As we began our ascent up Donard (well, I say ‘ascent’- the path we followed and the route we chose had us up and down inside an hour, but if you go up at all, it’s definitely an ascent, right? 😉), our eyes were drawn to the treasures of autumn that we saw collected at our feet. As the joy of the bright sun filled our hearts, the delights of the forest floor filled our pockets. Of all that was gathered, the most excitement was generated when we spied the acorns that had fallen from the towering oak trees we met on our path, especially when we found some still in their little cases (apologies for a distinct lack of botanical terms here!)… definite keepers for our little stash!
As we huddled round to admire the little beauties that the wonder of the autumnal season had gifted us, I recalled and voiced a little quotation that I’d loved when I first hear it many years ago: ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.’ As I said it out loud to the girls, I thought, not only of the promise of hope and potential that it suggests but also, as a parent, the reminder that even though they are still young, the girls have so much potential, to become individuals with hopes and dreams to be dreamt and lived out, as they develop and grow.
Later that evening, the little phrase I had uttered at the foot of the mountain was heard again, but this time, the speaker was referring to how a burden on one man’s heart, a dream to help children in great need, led to a charitable organisation that has helped more children than he ever dreamed possible. A charity that breaks your heart in one beat as you realise why it exists and yet, uplifts it in the next when you witness the joy and hope that oozes from the children that New Beginnings has helped.
As we listened to the reason why more than twenty incredible children were singing and dancing, blessing us with their very presence, I couldn’t help but think how the bravery of the founder, his willingness to step out of the realms of his home comforts, out of his very comfort zone, has already and will, for sure, continue to do help change young lives for the better in the future. The burden God placed on his heart led him to act and achieve something beyond his early thoughts. He could have chosen to believe it a task too big to undertake, something beyond the realms of possibility. But he didn’t. He acted. God enabled him to do more than he could ever have imagined. And the wonder of this, is the reminder that just because a task seems impossible to us, does not mean that it is impossible for God.
Maybe there’s a burden in your heart. Maybe there’s something ‘niggling’, something that fills your heart and mind. That something which occupies so many of your waking thoughts and maybe even your dreams too, that something which sets your heart on fire, then maybe it’s not just a pipe dream, but a burden that God has placed on your heart, a seed He has planted there that only you can help to grow.
Too easily we look at situations and circumstances through the lense of human possibility yet, if what is stirring in your heart is from God, then there is no doubting that He can do ‘immeasurably more’ than you could ever ask or imagine. We look around, we weigh up the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘buts’ and before long, the ‘just maybes’ are buried beneath doubt and fear and hopes fade. It can be really easy to look at the worst case scenarios and how it could all just flop and it’s definitely important to prepare ourselves for what could happen, but don’t let the negatives blind you from the potential positives.
We read in John 15 verse 16: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.’ This isn’t an invitation to ask for whatever we want but instead, a reminder that when we ask according to God’s will, He will provide what we need.
If you feel that’s there’s something in your heart and mind that God has placed there, seek His guidance and direction. Allow Him to lead you along the path that He has planned for you and you alone. Don’t be put off by human limitations. Instead, trust God to make a way where no human eye can see one. Allow Him to use you and, by His grace, remember the ormoise that He ‘is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work in us.’ (Ephesians 3 v 20) He doesn’t ask us to achieve anything in our own strength – our humanity will always fall far short, but God’s grace and power meets our own weaknesses and encourages us to trust Him, His timing, His circumstances and opportunities and in so doing, allow Him to use us to do more than we ever imagine possible.
If you’re struggling right now to make sense of that ‘something’ you know sets your heart on fire, then look to the One who knows your heart better than even you do. Let Him lead, guide, direct and amaze you. God neve promised that things would always work out the way we expect them to, but He has told us that if we follow Him and trust His ways, then He will work ‘all things for good.’
Isaiah 43 offers so much assurance and hope. Reminders that the One who has given so much for us, the One who loves us, is also the One who has done the seemingly impossible, at least by human standards and, He reminds us that as we trust in Him, we need not fear:
‘Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine … fear not for I am with you … you are my witnesses and my servants whom I have chosen …the Lord who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters … behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth … I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert’.
The God of the impossible is the very One who took a young man from Mourne to a country far away to change lives for the better, all because he followed the burden on his heart. The God of angel armies and the God who transforms little acorns into mighty oaks may well be waiting to do something incredible with your life too. We didn’t make it to the top yesterday, in truth, we hadn’t planned to and we certainly weren’t prepared for it (walking shoes were created for a reason!) but, brief as our journey may have been, it blessed us with some spectacular sights and it whispered the promise of so much more, if we were willing to go further and follow a different path. I don’t suppose it would be easy (says she with a fitness rating of zero) but, I don’t doubt that the journey would most definitely be worthwhile once you’d reached the summit and taken a moment to enjoy the view.
Don’t let what might seem like an insurmountable, mountainous challenge put you off following a dream buried in your heart. If there’s a little acorn planted deep in your heart, then trust the One who put it there; the One whose power is beyond anything we can ever understand and, allow Him to do something incredible. After all, the little acorn starts off deep in the ground but, with the right conditions and the right amount of time, it grows to become the mighty oak. And maybe, just maybe, your dream will too.m