Monday, August 15, 2011

Acorn Dreams

This past weekend I had the opportunity to relax and refresh with my fellow youth group leaders at the Simpsonwood Lodge. The beautiful retreat center just outside Atlanta is nestled in miles of wooded land. Turning into the driveway, I could sense my sprit coming alive as I drove past tree after tree. Friday night we ventured into the woods for a bonfire complete with worship, prayer time, and ending with S'mores (of course!). It was truly an amazing time. God must have thought so too as He showed up with rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening nearby as we sang and prayed. The Holy Spirit was definitely moving in our midst.

As amazing as that was, it wasn't my favorite part of the weekend (it was a close second, with a Spoons marathon coming in at 3rd). First place slot goes to Saturday afternoon. Setting: the Prayer Labyrinth. Characters: me and God. Plot: acorn dreams. Let me elaborate...

We had a few hours of free time, and I knew right away I wanted to check out this place. I set out with my Bible, journal, and trusty ipod. Walking up to the Labyrinth reminded me of my favorite place in the botanic gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand. My heart instantly began to beat faster. There's just something about walking with God in nature - it's like that's how it was supposed to be or something (oh, to be in Eden!). I took off my shoes, let the music begin to flow, and began walking through the maze. Partway into it I looked down and saw an acorn. A perfect acorn. It stood out because it was shiny and colorful, unlike the gray rocks, dirt, and fallen leaves amongst my bare feet. It was like a treasure. I knelt down and picked it up, turning it over in my fingers. It took on the symbolism of a dream. A dream you or I would have in life. The walk of the Labyrinth is life. We follow the twists and turns, sometimes able to see ahead, sometimes longing to look back, but only present in the steps we are taking right at that moment. Along the path are twigs and branches, things that may trip us up, but then there are also acorns. Seeds, implying life and growth, which will one day become oaks. I continued walking, thinking about what my dream in life would be. Then I happened along another one. I picked it up to join the first one in my hands. I pondered another dream that God has given me. As I continued to slowly walk, I saw how these acorns, these dreams, cannot remain in my own hands. If they do, they will never survive. On my own I don't have the ability to give them life. Only God can water them with living water. Only He can provide the ground in which to grow them. If I kept them, they would die.

But why does God give us these acorn dreams along our path if we can't keep them? I think because He desires for us to pick them up, hold them awhile, create a space in our heart for them, then give them back for Him to plant. They give us glimpses of what to long for, what to turn our eyes and ears toward. But they are His to have. He plants them in due time. He waters them with His eternal water. He grows them. And then He brings them into our lives again at some point. But only if we give them to Him...completely. 

So I walked with these two acorn dreams for awhile, through cool shady spots and hot sunny spots, continuing to slowly make my way to the center as I let my thoughts rest on the acorns. There was a little basket holding written prayers of others nestled amongst some rocks in the middle. I sensed it was time. It was time for me to release the acorns, to let them fall into the basket, out of my hands and into God's, releasing them to the One whom I trust more than any other. To the One who holds my heart. I let them drop with a sense of peace. Trusting that their presence along my path wasn't an accident. Trusting that one day "[t]hey will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor" (Isaiah 61:3, NIV). I am eager to see how he grows these little acorns and brings them back into my life!

What are your acorn dreams? Are you holding onto them?