A while back two lines of thinking, influenced by two different books, collided in my head and heart. One book was Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life” (one of the best and most practical books I’ve read in years). The other was the Bible (the best and most practical book of all-time).
In his book Miller says that we all have huge hopes and dreams for ourselves, our relationships, and our world (upward curve on the chart). Yet what we see on a daily basis is the dim reality of sorrow, pain, hopelessness, and brokenness (the baseline on the chart). According to Miller our tendency in the face of unrealized hopes and dreams is either to try to reach down and pull reality up to the level of our hopes by sheer determination…or to give up hope altogether.
That really resonated with me, because I tend to vacillate between those two extremes…and so did so many of our Biblical mothers and Fathers. You see it the lives of people like Abraham in Genesis 22 or Jacob in Genesis 32 or Thomas in John 20 or the Syro-phonecian woman in Mark 7.
So what can we learn from them? Where did they end up? Well, they, like so many other men and women of faith chose a third option. They chose not to be crushed by taking the weight of the world upon their own shoulders. And they chose not to give up on hope and give in to cynicism. Instead, taking their hopes and dreams in one hand and a firm grasp of reality in the other, they wrapped their arms around Jesus and held on tight. And as they determined not to let Him go, they found themselves transformed.
As they “wrestled with God” they found that not only did they get to bring their fears and struggles to him, but that He got to question them, uproot sin in their lives, and form them more and more into the people He had designed them to be.
One day, in this world or in the new heavens and new earth, reality will connect with our deepest hopes and dreams…the two will come together in a most glorious way as all things will be made right. Until then, the gap between hope and reality is all the fuel we need to run to our Lord in prayer!