Monday, August 25, 2014

I'VE BEEN "BOOK-CLUBBED"


Let me explain.

First of all, let me tell you that I am an avid reader – have been all of my life. I read a lot of books, and I read fast.  I've been known to read a book in less than a day!

I mostly read fiction – mystery stories are my favorite genre (after all, I earned my stripes reading Nancy Drew).  But I also like to sprinkle in some non-fiction, too – (mostly faith-related books).

And yes, I have been a participant in Book Clubs.

But that’s not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about being *clobbered* over the head by a book that stops me in my tracks.  A book whose message reaches deeper than just my thoughts – a book that speaks to my soul.

I have just finished such a book.

"Shattered Dreams" by Larry Crabb.

Perhaps it wouldn't have been a book that I would have picked on my own. After all, I'm not a fan of shattered dreams.  But a friend of my sons told me about it – had me read a short intro – and I knew it was a book that I needed to read.

This, from the back cover:

"'The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream.'
…author and counselor Larry Crabb has written a wise, hopeful, honest, and realistic examination of life's difficulties and tragedies.  He wraps insights around the bold story of Naomi in the Bible's book of Ruth…Shattered dreams have the power to change our lives for good.  Forever."


Really?

This is the question that I asked myself before I started reading the book. Now I understand what Dr. Crabb was talking about.  It seems to me that he spoke about three main premises that we subconsciously believe are true. But they are not inherently true, and there is some danger in believing so.


Here we go:


1) Life is supposed to work.

Don't we all have this underlying feeling that life is supposed to work? Isn't that the dream?  We desire to have pain-free lives.  Lives with good health, great marriages, fulfilling jobs, perfect children, and financial security.

We wiggle under the challenges of something less.

We are stressed by the reality of living in this imperfectly broken world.

The truth of the matter, if we're honest, is that we want comfort over character, ease over endurance, and self-fulfillment over faith.

However, it doesn't take much to realize that this is NOT the truth of our experience.  Life teaches us that it doesn't "work"at least in the sense that we want it to.

So, our dreams for a pain-free life are shattered.


This leads us to the next premise:


2) If life doesn't work, then God is supposed to fix it.

C'mon, you know it's true!  We really do want our Lord to be the knight in shining armor – we want Him to swoop down and correct the injustices, heal the illnesses, mend the relationships, solve the money problems, etc.

Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting these things, or praying desperately for these things.  I believe the problem lies in our expectation of God's rescue (as we see it), and then the disappointment and disillusionment when He doesn't fix our stuff.

So, our dreams for a godly rescue, a supernatural *fix*, are shattered.


Which leads to the last premise:


3) If God doesn't fix our life, then He's supposed to "be there" with us through it.

In other words, if bad stuff happens in life, and God doesn't come to the rescue and fix it, then He will be/should be "there" with us while we are going through it we should be able to sense His tangible presence by our side.  We should be hearing His voice.

But often, just when we need Him the most, God seems especially hidden and silent.  Sometimes when we want to sense His presence the most, He seems particularly absent.

So, our dreams for the comfort of God's presence in a way that we can sense are shattered.


Now what?

Listen to this quote from the book:

"He lets us hurt and doesn't make it better.  We suffer and He stands by and does nothing to help, at least nothing that we're aware we want Him to do.  In fact, what He's doing while we suffer is leading us into the depths of our being, into the center of our soul where we feel our strongest passions.  It's there we discover our desire for God.  We begin to feel a desire to know Him that not only survives all our pain, but actually thrives in it until that desire becomes more intense than our desire for all the good things we still want…we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life." (page 4)


This is the crux of the book.

In having our lesser dreams shattered, we can be awakened to the greatest dream – the deep desire living within us for God Himself.

I believe that the most important thing that can happen to you after you've accepted Jesus as your Savior is getting in touch with how much you want to know God.  The greatest dream is discovering how much you just plain WANT God, not for what He can do, but just for Himself.

Trust me, the process isn't going to be easy.

In fact, it might hurt like hell (literally) – for the powers of hell will surely conspire to destroy you in the process.

The enemy will whisper frightful lies.  He will convince you that you have been abandoned to the hopelessness and futility of life.  He will continue to tempt you to hold on to the desire for those lesser dreams of the "good life."

But we must not lose hope.  We cannot give in to faulty premises.

This quote:

"The experience of despair is the initial movement in the rhythm of hope." (page 55)


And I believe that the one anchor that holds us through this whole process is Truth.

The Truth that God loves us, He is good, and He is there with us whether we feel Him or not.

