Keep Your Dream Alive – Part 1

“Can you remember a time before you landed in the wilderness when your dream seemed to be on the verge of coming true? Were you excitedly making plans and working hard to prepare for a lifetime of happiness? Did you feel as if you had the world by the tail, that all the pieces were falling into place and nothing could stop you? Are you now feeling dazed and confused, wondering what in the world went wrong?”

This is one of the opening paragraphs of Chapter 11 of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“. There have been many other chapters in this book that have contained great words of wisdom and advice, such as: travel along your hard road with good, trustworthy friends; expect detours but keep on walking; trust God, go at His pace and worship Him as you travel along. But this chapter seems to me to be written especially for me and my family. Let me explain.

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In a previous article, (“A Stricken Father“), I tell about the joy of finally becoming a Bible translator, and then experiencing the pain of watching my son suffer a major illness and being pulled out of our translation project in Papua New Guinea. Our story gets better as we were able to return to overseas mission work in 2006. We served with Pioneer Bible Translators for a year and a half in East Africa, but we didn’t quite capture the same level of joy and fulfillment that we had experienced in PNG. Before we left Africa in mid-2007, I had been in dialogue with a number of our PBT leaders in Canada, the United States, and also some of our overseas Branch Directors.

As a result of these discussions, a very exciting picture of opportunities and possibilities begin to emerge. My Canadian Board and I talked about me helping to recruit, organize and expand PBT Canada. The Dallas office wanted me to come periodically to train new missionaries, just like the East Africa Branch wanted me to train national men and women to do Bible translation.

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The door to PNG opened up again as they invited me to come over and be trained to become a translation consultant and check Scriptures before they were published. This would open up the possibility of coming annually or semi-annually to PNG and work with many different translation projects. There was even one more fascinating role that the new President of PBT-US had asked me to consider doing, to act as the facilitator to help open a new country for field operations in South Asia.

As the year 2008 began, it seemed to me that God had arranged all of the skills I had and the training and experiences that I had gone through, to put me in a place where I would be used by God as a Bible translator and linguist literally in countries and continents all over the world. Two months later though, in March 2008, the symptoms of my disease began to manifest themselves and in just six weeks I went from being a globe-trotting translator to not being able to walk across my living room floor. All my dreams and hopes of this promising future were shattered and almost died.

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Let me turn the focus off of me and turn it now on to my two sons. In these past few years, they too have had some of their own dreams and hopes, which up until recently were also seemingly being thwarted. My older son went to Bible college and was nurturing a dream of working with children and teenagers. He talked of possibly completing a degree and then working as a Youth Pastor. Unfortunately, he did not get a lot of encouragement from some people to pursue this dream,.

But even more significantly, the post-cancer fatigue that he is experiencing is limiting him right now from working at any full-time job. My younger son, as you may have read from previous articles, had held for a long time the hope and dream of entering into the Canadian Army. He believed that he was meant to have a military life and career.

It was offered to him in September 2009, but in a moment of doubt and not feeling ready at age 18 to be a soldier, he passed on the invitation. Upon more reflection for six months, he decided that the Army was for him, but positions were filled by then and for more than a year there wasn’t even any hope given to him that he would get another invitation.

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And so for three years, everyone in my immediate family (including my wife who has had her own dreams unrealized) has had to walk by faith and not by sight, trusting in God that He will one day bring our dreams to fruition. What helps us as Christians is that we believe these dreams of a more fulfilling future have been planted within us by God Himself who designed us to be this way.

Atteberry is right in his introduction of this chapter as he recounts the life story of Caleb in the Bible in that his dreams were only deferred, pushed into the future, not defeated. Remember how Caleb had been one of the 12 spies who surveyed the land of Palestine, the land which flowed with milk and honey. But because of the sin of the people, it would be 40 years until Caleb was able to claim the promise of this portion of land.  And so we will pick up this message in keeping your dreams alive in Part Two which will be published in two weeks from now.

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