I have another “Mama always said…” for you. I often talk about my mother’s wisdom. I still hear her words almost daily cautioning, beckoning, comforting, or filling some hole within me. Though not exclusively hers, they bear repeating, and I like to give my mother the credit because she knew the truth in these words better than anyone.
“Reality isn’t as neat as the dream.” This observation is not necessarily bad news when you find yourself in the middle of a dirty place that seems so far from the white picket fence you dreamed about. The reality is often more intricate in beauty and truth. Dreams are generally ambiguous and painted in soft shapes the same way that fluffy, vaporous clouds lend themselves to our imagination. But the jagged concrete of life always calls us to something greater than a dream, something that sculpts itself deep within our souls—something that, if it were not challenging, would remain unnoticed, underappreciated, or perhaps undone.
I read something from a new favorite blog, Study in Brown that I can’t seem to shake this week. She wrote these words in her post: “Back then, I thought that love was going to change the world and God would never let us fail. I hadn’t taken into account His long view or how He was going to rip through my romanticized version of world-changing and give me the cold, hard reality. Let’s face it: we all want to march in and save the world. We love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the poor, the suffering, and the outcast. What we don’t want to do is get up right now and love the drunk in our family. Or the brother who can’t keep a job. Or the self-important right-wing (or left-wing) jerk we go to church with.” Her words still sting.
Not coincidentally, I started a journal of God’s revelation this week. Where does God reveal Himself to me? I was certain He’d gloriously explode in my heart with the bird’s song, or my cleaned up yard, or in the reunion of my three children home this week. He was there in those sweet moments also, but I missed the bang. Before I had finished penning the quote from Study in Browninto my revelation journal, my phone rang. It was a neighbor with a territorial dilemma. I smiled at God’s sense of humor in asking me to love the not-so-lovely person so quickly. How He knows my distracted heart these days—so like Him to give an opportunity quickly that I might pass the test. I responded with a smile and a story about how cute the squirrels were scrambling in the roof gutters for hidden pecans. I jokingly suggested she should pay those squirrels for cleaning out her gutters for her. She said she’d have her husband look into it. She missed it. But for once, I didn’t. I smiled and went about my day unruffled. Once again, the reality of the day hardly resembles the dream of what each day should look like, according to Annette.
This world brings some harsh realities. It is filled with struggles and real pain. But God shines clearer against the backdrop of the dirt. Often, we have to get in the dirt to see Him. And it looks nothing like the dream. But it is a sweet place of revelation.
This week, we started our fall study, Revelation. I can tell already that it will be so much more than sorting out a complex dream. This dream, the recorded Revelation, only captures a glimpse of the intricate, stunning reality of what is to come. It is our future, our remaining hope in the One who one Day returns to set all things right. And I wait in glorious anticipation for the one Reality that will be so much better than the dream.