If you had asked me five years ago where our family would be today,
I could not have told you.
I might have made a wild, hopeful guess that included gainful employment,
health all around, and a vague continuation of education for our children.
If you had showed me this picture, of a sugar-sand beach with my feet and a baby's feet,
and told me that the baby was mine, I'd have laughed you off (with a note of hysteria in my voice).
I believe that God knows our deepest dreams.
All of us have a dim picture in our minds of how we hope things will turn out.
One of our sons has the excellent habit of writing down his goals every year.
One year I saw his list. It was so specific.
It included "Work out four times a week,"
and "Read the Bible every day."
It made me realize that I have never done this.
I have never vocalized my goals, never written out my dreams.
The days and years have unfolded before me with very little planning.
I am constantly surprised by my own life.
Some of the surprises have been lovely.
By the grace of God, I married a kind person when we were only 21 and 22.
And guys, we are so not perfect.
Yet we've been able to stumble through marriage, parenting, years of plenty, years of want,
stretches of good health and mires of illness.
Though we often felt like we were staggering along,
none too gracefully, just pretending to be adults,
we generally made forward motion,
and we were hand in hand.
This is a blessing I do not take for granted.
I'm not going to catalog the surprises that undid me, disappointed me,
filled my mouth with the bitter taste of regret.
But there have been a few of those, too.
If you've lived to a certain age, say 12, you know what I'm talking about.
On various cloudy, cursed days, we want to hide from our own lives.
"This is not what I thought it would be like.
This is too hard."
"This was not on my list."
Well okay, I can't say that.
I was too lazy to write a list.
But I want to remind you of something.
This one precious life of yours is not random, scattered or haphazard.
It is planned.
And although you may have set detours or potholes in the path,
and sin makes everything hard,
and on bad days you want a different life, somebody else's life,
this is your real life, and it is beautiful.
You may think you are too tattered and bruised to retain any value.
(I have felt this way).
But there is One who loves you so much,
loves me so much,
and He can do anything.
What He does is not usually what is on our list
(if we've had the foresight to write a list).
It will often include a surprise or two.
You'll survey your life one day and say,
"Well would you look at that.
Not what I expected. Not what I asked for.
Not what I planned."
It might look more strangely beautiful
than anything you could have dreamed.
God is amazing that way.
"God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts." (Larry Crabb)