Years ago, I visited the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico with my boys.  At one point on the tour, several hundred feet below the surface, our guide turned off the lights.  Believe me, it was pitch dark.  A total absence of light.  A dark so dark you could almost feel it.

Then our guide told us to put our hands in front of our face.  I placed my hand so close that it was almost touching my nose.  I could feel my breath on my palm.  But I absolutely COULD NOT see it.  No matter how hard I tried, there was nothing.

My senses did not see my hand, could not tangibly perceive it.

But it was there – so very close.

I think about this experience when I cannot feel God, when I cannot hear His voice.  My senses belie the truth that He is there, and will never leave nor forsake me.

And somehow, this is part of the greatest dream.  Wanting God even when life doesn't work.  Wanting God even when He doesn't come to the rescue and fix everything.  Wanting God even when I don't feel Him near and can't hear His voice.  Wanting Him more than even my experience of Him.

Wanting God above all else.


About a month ago, I had a night when I just experienced a total meltdown. Nervous beyond my ability to calm down, sobbing my eyes out, feeling completely out of control – I uttered a different sort of prayer.

Instead of asking God to fix things – though I still wanted Him to – I just cried from the deepest part of my soul:

Not my usual, "Lord, where are You?"

But something deeper…

"Lord, I just want You."

As soon as I said it, something very odd happened.  I actually felt this sense of peace, a feeling that I had reached something very, very deep within myself.  And after reading this book, I feel a sort of thrill that I have actually touched something very important in my life.

I know that I have experienced the greatest dream – even just for a few moments.

I want more of it, because I want more of God.


Sure, I'm terrified of what it might take to keep in touch with the greatest dream.

But wanting God with the deepest part of your soul is something powerful.

And if you arrive at this core in your heart, you will discover that at the bottom of the engulfing quicksand of life there is solid ground – hallowed ground…

…and you will stand.


Lord, give us the courage to pray this prayer, and mean it:

May I never want the good things in life more than I want You.  May I never seek Your gifts more than You, the Giver.  May I never be so comfortable in the here and now that I don't long for the hereafter.  Give me the tremendous gift of knowing how deeply I long for You.  Grant me the gift of pain in order to know that underneath all of the rubble of my life, my grandest desire is to know You.

Don't let me settle for the lesser dream of a good life, nor want good things more than the greatest dream of the best thing.

For the best thing in life…

…is You.





And the rain fell,
and the floods came,
and the winds blew and slammed
against that house;
And yet it did not fall,
for it was founded
upon a rock.




(Needless to say, I highly recommend this book!)




"O LORD, why do you stand so far away?  Why do you hide when I am in trouble?" (Psalm 10:1, NLT)

"How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?" (Psalm 13:1, ESV)

"Why do You forget us forever?  Why do You forsake us so long?  Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old..." (Lamentation 5:20-21, NASB)

"You have seen, O LORD; be not silent!  O Lord, be not far from me!" 
(Psalm 35:22, ESV)

"'I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.'" (Proverbs 8:17, NASB)

"...seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure." (Isaiah 33:6, NIV)

"My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you." (Isaiah 26:9, ESV)

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, ESV)

"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13, ESV)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverb 3:5-6, ESV)

"...we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, ESV)

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2, NLT)

"So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold...So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him.  Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy." 
(1 Peter 1:6-8, NLT)

"For God has said, 'I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.'  So we can say with confidence, 'The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear.'' 
(Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT)

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30, NIV)



How is God calling you to lay down your *shattered dreams* and seek Him, the greatest dream of all?



Linked today with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, FAITH BARISTA, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, THRIVE AT HOME THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, EVERYDAY JESUS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, WHATEVER IS LOVELY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, GIVE ME GRACE, SUNDAY STILLNESS



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

35 comments:

  1. Well you summed up the struggle I have been having all summer and the word DREAM has been at the center of my struggle. I even bought a pillow saying Follow your Dreams and then wondered what it really meant. Joseph was called a dreamer and yet he ended up in the pit and then in prison. Yes, they did bow down to him later, but not in the way he would have thought, and it came after struggles. I need to read this book, but you have summed it up so well and written what I would have written, but better. Thanks!!!

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  2. Hi Sharon! I'm going to write this book down, it sounds like just what I need right now. Ugh. I need a better perspective on life when it doesn't work out the way I think it should. I have thought that maybe God is trying to lead me to my purpose, and maybe that's what this author is saying too.

