Sunday, March 9, 2014

Plans of the Heart

Plans of the Heart

- Sarah Fry
My kids are always coming up with big, zany, wild ideas.  I love to sit back and listen to them scheming. Upgrades on the play fort using free scrap wood. Businesses, bakeries, restaurants and menus they are going to develop. Concerts and shows and circuses they create.

One of their grandest schemes ever is “Mapalacock”—an imaginary island directly on the equator (0° latitude / 0° longitude) with virtually every terrain earth has to offer, except for snowy tundra.  There is an extremely vicious lizard-like animal they named the Petraphilious (which they tell me is Latin for rock lover).  For days their heads hovered close over the table, scheming and drawing their exquisitely colorful land with its desserts and jungles and beaches and swamps and lagoons, creating their imaginary creatures and naming them.

Sometimes a child will follow me around as I work, talking incessantly, describing in great detail their latest plans for something grand.

“Mom, do you have some wire so I can make a zip line in the back yard?”
“Mom, would you PLEASE get me some of that free wood so I can build a fort that covers the swingset?”

Sometimes, I admit, I am tempted to bring them swiftly back down to earth.  I look at their little stack of wood or handful of wire and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that today’s scheme is not going to work.  

Sometimes I offer suggestions that might make the dream just a little more practical.  But mostly I just peek out the window as they work or listen in as they plan.  And I realize that something miraculous is happening.  They are developing their heart-imagination.  They are daring to dream.  Learning to endure. Through trial and error and reworking of plans, they are learning about life. 

I remember one day feeling sorry for one of them as she worked and worked to turn our backyard clothesline into a zipline.  When one idea failed, she tried another.  What if she got discouraged when her plans didn’t work? What if she got the idea that the dreaming and effort weren’t worth it? What if that happens a lot? What will she do when she realizes that many of life’s dreams don’t come true? Will she learn the truth of Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”? (NIV)

Maybe you’ve been there, too?

Dreams of babies, with empty arms and aching hearts.
Plans for life companionship that don’t come true or end too soon.
Ministry roads that twist and turn and leave us hurt and weary and confused.
Financial efforts that dissolve like sand.
Times when so much effort seems to bring so little effectiveness.
Children who choose a path of pain in spite of all you tried to teach.
Hopes that deflate.  Dreams that fizzle.
Confidence that is bruised and wavering.

We plan, we dream, and our heart is hopeful and ready, and then things change.  And we have to readjust our imagination and re-direct our hearts and settle into a new dream.  But that’s a good and healthy thing. After all, if my kid ever did succeed in turning the clothes line into a zipline, what’s stopping her at the end? The seven-foot steel beam anchoring the other side? Is “Mapalacock” really a land my kids would want to live in, after all?

I see things in a way that they do not…I see beyond the dream.

And then, God reminds me of how big He is.  How his plans are so complex and intricate and beautiful my little imagination can’t possibly comprehend.  He reminds me that in it all,  He loves me with a fiery, consuming love.  He is protecting my heart….letting me learn.  He lets me dream - wants me to dream - so that he can bring it all together into something Divine.  Something I could never have put together myself.  Something God-sized.

He reminds me to keep dreaming.  Because a heart that is His…..carries HIS dreams.  They are like seeds.  Sometimes they grow quickly and burst into colorful beauty and maturity with amazing directness.

But other times, the seed sits awhile.  And soaks and softens and breaks.  Sometimes it even dies a little.  And no one sees what is happening in the darkness where the dream-seeds wait.  But then slowly, God begins to grow something that only He could create.  Something very different, maybe, than what we originally imagined.  But it is good. Always good.  Because no one knows my heart like He does. 

So dreaming is a good thing, after all.  As long as I remember to hold them loosely so that He can shape them into something better than I can imagine.

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