The Dream, Part 2
If you asked me who my favorite person in the Bible was, I would have to say the Apostle Paul, probably because to me he resembles what real life is like. No matter how anointed he was or how big his assignment from God was, the guy went through a lot of unnecessary ‘stuff’ in life just to get the job done. I think that’s the story for any of us who truly have a dream. In order to do what you know you need to do, you have to leave the shoreline and set sail. If you can keep tethered to the shore, you can keep things safe and call it quits if at any time the water gets too rough. However if you’re willing to cut the line in order to sail towards your dream, than get ready for what will probably be the scariest ride of your life, and yet the most exhilarating ride of your life; a place where all of your training comes to action. Few make it to that place because the work is great and the costs are even greater. But if you happen to be amongst the few who work the plan and pay the price, you get to see your dream come to pass and those rewards are eternal.
Without going into a lot of detail, several years into his ministry Paul was accused by the Jews of a crime he didn’t commit. Holding his ground, Paul appealed to the Roman courts of his day. At the end of his first appeal, it looked like his case was on the verge of being dismissed. However, Paul didn’t trust the governors in the region in giving him a fair trial so Paul (being a Roman) appealed to the highest court of his day; he appealed to Caesar. It was an ingenious move on Paul’s part to appeal to the final Caesar of the Roman empire, and it was a free ticket to Rome to preach the gospel of Jesus…and a long standing dream come true. However Paul’s biggest problem was in getting to Rome. Within weeks of making his appeal to Caesar, the Roman guard placed Paul on a ship in the late fall with 275 other passengers, most of who were criminals. It was the worst time of year to sail and Paul let that be known…but nobody who mattered bothered to listen. In 24 hours, the waters went from manageable to storm grade, to typhoon level…and the ship was in trouble. For the next 2 weeks the battered ship and crew made little progress so they rationed their food until all hope for surviving was gone. But it was that night that an angel from God came and spoke to Paul in a vision. He told Paul to not be afraid that God was going to save the lives of everyone on the ship and that Paul was going to make it not only to Rome, but to stand in front of Nero himself! However there was one small catch. The ship wasn’t going to make it.
The ship should have made it. The ship could have made it. The ship would have made it…but it didn’t. What made matters worse is that Paul couldn’t swim. So when the riptide began to tear the boat apart, Paul grabbed a board and hung on for dear life. He kicked with his feet clinging to his board while trying to clear the riptide, but to no avail. One hour of trying passed by. Then two. Three. Five. Ten. Twenty. Thirty and finally 36 hours before he cleared the breaking waves. He was the last of 276 to finally break through. He was the only one who had to work that hard and probably the only one in his mid fifties. Alone, tired, hungry, worn thin and probably facing dysentery he made it to shore only to be bitten by a rattlesnake on his way to the warmth of the bonfire. Without skipping a beat, he shakes off the venomous snake and enjoyed a meal and the fire with his new friends.
Think of it. All that, just to see his dream come to pass – a dream of preaching to the people of Rome and sharing the love of Jesus to Nero face to face. Some people who don’t understand a dream don’t understand why Paul would keep going…but I get it. How on earth did Paul make it through 36 hours in the high seas? The same way we make it through our storms when the vessel we have traveled on for so many years just doesn’t make it.
1) You hang on to your board. That may be a friend, a loved one, an encouragement or something that reminds you to stick with the stuff.
2) You remind yourself of God’s instructions. Don’t ever forget that God’s got this. He holds you in the palm of his hand.
3) You tell yourself you’re going to make it. You have to hear yourself say it, and say it and say it. Something great is about to happen.
It’s no fun when you’re pursuing a dream and you lose everything, especially when you realize that you can’t swim. The pain of losing your ship is matched only by the thoughts of quitting and giving up every hour, especially when all you can see and feel are the pounding waves. That’s when I’m thankful for my ‘board’. It becomes my life and it’s all I have…and it’s all I need. It buys you enough time to remind yourself of God’s instructions and gives you the courage to tell yourself you’re going to make it. Because you will.
I’m thankful for my board and for my God who always leads us into victory.