I had Opera tickets for May.
It was something that had been on my bucket list for years. When January arrived, I spent hours scouring old lists of dreams I’d created over the years, feeling a new sense of urgency to start crossing some of them off my list. This is the time, I thought. I don’t want to spend my life waiting for the right moment for everything. My life is now.
So, with the inspiration of other amazing women of Canvas who attended “Dream Day” that month, I finally pulled the trigger. I moved the Opera from my bucket list to my calendar, and I purchased the tickets.
It was a small thing, and it was only one of many goals I had for the year. But that step of grabbing onto that little goal and making it happen were emblematic of a larger perspective--I had dreams for the year, dreams that I was determined to actively move towards. I spent the weeks after Dream Day committing myself to every practical step possible to help me reach them.
Somewhere along the way, in the midst of a pandemic and the chaos that has been 2020, I lost my spark.
Many of the things I had wanted to do, that I had spent so much time planning, were now impossible. And I just plain lacked the mental and emotional energy for many of the others.
Instead of holding on to the dreams God had for me and moving towards them, I essentially curled up and waited for the dust to clear.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I carted our two young kids out to Muir Woods for the afternoon. It was super hot, and the air quality wasn’t perfect, but I felt an insistence that we go anyway. We walked down the trails in the shade, sunlight coming through the towering trees in soft sheets, my husband answering our kids’ thousand little “whys” while my son held fast to the security of his sister’s hand.
Suddenly I was reminded of the simple truth that God’s beautiful creation has not stopped being beautiful. That the sunlight, though muted at times these days, is still shining behind the haze. That we may be wearing masks on our faces, but we can still feel the air like breath on our skin. That Jesus is still leading me, and that he has not stopped placing my dreams inside me and stirring me to pursue them.
I keep coming back to the story of Moses in Exodus 4. The Lord has been giving Moses sign after sign that he will provide for Moses in this assignment he has for him, and Moses is giving excuse after excuse. First he questions God, then he questions himself. God is patient with him. He allows him to question, and to grieve. In the end, Moses is unwilling to step out.
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” 14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and he said, “What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.
What continues to strike me about this story is that when Moses didn’t believe that God would work through him, when he wasn’t willing to trust God and step into action for the Lord, God’s plans went ahead. But Moses missed out on his place in the story God was unfolding.
God’s “replacement” in that story, Aaron, caused many problems for Moses and wasn’t the leader Moses could have been, but God wasn’t stumped--His plans carried on. I believe the same is still true today. God will carry out His plans with or without me. With or without you.
The question is, will we be part of it?
Will we choose to be part of it when we’re scared and things are uncertain? Will we choose to be part of it when things don’t turn out the way we planned? Will we get up and be part of it when 2020 knocks us down again and again? Will we make excuses, curl up, and step aside as the Lord continues His work in this world?
Or will we choose to do something different?
There is a time for grief, and there is a time to pause and reflect. But that’s not where we stop. I want to be part of the mystery and glory of the plans of God, and I am learning that sometimes that means taking action, even when life seems uncertain and chaotic, when we have fears and doubts. Because I know, even when it can be hard to see through the haze and when we’re sitting in the muck of life, that when we still say “yes” to the dreams God has for us, that is when God does His best work.
And that is when we are the most fully alive.