Last week I had the privilege of spending a few nights in an empty home while some family friends were away. I realize that might sound creepy to some people, being in a big house completely alone; but I welcomed the solitude and silence. I had been sensing for a few weeks the need to get alone with the Lord, to let my heart breathe and reset in this new year.
In fact, a week prior to my staycation a friend texted me out of the blue: “Jen, have you thought about getting away, taking a solitude retreat?”. I later told her that I had in fact been trying to plan a weekend away but was having trouble rounding up the finances to do so. Five days later, there was another text message on my phone that said, ”Do you want some solitude time? We are leaving Sunday to Wednesday”.
Coincidence? I think not.
I headed into those three nights with a sense of expectation. There was something waiting for me in those empty nights.
Because I was still working and filling the majority of my regularly scheduled commitments, the first two nights I had just a few hours of prayer, reading, and decompressing from the crazy schedule I’ve been maintaining. However, by the time I hit Tuesday night, I had about 6 hours of uninterrupted space. It is often not something I look forward to, being along for hours on end; but I knew something divine could erupt at any moment.
I started in the backyard on a bench that swung back and forth. I just sat in silence, staring at the green grass, the jewel like blue and pink tones of sunset, and the deep rustic wood porch accenting the clean white boards on the house. All the colors, were so soothing to my soul. As I swung back and forth I remember thinking “Wow. God, did you do this on purpose?” The combination of all the colors and styles just felt on purpose.
I read a few chapters of “The Pursuit of God” on that swing and shortly thereafter headed in to make some dinner.
While indoors, I kept noticing the family photos on the wall. I’ve probably been in this home a few dozen times, but I kept finding photos I had never noticed. Each one gently inviting me to lean in and look. After about the tenth trip down the hall I felt the Lord whisper, “Open your eyes and look again”. So, I did just that. I looked again. This time, it was as if I could see the divine writing on the wall. All these photos, were more than photos. They were stories. The stories of love, of laughter, of family, of God’s provision, and His Father heart. I could see His heart and His hand through every photo.
And there’s more. As I peered into the photographs, I could finally see my own heart, my heart that deeply desires my own version of these stories.
As I stood in the halls finally aware of my own heartbeat, I felt that I wasn’t alone. I felt like God saw my heart, my longings. And He simply whispered a comforting and steadying, “I know”.
With that kind and gentle whisper I realized that those three days were a transaction of sorts. God was making a down payment on the dreams that I have secretly longed for for over a decade. It was a reassuring glimpse of what will be. It was as if the Lord was saying, “Jen, it’s already done. Time isn’t an issue for me like it is for you. I see it and I want you to see it before it’s even here.”
I grinned with the radiance I believe David talks about in Psalms 34:5, and I knew in my soul that it was MY turn to make a down payment into the same dream. It was time to pray.
I felt the Lord nudging me to put my faith in action, to pray for my husband and my future children. Now, can I be honest with you? Here goes. It’s one thing to pray for a man I don’t know yet; it’s another thing to pray for people who don’t even exist yet. It was an uncomfortable prayer. Believing when I feel the absolute furthest away from the dream, that’s a task. It even felt like starting an engine that hadn’t run in years. Is this thing going to turn on?
But I knew I needed to practice my faith, to make a down payment by praying as if it’s a fact that a husband and kids are in my future. Did you catch that? I wasn’t asking for God to give me a husband and kids, I was praying for them like they are already mine.
When God makes us a promise, we have the opportunity through faith and prayer to take possession of that promise even when it’s out of our reach.
As soon as my mouth opened to pray, the tears began to pour. I could barely get through my sobs. But heaven heard me. I know it. And my ears finally heard my vulnerable trust that God is going to follow through on His word.
In this season, I’m letting the Lord shine a light on my longings, even the vulnerable ones. I’m learning to take possession of the promises and make down payments on my dreams through prayer.
And so I wonder…
What are you dreaming for? What longings do you feel the Lord shining a light on in your life? He knows your heart and longs to make Himself known even in the midst of your most vulnerable desire.
So, as we wait for our dreams to become reality, I leave you and I with this:
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you,.." 2 Peter 3:9
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.