Simply put God has called me to the Prodigal-Church.
Yeah, you know.
The ones referred to as:
The Wrecked and Wounded.
The ones who have heard it all before and just ain’t listenin’ anymore!
These are the “ones” who are severely bruised, deeply disappointed and pissed off at God, The Church, or all of the above.
(Nope. Not an easy crowd.)
But, you know what else?
God passionately LOVES these that many folks just privately hope will “Go away.” leaving us in ‘The Good Church’ to our sleepy tranquility.
I know because I was one of these prodigals, and truth be known? Sometimes I still am.
Ticked-off that is—not prodigal.
I still get angry because many of these folks have been brutally beat-up good-n’-proper.
Perhaps they “once upon a time” believed. But, now?
Now they ain’t havin’ anything to do with it!
They have hit the dusty trail, and now have turtle-shells thick-n’-crusty around once trusting hearts.
Yet they are STILL HIS. And are perhaps MORE WANTED than they were in the beginning.
(Before it all went wrong in their lives.)
Make no mistake about it—He still calls them BELOVED, and He longs for them to come home to Him.
These the Saints consider rabble-rousers, and futile-flotsam, He calls with infinite tenderness, “My Beloved.
I believe this because—I was one of them when He came after me.
(And I do understand how “The Church” feels.)
I fondly remember the days of easy crowds and occupying easy chairs. (Yeah, I confess.) All gone now, and it’s okay because I believe someone needs to reach Wounded Sheep! All those Prickly-Prodigals with crusty shells around hearts that have stopped believing in anyone calling themselves Christian—walking away from our churches—taking the back door out.
Yep, they’re my assignment. My mission. My project.
Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit;
though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren;
even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty…
Was there ever a more apt description of a place of dead dreams?
Our dreams represent our highest aspirations for ourselves. A place where we hope to soar with eagles on wings of vision and destiny. Habakkuk’s Vineyard on the other hand, paints a portrait where all has dried up, withered away, and died.
Not exactly the destiny we all dream of…
And yet if we are honest with ourselves a very REAL place that all of us have visited, or will visit, at least once in our lives.
Why does a God who loves us, I mean, really-really LOVE’s us (so much that He was willing to send His only Son to die for us…) why does a God who will do all of that, take us to dwell in a place as barren and bleak as Habakkuk’s Vineyard? Why?
Notorious unfathomable question.
Could it be? Is it possible that there is The Place where “more” is born? Right there in that horrible desert of hopeless blight. Is that the “preparation place” for dreams that are far beyond our asking or imagining like Ephesians 3:20Ephesians 3:20 English: World English Bible - WEB 20 Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
“Now glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” [TLB]
Infinitely beyond? From a place like that? How is it possible?
These are some of the questions we will ponder in the coming pages.
Perhaps, just perhaps, in all of our shattered dreams and devastating losses, God is setting the stage in our lives for a MORE life. More joy. More fulfillment. More fruit. Greater compassion and usefulness infinitely beyond our highest prayers. Infinitely beyond all our desires, thoughts, or hopes.
Could it be?
From Habakkuk’s Vineyard?
Crazy. Improbable. Impossible!
Yeah, but what if?
Instead of a place of death, God intends to give us more of something Jesus called – the abundant life?
I don’t know about you, but when I arrived at Habakkuk’s Vineyard I was angry, and very, very, frustrated.
To my thinking, I had obeyed everything that God had asked me to do. Yet, everything in my life was in a shambles and I was feeling more than a little ripped off.
I just couldn’t seem to reconcile my present realities with His promises, and the more I tried and failed, the more frustrated and ticked-off I became.
There was something missing and I had to find out what it was, so I decided to thrash out these feelings with God in my daily journaling.
Here’s where I need to tell you that I am a prodigal-daughter who has returned.
When I did, God and I made a contract: no head-faking-baloney. Only straight talk. As gut-level honest as possible.
I say this because in the “conversations” that follow, you will hear me pour out my angry frustration many times.
But, I also hope you will hear a dreamer’s hurting heart. One that is genuinely searching for all of God’s right answers.
In this book God will often be referred to as: The Dream-Maker.
I am (of course) the caterpillar.
I chose this metaphor because this book is all about transformation: ⦁ Transforming our wrong beliefs about God. ⦁ Transforming our wormy-thinking about ourselves… ⦁ So that, in turn, we can transform our anger and confusion into prayers-with-power… ⦁ Asking The Dream-Maker, to transform our present devastation, into His destined purpose.
In short, let’s bring our Wilderness wandering to an end. Let’s give God all our confusion, anger, and heartbroken devastation. Let’s let Him transform our faulty thinking into the dreams and visions that are fit for His plan and His Kingdom purpose.
Father I remember.
I remember how hurt, angry, and confused I was when I arrived at the end of my dreams, only to find myself living in Habakkuk’s Vineyard.
Help us, LORD. Help all of us who find ourselves living in this barren place. We need revelation. Faith-eyes to see what isn’t there yet. Faith-ears to hear Your Still Small Voice speaking truth to our hearts. Show us the way out of our captivity-thinking and believing.
You are our promised Comforter, Teacher, and Healer… and we need it all!
LORD, transform our hearts so that we can transform our asking. We need this, so that You, The Dream-Maker can bring about the plans You have for us. “Plans for good, not for evil, to give us a future and a hope.” [Jer. 29:11-14Jer. 29:11-14 English: World English Bible - WEB 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.
12 You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you, says Yahweh, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says Yahweh; and I will bring you again to the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.
WP-Bible plugin] Bring this “promised end” to pass in our lives. Get the enemy’s foot off our neck, so that we can place our feet on higher ground. We receive ALL the new dreams You have for us by faith. Give us the hope we need to trust in Your word and Your promises again. Help us to pray the prayers that open the windows of heaven. Take our tiny caterpillar-dreams and turn them into wings-of-destiny. The destiny You have planned for us from before the beginning of time.
We come humbly. We come hurting. We come desperate.
Transform us LORD.
We ask all this in the powerful Omnipotent Name of Jesus. Amen. (let it be done!)