    I have had that 'lights out' experience in a cave too, it's very weird, isn't it? But it's such a great metaphor for the spiritual life. I have used it in writing too. (My niece worked at Carlsbad Caverns as a tour guide!)
    Can't wait to read this!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  3. Wow...your post hit me right where I live. First of all, if the book is by Larry Crabb, it has to be good. Have you read his book The PAPA Prayer? If you haven't, you must...our ladies did our SS lesson on it a few months back and now the men's class is doing it. I want my alcoholic son to be delivered from his bondage but I can't make that happen, although he is at the center of my prayer life. It's the most tremendous pain that I never knew existed...seeing your child killing himself a little more everyday. I know that God can deliver him but the waiting is killing me and I need a different perspective, perhaps. I think I need to find this book. Thank you, my sweet friend.

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  4. Excellent post, Sharon. I can see a connection between some of the points I made in my recent "Gratitude" post and the truths you share here. I love when God puts us all on the same "page". :)

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  5. AMEN!

    I highly recommend anything Larry Crabb writes and "Shattered Dreams" is one of his finest. Really reviewed well by you ... book clubber ... I love when books just seem to grab ya, hold ya and get to ya' right where you need and touch the deepest part. I love your wonderful dark experience ... but not too sure I would want that ... yet what an awakening and revealing sense it gave you to use here. How very true these premises! How beautiful your heart, your prayer and your thoughts of wanting God more. (sorry that you were in such a dark place to have to pour out your cry to Him ... (((hugs))) I love you, Sharon and your gift of writing... standing with you on hallowed ground, solid! but not so sure about "How is God calling you to lay down your *shattered dreams* and seek Him, the greatest dream of all?" maybe in the next month or two, I will be better able to answer this ... however, I do know I am pressing in to seek Him more and be strengthened by Him...

    With His love and peace,
    Peggy
    (off to see "Hercules" at the theater today in 3D in Spanish) ... I don't do this very often, prefer English and staying home I guess (cheaper popcorn and snacks with my DP) ... have a blessed week and try to keep those mountains and other places in CA from trembling so greatly! Stand firm and hold on secure! I know you are alright but 6.0 and so many aftershocks, I wondered if they traveled as far south as you?)

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  6. "May I never want the good things in life more than I want you". This needs to be our prayer always.....

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  7. This does sound like a good book, Sharon, and I too want just Him though I struggle so much. I think I need to do some soul searching and make your prayer my prayer too.

    betty

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  8. I need to check Amazon for that book. It sounds wonderful and so (Providentially) in line with exactly what we have been studying recently. I loved the part at the end abut the darkness in the cavern (had a similar experience), and I really, really loved the part about the prayer. I need that, Sharon. I am feeling it so desperately these days that I just WANT him.

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  9. WOW, Sharon, another book for me to add to my list. I have never read anything by Larry Crabb, although I have looked at them. This one sounds like one I will want to read. I am always more willing to take a look at books that I might have passed over because of a thorough and uplifting book review. Thanks and may we draw near to God no matter what the circumstances of our dreams may be. He is always for us and not against us.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  10. So encouraged to read this, God is taking you on an amazing journey as you rexamine what it means to dream. So much beauty there.

    Can I add some books on the topic to your list? "With" by Skye Jethani (what does life With Jesus after our broken dreams look like...) And "Me, Myself and Bob" by Phil Vischer (a beautiful memoir of shattered dreams redeemed)

    Blessings on your journey! -Rachael

    (Visiting from Unforced Rhythms)

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  11. Sharon, I just shared this with my husband. We have also been to Carlsbad and the image you reminded me of is such a great picture of how something can be there even though we cannot sense it. Reading your post, I could almost feel the depth of your cry to God...and my spirit responds with a "Yes. Lord. I just want You."

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  12. Oh my--I love Shattered Dreams too, Sharon! I read it a couple years ago (?). I pretty much like everything Larry Crabb writes though. But this spoke to me in many ways and in my hurting places. I'm glad it ministered to you as well.

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  13. Well you have me wanting this book. I need to read this again too. Was coming by quickly to say THANK YOU because I am just oh so grateful for you. The comments you leave at my blog are always a blessing. You seem to make me smile (and laugh) just when it's needed. It's been a good but hard nine months but your presence at my place reminds me to keeping seeking the JOY that we find in Him. Always love your posts too and will be back to read this one again more slowly. xoxo

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  14. I think most of us have experienced shattered dreams! Things we thought we had planned out, hope for something better, crying for God to heal a beloved person who passes away - - yet Wanting MORE of God and seeking him will take us to the greatest dream of all - being completely in HIS presence. Thank you for sharing your inspiring post with us here at “Tell Me a Story."

