happens, I suppose. I fell in love with my best friend and I put on a white dress on a really hot day in June, gathered all the people I love the most and threw a huge party in a field as we said “I do.” And then we began a whole different adventure together.
He’s a dreamer, too, and his dreams were taking him to Texas and eventually somewhere else to plant a church, and so I jumped on board and here we are two years later, dreaming of our future together. We’re dreaming of revival in Utah, we’re dreaming of raising a family of little church planters, we’re dreaming of the adventures we want to go on together one day.
I’m learning in these years of my life that God is really into interrupting my plans. But here’s the thing about those interruptions: we tend to believe a lie that He wants to come in and take our big dreams and drag us back down to reality, forcing on us a more “realistic” future. I tend to think that surely God, the creator of fun, can’t actually have a more fun, more outrageous, more wild and exciting adventure for me than the one I’d planned for myself?
But you know what this season of my life is teaching me? His way is so much better. His reality is so much bigger than my reality, so “dragging me down to reality” isn’t what He’s doing. He’s pulling me up to a better one. The one He made for me. The one I could never even scratch the surface of if I didn’t live a life yielded to His will.
In the fall of my junior year of college, one of my roommates’ friends had just gotten back from the World Race. He’d spent a year traveling, sharing the gospel and loving on people all over the world. He was kind of being a nomad for a few weeks, visiting old friends, and he crashed on our couch for a week or so.
Noland and I were dating at the time, and we were in that “I never want to be away from you” stage, so I was hardly home, and I didn’t really get to know this guy much while he was staying at our house. But when he left a week or two later, he left me a letter. It was just a little something he’d felt like God was highlighting about me when he was praying one morning, and he wanted to share it with me.
Three and a half years later, I still have that letter, and I found it in a box just yesterday when I was looking for something else. I stood jaw-dropped and misty eyed in my living room as I read through it, realizing how true these words from God were for the years of my life that would follow my receiving this letter.
He said he pictured a waterfall as he prayed for me, falling right in the middle of an open plain, a place where a waterfall has no business being but it’s there anyway. He said he felt like God was speaking to the fact that my voice is going to come with power to bring change and new life to the most unlikely places.
He said he pictured me standing there next to it, wearing combat boots. I laughed at this because my favorite pair of boots are the combat boots Noland got me for Christmas last year. He said the boots reminded him of the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6. “And as shoes for your feet, put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
He said he kept hearing the phrase, “Share the message. Share my love.” And as I read these words again yesterday tears streamed down my face, because there was that sweet, thoughtful God of mine, still speaking into the deepest dreams on my heart of the stories I want to tell one day.
And in the last few years, God has been putting all the puzzle pieces together, slowly laying the cobblestone path of life that Noland and I stroll down together, enjoying His presence and enjoying each other, and letting Him show us the way.
I never could have known how it all would have played out from then until now. That God would invite us to plant the waterfall of life that is His Church right in the middle of a desert valley, Salt Lake City, Utah. That He would even be so silly and thoughtful as to get me a pair of combat boots that I love, a reminder every time I put them on that He has planted my feet firmly in the gospel of peace, ready for whatever is next, armed with all that He’s been building in me in these years of walking with Him.
He’s been teaching me this year about how to dream with Him. He’s put dreams on my heart that weren’t there before, and He’s invited me in to fight for them alongside Him. And yesterday, revisiting this letter from college, He reminded me that it’s worth it. That the promises He speaks forth are true, and that His way is perfect, and that it won’t look the way I thought it would, but it will be so much better. So much more complete. So much more whole.
It will still be an adventure. I’ll still see places I’ve never seen and go places I’ve never gone. I’ll do it here in my physical being, and I’ll do it in the spirit, too. That’s the thing about walking with God. We enter a whole other dimension of reality, and our adventures are multiplied.
And you know, I still believe in all those same dreams I mentioned earlier. I believe in the promise of what God wants to do with me as a storyteller. I believe in the dream of the publication I’ve wanted to start for years. I believe He holds those dreams in His hands and He knows exactly how, when, and where they’ll come to fruition. He knows. He’s God. All I have to do is keep saying yes.
Thank you, God, that your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts higher than my thoughts. Thank you that your word goes out from your mouth like rain that covers the earth, not returning void but watering what you’ve planted and bringing forth life, and that it will accomplish all of that which you’ve purposed. [Isaiah 55:8-11]
Thank you that your way is perfect and your word is true. Thank you that you equip me with strength, and set my feet secure on the heights with you. Thank you that you train my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. That your word proves true and it’s a shield for all those who take refuge in you. [Psalm 18:30-34]
Let me be a dreamer of your dreams. A heart yielded to your will. A life given to whatever you lay before me. It’s just worth it.