Rest and Burnout Series, parts 5 & 6 (re-post): Rest While You Wait & Lost Dreams

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(These are parts 5 & 6 of a series I did on rest and burnout in 2012.)

Part 5

Rest While You Wait: Living Between The Times and Burnout

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; Longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
-Proverbs 13:12

We are always living in time between the times. We have a past and a future. We have losses in our past and dreams for our future. The non-fulfillment of our dreams can make us feel tired and even beat up.

Getting a promise, a dream, or a word from God that speaks of something good and special for you is a blessing. We are very uplifted and encouraged. God has moved in our lives. We feel like we have connected with our purpose. Hallelujah! Worship is an ease and a joy. We might even call people and tell them about the message, invitation, or promised blessing from God that we believe has been revealed to us.

But, the first challenge for us is when it dawns on us that there will be a waiting period between our reception of the word and it's reality in our life. I had to learn this. When you really see, really hear, or have a real dream from God it is so exciting. In the excitement, I would always forget, for the moment, the many stories of waiting between personal prophecies and fulfillment; like Abraham or Joseph. Hope kept getting deferred. Proverbs 13:12 reflects this experience, of unrelenting disappointment, as The Message has it translated, that can sicken our hearts.

But when the promise finally comes, our lives can turn around: it is a tree of life. Earlier in Proverbs, it says that wisdom is a tree of life. The tree of life is first found at the beginning, in the book of Genesis. The Tree of Life was at the center of Eden. Jesus Christ is meant to be the center of our lives today. As Adam and Eve ate from The Tree of Life, we need to eat from Christ. We need to consume and internalize Christ who is our life. He is The Life-giver and the Life-saver. We are dependent on continually consuming from Christ at the center. He came that we might have life and abundant life.

Remember that there were two trees in the garden of Eden. The other tree was the forbidden one: The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was also at the center of the garden. The two trees and their fruit continue to challenge all of mankind today and they reveal the dichotomy between the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of God (There were Two Trees in the Garden, Rick Joyner, page 9).  .

In our time of waiting, the Holy Spirit stands beside us, as the helper, the counselor, the comforter; and also stands in the future where our word is fulfilled. The Spirit of God forms us into the shape of the promise and gets us ready to wear it. Our home work in the waiting room is to walk with God and let him form us into the person who receives the promise. It is a time of transformation and preparation. Between the old and the new is the desert. Between the mountain where you received the word and the mountain where it becomes reality is a valley.

We might get heartbroken along the way. We might sin or be sinned against. We might go through serious discipline. We might go the opposite way like Jonah. Whatever your story is, you might be hurting. Disciples hurt and weep. Hosea endured tremendous heartbreak in his life from following God's prophetic instructions and he wrote the song:

"Come, let’s return to the Lord; for it is he who has injured us and will heal us; he has struck us down, but he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, so that we may live before him.
Let’s know, let’s press on to know the Lord; whose appearing is as certain as the dawn; who will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that give drink to the earth.”
-Hosea 6:1-3

In between time people are sometimes brokenhearted. We feel like God has hurt us and knocked us down in our disappointments. Hosea was a brokenhearted man and he wrote that God has injured us and knocked us down, but he says that God is going to heal us, that God is still faithful. So, he says, let's press on to know the Lord. This is the essence of the in-between-time. It is painful, but press on to know the Lord. You don't "gut it out" on your own strength. You don't harden your heart and wait for the end of the world. You believe in God's faithfulness to come and to heal you and bind up your broken heart. You press on to know the Lord. That's intimacy with God, your secret history with God, communing with God.

The antidote for heart sickness is to return to the source. Ask questions. Walk and talk with the dream-giver. Partner with God, working out what He works in (Phil. 2:12-13). Look at God and let God transform you (2 Cor. 3:17-18). If you (when you) find authentic fellowship, those brothers and sisters will affirm and confirm your dreams and encourage you. They will weep with you and cheer you on as you walk with God.

Part 6

When You Have Given Up: Lost Dreams And Burnout

What if it has been so long, too long, and you believe or maybe you once believed (past tense); but you stop asking God to fulfill a dream?  

You gave up on something because it was just too painful.  The disappointment was too great.  You take up your cross of disappointment and walk on.  

You have not abandoned God, your faith, or your love for God's people.  You just have stopped praying about something important to you.  You have given up on that thing.  You know that all things are possible for our miracle working God.  You have seen other people get their prayers answered and their desires met, while you stand before God empty handed.  How do you take care of your heart and still serve God in your life?  We live with the paradox of walking with a loving God who is allowing suffering or lack or unfulfilled dreams.

Luke Chapter 1, verses 5 to 25 reads:  During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations.

They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old.

One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty. Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering.

An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God. He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”

The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home. Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.” -Luke 1:5-25

Luke writes that Elizabeth and Zechariah were, "both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations".  The CEV translates the verse as saying that, "Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded".  They were faithful & righteous believers.  Good people.

Luke then tells us that they had no children because they were unable to and that they were very old.  It is implied that they were past the child-bearing years.  It is interesting that Elizabeth means "God's promise", and Zechariah means, "God has remembered".

The angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah one day, around 3pm, while he was doing his priestly duties in the temple.  Zechariah was scared and after Gabriel said, "don't be afraid", he then said, "your prayers have been answered".  

What prayers?  Zechariah prayed all the time.  He might have been praying when Gabriel showed up.  

Gabriel told him that his wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son.  

Those prayers.  Those prayers that he prayed decades ago.  Those unanswered prayers.  The dream he gave up on.

Gabriel then lays out some instructions and tells him of the great purpose that their son John will  have.  

To this momentous news, Zechariah has a peculiar reply:

He says, "How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old."  

Wrong answer.  Wrong response.  You're asking God's Archangel how can this happen? 

A great miracle was being announced to him by God's Archangel, Gabriel, and he did not get it.  Zechariah's heart had been sick and calcified over.  Zecheriah's burnout had turned to cynicism.

I remember a lady that was looking at a photo of scores of people at the Toronto Airport Vineyard laying down on the carpet and she said, "been there, done that".  That's cynicism.  I wondered what her deep disappointment had been with God.

When someone shares a tender act of faith and we make a sarcastic comment that is rude, maybe we are coming from a place of burnout in our own walk that has not been arrested.

I imagine that as a young couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed to conceive and in disappointment, they prayed and prayed again.  They may have wept together and sought God, laying hold of a promise in their hearts that God would give them a very special son.  But time past and it didn't happen.  

But they remained faithful to God.  Maybe some bitterness crept into Zechariah's heart and he was hardhearted.  Because of his disappointment, he became burned out and cynical about the fulfillment of certain promises in his life.

  • We too can become like Zechariah and get burned out and become hardhearted (cynical) while remaining faithful.  
  • Our dreams or life words and promises take time to develop and come to pass.  
  • God has a good life for us between the times, but we get so frustrated with the lack of fulfillment that we don't enjoy the scenery and all the stops along the way from here to there.  
  • The One who gave you the dream of the mountain will walk with you through the valleys, deserts, streams, and rivers on the way to it.    
  •  God remembers your prayers and your dreams, even when you stop asking, dreaming and longing

"The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this." -1 Thess. 5:24