Ever find yourself in a rut? You know, the kind of season where you’re in maintenance mode, just trying to get through the day. No big plans, no real dreams, other than “just getting through.” While it’s rarely black-and-white, I have to admit that it’s easy for me to see this tendency in my life.
Have you ever, though, asked yourself why that happens?
Our natural tendency is to blame our circumstances: “if life were not so hectic… if my professors were not so demanding… if my kids weren’t so consuming… if my job weren’t so expansive… if my rotation weren’t so demanding… if my patients weren’t so needy… if my [whatever]… I’d have more time and energy for dreaming, planning and moving forward.” We tend to think the problem lies outside of us.
Difficult circumstances definitely make it harder to summon up the energy and creativity to not just survive, but move forward with new plans, dreams and ideas. But is that all there is to it?
Recently I listened to a phenomenal sermon by John Piper that’s really got me thinking, so I wanted to share an insight he offered with you about the connection between hope and our ability to dream and plan for God.
Here it is: when we believe that we serve a big God who’s at work in our lives, that inspires us to dream big, to make plans, to come up with strategies, for impacting our world.
The sermon is on Ruth chapter 3. In chapter 1, Naomi had been deeply discouraged because of the death of her husband and two sons, as well as a famine, that had made life incredibly difficult for her. But in chapter 2, hope had reappeared as Ruth (Naomi’s daughter-in-law) meets Boaz, who gives her kindness and food. For the first time in a long time, Naomi has hope, as she speaks of “the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (verse 20) Then, immediately afterwards in chapter 3, Naomi takes up the task of finding a husband for Ruth, no small task given the circumstances. Her new-found hope leads her to dramatic action.
What about your life? If you’re in healthcare, chances are you got into it because you were following God’s call to reach a hurting world. The day-to-day grind of preparing for that calling, though, can really take its toll, leaving you with little or no hope on a real life level.
If you’re living in Ruth chapter 1, so to speak, how do you get to chapter 3 where you’re ready to move outward for God and others again?
There aren’t easy answers, but one clue can be found in chapter 2. In a nutshell, Naomi starts looking around her and notices God’s “kindness”. Although her husband and two children have died, leaving her with nothing, God has reconnected her with Boaz, a long-lost relative, when Ruth ‘coincidentally’ runs into him as she works. God is not absent after all.
When you look around you, however challenging it may be, what are the signs that God is at work? As you start to notice God’s kindness, hope is reborn and you’re on your way to recovering your calling and energy to ‘dream big’ again.