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A Shattered Dream Isn’t the End

A fairy princess? A queen? Those may be some of the typical titles that little girls aspire to, but that wasn’t me.

Believe it or not, my dream was to become a “physical therapist missionary in Africa”. That childhood aspiration pointed to my early interest in the field of rehabilitation, but also, my belief that I needed an exciting or even unusual life in order to be useful to God.

I felt a little adrenaline rush from stories like Daniel in the lion’s den and accounts of modern, brave missionaries meeting jungle tribes. “Wow”, I’d think, “God can only work through super-Christians like them.” My life, on the other hand, often felt too pleasant and ordinary to be of use to God.

It’s true that being willing to risk losing your own comforts, reputation, and safety for the sake of Jesus can be a precious gift that yields extraordinary returns. But what about the more or less mundane lives that many of us have? Can a mostly-ordinary life be of use to God too?

My plan to become a physical therapist missionary changed slightly over the years, but even through graduate school, I remained committed to the hope of one day joining a team of rehabilitation therapists. I intentionally made sacrifices for my educational goals, fully expecting my chosen priorities to result in a life well-spent. Despite my goal-oriented and focused quest, an unforeseen event caused my life to go in a wildly different direction.

Up till about five years ago, I had subconsciously visualized what a self-sacrificial and well-spent life dedicated to helping whomever God set in front of me would be like. I expected my years of sacrificing sleep for exam-prep to open doors to an exciting and useful life.

Then I got into a near-fatal car accident.

Instead of becoming a licensed provider, I was the recipient. And instead of caring for those in need of therapeutic intervention, I had to humbly receive it.

Now, having completed years of focused rehabilitation, my life is back to normal, even mundane, and is far from what I had anticipated. But I am encouraged by the many stories in the Bible of those whose lives took dramatic turns away from their plans, and were eventually used by God in ways beyond their imagination. For example, we usually marvel at the disciples’ experiences and their years of intimate interactions with the Savior, but even their lives weren’t always so interesting!

Peter, a disciple of Jesus who later became a pillar of the church, spent his early career as a simple fisherman. Although we’re not told about these quieter years in Peter’s life, surely they were still purposeful in preparing him for his great calling. Even the young woman Mary, who became the mother of Jesus, may have felt somewhat insignificant going about her day-to-day schedule, unaware of the great honor about to be given her. And going further back in Biblical history, the story of Abraham is recorded. While he would become the “Father of many nations”, there was a time when Abraham and his elderly wife didn’t even think they could have a child.

As many other Biblical and historical accounts prove, our God loves to work magnificently through the weak and the most unlikely of circumstances.

I’m not making predictions about my future career, but I’m in awe of what God has already accomplished through the hardest time in my life. I am still amazed by all the chances I’ve been given to speak and write about the clinical and spiritual applications of what I’ve learned. I still aim to return to the world of clinical rehabilitation and believe I have a unique perspective to offer that community. But I have grown to recognize my current reality as valuable, too.

So let’s not minimize the miracles God can accomplish during a relaxed coffee date or a quiet hour of reading. While His work may certainly include adrenaline pumping, dramatic conversions, He is not limited to the stories we would label as thrilling. However quiet your life may seem right now, please don’t underestimate the eternity altering potential of your current journey.

Inspiration. Dreams. Passion

Title: Inspiration. Dreams. Passion
Materials: Pencil Drawings
Description: What inspires you? How are these inspirations influencing your goals and dreams? What can you do this week to invite God to be a part of your dreams?
Contributed By: Brothers Ink

 

Inspiration

Get Inspired: What causes, issues, and interests do you find yourself coming back to over and over again? Make a list of these things and reflect on how God may be calling you to use them.

 

 

Dreams

Dare to dream big: Involve God in the process and listen for His guidance. Pray over your list of dreams and goals. God will reveal the path meant for you as you dive into His Word and watch for His leading.

 

 

Passion

Fuel your passion: Share your dreams and goals with trusted friends, family, or mentors — seeking wise counsel and building community with your fellow dreamers. Talk to your loving Father for guidance and relationships that keep your eyes focused on your unique purpose.

 

 

 

Artist Feature | Brothers Ink

Brothers-ink---Photo-


Brothers Ink is made up of three people: Julian and Oscar
Ramírez (we’re brothers) – and our friend, Gabriela Monroy. Growing up, we’ve all shared the same passion for art and creativity, and we each have personal stories of how God met us at our lowest points. Now, we want to tell others about God and show that He is real and that He exists.  

We hope to be relevant in today’s secular world – not boring or cliche. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we want our art to convey that everything in life comes from God. Everything we do is because of Him, through Him, and for Him.

Oscar Ramírez: I’m an illustrator and photographer from Colombia, studying graphic design. I first encountered God at the age of 9 when a relative brought me to church. My relationship with God started during the period my parents were going through a divorce.  

Julián Ramírez: I’m an illustrator, and graphic and web designer from Colombia. I became a Christian at 16 when my younger brother, Oscar, shared with me about his own relationship with God. At the time, I was struggling with drugs and alcohol and was drawn into church when Oscar shared with me about God being his superhero.

Gabriela Monroy: I live in New York City and am a close friend of both Oscar and Julian. My relationship with God began at the worst time of my  life six years ago when my grandmother died in a tragic car accident. In my depressed state, God met me and showed me His love and joy.

Why I Cried Over A Dream

It was still fresh in my mind when I woke up that morning. It wasn’t a bad or sad dream. In fact, it was one of the sweetest dreams I’ve had in a while.