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  15. I joined "Bookbub" and they send me featured E-books many of them FREE. I too like the mystery stories.

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  16. I'm not familiar with Larry Crabb but I can certainly relate to all three premises the book is based upon. You have done an excellent job of making me want to add this book to my ever growing TBR book list.

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  17. You know I have a quote I just read - We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties....

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  18. He is the culmination of all dreams and what we are really seeking for in the first place. Sounds cliche, but it's true nonetheless. Thanks for sharing about this book. It sounds good.

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  19. It must have been very difficult to pray 'I want you' before 'I need you'. We are kind of hard-wired for protection, aren't we? We want to take away the hurt, stop the pain, cushion and pad the sharp places - when without them, we won't grow. We won't change. We won't understand absolute love. God showed us how with his own Son... I think I'm going to have to read this book!

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  20. Lovely, dear Sharon. So glad I linked up behind you at Coffee for your Heart over at Holley's place.

    So encouraged-- and glad you got book-clubbed ;-)

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  21. I came to this blog via Holley Gerth's link primarily because I love to see what kinds of books people are reading. But, I really feel like the Lord led me here because I have a friend going through some challenging times who is struggling with why God would allow them. As I read your comments I thought to myself, "I'm going to get this book for Gwynne." And then I realized IT'S already on my shelf! Brand new! Someone gave it to me before I was really much of a reader and I never really looked at it. Thanks for the recommendation. By the way, I'm looking for some good fiction to read if you have any ideas.

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  22. There is so much depth to this post. I love the way you learn to honor the pain in your life and to listen to what tears will teach you. Many will relate to this honesty, friend. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us at Unforced Rhythms.

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  23. Wow - an epiphany to be sure! Seems we're all sorta on the same page of late. Been wondering about my own dreams - shattered as they have often felt - and pursuing what God's put on my heart but fearful that I will move ahead of Him. Then I shrink back - and things get dark. Been three years in this season. Thanks for always writing so raw about your journey to His core in you. Love you, my friend! So glad you linked this to All Things Bright and Beautiful this week!!
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  24. Thank you for sharing your reflections on Mr. Crabb's book, and for linking with us at #TellHisStory.

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  25. Powerful, powerful post, Sharon!

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  26. I'm finding the comments on this post very interesting...seems we have very common experiences and needs. I like, as usual, what you have written. I will read it too. These past two years have been a learning experience for me...and if through it I find a closer understanding of God, I am thankful for it. "May I never want the good things in life more than I want You."

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  27. Hi Sharon. Sure does sound like an excellent book to read. Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Ken

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  28. Well, you read my post yesterday so you know this definitely fits with where I am. In the midst of all the struggles and distractions and schemes, I can completely rely and trust in Him. He is the One I need. He is both the author and the FINISHER of my faith, and I can hold onto Him. Thanks for this powerful reminder, and I will definitely have to add this book to my list. Thanks again, Sharon.

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  29. "Sure, I'm terrified of what it might take to keep in touch with the greatest dream." I have felt this for so long, Sharon. Thank you for this post.

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  30. There are a lot of deep things to ponder here! Something I learned in life is that God is not afraid to use pain to shape us. Jesus felt pain. I remember as a young adult being surprised that my cousin was reading a book about pain being good. It was a health worker's kind of book and how pain can be a sign that the body is healing itself. Talking about physical or emotional pain is never easy. Thank you for sharing! God bless!

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  31. Wow!!! I think Sharon you should write your own book. Powerful message in your post. I love the analogy with your hand in the dark, can't see it but know it's there. Yep. Same deal with Him. Someone once gave me a book by Dr. Crabb, can't remember the name but never forgot what the core of it was. Love - we all need to know we're are loved unconditionally and that we have purpose. Those two concepts are a part of me now so I think I will go check out Shattered Dreams. Happy weekend.

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  32. Great post! Such a timely reminder for me. Thanks for sharing. #saturdaysoiree

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  33. I love Larry Crabb and this sounds like yet another great book by him. Thanks for sharing it and so many gems of truth from it. Linked up with you at Sunday Stillness!

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  34. sharon, i'm your neighbor at GiveMeGrace:) I enjoyed your review of Larry Crabb's book:) I have read a number of his books over the years and found them very helpful! great review:)

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  35. I have so many books to read and am afraid I read slowly and fall asleep often while reading. But THIS sounds like a must read. Thank you so much for sharing!

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!