When Dreams Become Dust…

Photo by Forrest Cavale on Unsplash

“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

His disciples did not understand these things at first…

John 12:15-16a

Have you ever felt like Jesus’ disciples described in this passage? Have you ever seen things unfolding before your eyes and thought you understood what was going on? You thought you understood how things were going to turn out – only to realize in one heart wrenching moment that you have no idea what God is up to in your story.

This is the bittersweet story of Palm Sunday. Jesus was indeed coming as a King to those who hailed him with palm branches. The long-awaited Messiah had finally come. You can hear the crescendo of hope in their voices as they call out and cry to one another, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. The King of Israel!”

The dreams they had been cherishing in their hearts for millenia as a people passing down this hope from one generation to the next… whispering it in their hearts at their most desperate hour, “When the Messiah comes… just wait a little longer. You’ll see. When the Messiah comes, He will set all things to rights.” And here He was. His disciples were sure of it. The Messiah they had waited so long for. Jesus knew as He rode on that donkey into Jerusalem that He would indeed set all things right, and yet in a way they would never imagine.

The disciples looking on during that triumphant Palm Sunday, must have been cheering in their own hearts. “The time must be near at hand now!” they must have thought and spoken excitedly amongst themselves. Jesus was coming in to Jerusalem to be the King they had waited for so long! They were breathless with the excitement of it and the staggering realization that they would be firsthand witnesses to the historical moment that had been prophesied over and yearned for by the Jewish people for thousands of years. What could be more precious that standing on this mountaintop of jubulant celebration as they were about to witness God’s faithfulness to deliver them from their enemies and keep His promise of sending a reigning Messiah?

And yet these heart dreams as they had envisioned them coming to pass, these beautiful expectations of what was next to unfold in the story of God’s work in their lives were all to be shattered into a million pieces in the space of a heartbeat. Not even a week later their hopes in Jesus and his fulfillment of the prophesy of a coming Messiah saying, “Fear not.” were dashed into dust and buried in a tomb.

“Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face the death of what you thought your life would look like.”

~Lisa Terkeurst

How many of your dreams lay buried in a tomb? Dreams that you had cherished, celebrated and invested in for years and suddenly they were ground into the dust and buried in a tomb before you even had time to realize the depth of your loss, the gravity of your pain? We all have deep dreams in our hearts. It is one of the ways we are made in the image of God.

But in this world of fallenness, our dreams too have fallen. Even when we seek to walk with God and look to Him for help we experience the heaviness of seeing our dreams that held such promise lying crushed in the ash heap. We find that life rarely goes like we planned and it hurts to watch our dreams die when they hold so much of our own hearts within them. It is our own death we are witnessing and the pain of it shattering our hearts feels unsurvivable. But it is in this moment that our trust is tested. Was our hope in the dream itself coming to fulfillment in the way that we hoped it would or was our trust in God Himself and His good and loving work in our lives?

Lysa Terkeurst, founder of Proverbs 31 ministries, talks about this shattering process that God often allows our dreams to go through on her Proverbs31 blog and she says, “We think the shattering in our lives could not possibly be for any good. But what if shattering is the only way to get dust back to its basic form so something new can be made? We can see dust as a result of an unfair breaking. Or, we can see dust as a crucial ingredient.” She goes on to talk about how God uses dust to create new life. This is what He did in the Garden of Eden and this is what Jesus used to heal a blind man and this is what the Master Potter uses when He wants to reshape our dreams into something much, much bigger than what we first envisioned.

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

For what the disciples could never have imagined on that black Friday when their dreams turned to dust, was that God was working to bring a much bigger deliverance than merely a temporary overthrow of a man-made empire and reigning over a small Jewish nation. He was engineering a deliverance that defied time and death itself – the greatest deliverance that ever would be accomplished for all people and for all times. A deliverance that would mean an eternal and abundant salvation from the consequences of death and sin in all its forms for anyone who believed!

This is what God wants to do in our life story as well. Many times, it is not because our dreams are not good dreams, but it is because what God dreams for our life story is much bigger and deeper than what we could have imagined for ourselves. And in order to make space for the dreams and plans and life that He has for us, we must surrender the dreams (and the dust) we have given so much of our heart to and give it back to Him to reform it and reshape it into a God-sized dream that only He can bring to pass. Abraham and Joseph and David and Jesus’ disciples all had to see their dreams die and be reshaped and reformed and their hearts were tested in that moment of that death. Did they love the dreams more than the Dream Giver? Did they love their own version of the story more than the Author of their story? Who was their first love?

But each one chose to entrust the dust of their dreams into the hands of the Potter and their heart was tested and came forth as gold. And as we follow in their footsteps, their stories of trust become our stories. We too are choosing our treasure to be God, Himself, rather than the dreams we have for ourselves. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And in that choice, we are able to entrust the dust of our dreams into the loving hands of the King who declares, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

“We are able to entrust the dust of our dreams into the loving hands of the King who declares, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.”

Photo by William Mattson on Unsplash

Fear not, daughter of Zion, Behold your King is coming!”

"So Glad" by Amy Grant 

I had laid some might plans
Thought I held them in my hands 
Then my world began to crumble all away
I tried to build it back again 
I couldn’t bear to see it end
How it hurt to know You wanted it that way

And I’m so glad, glad to find the reason that I’m happy-sad that You’ve torn it all away
And I’m so glad, though it hurts to know I’m leaving everything I ever thought I’d be

Once I held it in my hand
It was a kingdom made of sand
But now you’ve blown it all away
I can’t believe that I can say that I’m glad, so glad…

Long before my plans were made
I know a master plan was laid
With a power that superceded my control
And if that truth could pierce my heart 
I wouldn’t wander from the start
Trying desperately to make it on my own

And I’m so glad, glad to find the reason that I’m happy-sad that You’ve torn it all away
And I’m so glad, though it hurts to know I’m leaving everything I ever thought I’d be

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