I was sharing a chocolate ice-cream cone (that wasn’t why it was a sweet dream) with my father. And for some reason, I remember that it cost $50. That’s all I recalled when I woke up. But that was enough to trigger the tears.

As I brushed my teeth, it hit me why I was crying. The moment I opened my eyes, I knew that the joy I felt in my dream of sharing an ice cream with my father was not going to come to pass in reality.

It has been two and a half years since my father passed away. I thought I had finally got used to his absence but that morning proved otherwise. And although it was not the first time I dreamed of him, seeing his face and smile in the dream made me realize how much I miss him—and that I am still grieving.

I remember how surreal everything felt in the weeks after my father left us. I thought I had lost my capability to feel anymore. Nothing interested me, made me happy, or frustrated me. Aside from an underlying feeling of gut-wrenching loss, I was emotionally numb. Life felt meaningless without my father and the future ahead felt like a big, black hole. There were even times I wished Jesus would quickly return or that my mother, brother, and I could suddenly die together so we could all be reunited in heaven and not have to go through life without my father.

But God used time and routine to sustain us. Gradually, I began experiencing everyday emotions again: happiness, anger, frustration, jealousy, fear, etc. I felt happy after a good run. I got angry when I had to do extra work because of another person’s shoddy job. I was frustrated when I took the wrong bus and had to waste time. And so on.

Life resumed normalcy and I felt like I had completely accepted the fact that my father was no longer around. It became less difficult talking about happy memories we shared and looking at photographs of him didn’t automatically trigger the shedding of tears. Even commemorating his death anniversary and his birthday (just a couple of weeks ago) seemed to get easier.

But like that morning’s episode showed, the grief I thought had long disappeared had never left. All this while, it had just been dormant, and when I least expected it, it erupted.

On the one hand, I’m baffled by how intense the feeling of loss still is to me. A pendant, which a friend had given to me at my father’s funeral, had these words engraved on it: “This too shall pass.” I originally thought “this” was supposed to mean grief; now I’m not so sure.

But on the other hand, I’m somewhat relieved it’s still lingering around. Because when it comes, it puts all my priorities, worries, and concerns in perspective. The little irritation I felt earlier over something a friend said, or the envy towards someone who achieved something I hadn’t, all become really insignificant and silly non-issues. Grief serves as a very real and tangible reminder that at the end of the day, there is nothing more important in our earthly lives than the relationships we have—with God and with others.

In my moments of intense grief, I am reminded that loss is a rite of passage that everyone has to go through at some point. Everyone will face pain and loss of varying degrees. At the same time, loss is also a stark reminder that there is something terribly wrong with our lives. Death and loss are not meant to be “normal” occurrences; they are the effects of sin in a world that has deviated from how God originally intended.

Also, it’s a sombre reminder that life is short and what I do now counts for eternity. It nudges me to keep focusing on the things that are important but not urgent, instead of the things that are urgent but not important. I’m also motivated to live out my faith and share about Jesus to my loved ones before my own time on earth is up.

These days, I’m learning to accept grief as part and parcel of my life. When it strikes (and I’m sure it will again), I want to be fully cognizant of the fact that this pain is temporary because of what Jesus has done. I will see my father again in glory and till then, I want to live my life well.

A Crushed Dream that Led Me back to God

Written By Chronika Febrianti, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

Every so often, articles about high achieving students from such-and-such university or country catch my eye. You might think I’m being overly ambitious, but it has always been my dream to be featured on such lists.

In fact, this almost became a reality in my university years. On top of being accepted into one of the best universities in my country—only the top 25 per cent of applicants make the cut—my grade point average (GPA) saw a steady increase from my first semester through to my second and third semesters. In addition, I was accepted into a prestigious student organization. With everything going like a dream, I was optimistic that I too, would see my name in the papers some day.

But then, things started to change. Despite my determination to achieve success both in and out of the class, I simply couldn’t manage. The busier I became with my involvement in the organization, the more I missed classes and struggled to keep up with my studies. My GPA dropped drastically and I failed in one compulsory subject. Eventually, I had to extend my studies to four and a half years (when I could have had completed it in three and a half years).

My dream of being featured in the media was shattered. The optimism that fuelled my spirit was also replaced by an urge to give up. Bitter regret filled me as I realized how much I had disappointed my parents and wasted the money they had spent on my studies. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t even bring myself to motivate my younger siblings to be diligent in their studies. When my friends on campus debated about subjects, I did not have the confidence to join them. When I was made to attend classes with my juniors, I felt most unmotivated. But while I really wanted to take study leave, I knew that running away would not solve the problem. I would only end up as a dropout or student who didn’t graduate.

Thankfully, God did not let me sink further into despondency. He had allowed me to experience failure so that I could break free from the ambition that had controlled my life, but now, He was “resetting” my mindset.

One day, by His divine will, I came across a quote from Bill Gates. “I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all,” he said. “Now, he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.”

That simple quote got my attention. Even Bill Gates failed at some points of his life, but he chose to pick himself up. His example showed me that I need not continue to wallow in my state of self pity. God was also reminding me that I was created for His glory (Romans 11:36). The failures He allowed me to experience were meant to help me reflect on the areas in my life that I needed to improve on, so that my life could glorify God. I realized I should pick myself up and have a new attitude towards my studies. Instead of giving up, I should offer my studies to God.

Having learnt that lesson, I have a dream to become a successful person (again). But my dream is even bigger now. I do not want to be known merely as a young successful person with a lot of achievements. Instead, I would like to be known as a person who lives according to God’s word and displays His glory to the world.

While failures may come across my path again, I will always get up and strive to follow the guidance of God’s word.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.—Romans 12:1