Big dreams start in simple places.
At least mine often do.
When I think about the dreams I’ve had for my life, they’ve always started in the smallest of places – on a couch, in a hotel room, in my car, at a Panera Bread. These are everyday spaces; they’re not flashy (my couch is from the 80s, the hotel room was a second-rate Holiday Inn, my car has over 100,000 miles, and Panera Bread isn’t exactly fine dining). They’re not special or picturesque. They’re simple, and they’re part of my everyday.
Many of the biggest dreams for my life started in one of these small places – and I love the symbolism of that. I’ve learned that dreams aren’t always ‘dreams’ at the beginning; they are thoughts, inklings, things we do and become in our everyday lives. But slowly, these thoughts and inklings begin to hook themselves into our hearts; they become part of the fabric of our lives. We begin asking “what if?” and thinking “I wonder…” And all of the sudden, those simple thoughts become big dreams, born out of our everyday places and destined to one day become part of our everyday lives.
Almost one year ago today, I was sitting in the back corner of a Panera Bread, nursing a cup of coffee, writing this post, and verbalizing a dream I didn’t even know I had – a dream to write and help others connect to the Bible in a real way. At the time, I didn’t know if writing an online bible study would be a one-time thing, a for-a-season thing, or a forever thing, but I just knew I needed to start.
Big dreams simply require us to start simple.
So, I started. Along the way, I remember someone telling me they couldn’t believe I’d start with the book of Romans because it’s so deep and addresses so many weighty issues and was I really prepared to tackle that? I guess that’s the benefit of having no formal training or long history of studying the Bible – I didn’t even know it was “deeper” or “weightier” than other books of the Bible. To me, it was just another set of Scripture – one filled with wisdom and knowledge, waiting to be devoured and dissected and rooted into my heart. (Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.)
Since that day in Panera one year ago, we’ve studied Romans and Ephesians and Mark. I put together my favorite study to date, “Courageous,” where we looked at ten Bible characters and their most courageous displays of space. We spent the summer in 1st and 2nd Corinthians and then in James. And this fall, as I sat on my couch holding a newborn with one hand and typing with the other, we read through 1 John together.
Today, I’m excited to share our next study called “Assurance.”
This, my friends, is the result of months of dreaming and denying and dreaming again. A few months ago – I honestly don’t even remember when – I had this idea about the “promises of God.” I wanted to explore different promises God makes throughout Scripture and tie them into our everyday lives as a source of encouragement and strength.
But then, for a variety of reasons, I entered my “denial” phase. For starters, I hated the term “promises of God” – it reminded me of some old-school pocket-sized book with flowers and a steaming cup of tea on the cover that was outdated and inapplicable to real life. (To be clear, I’ve never actually seen a book like this, so I’m not really sure where my visceral reaction came from. Ha!) Furthermore, I had NO idea where to start. After some research, I learned there are literally hundreds of promises throughout the Bible – how the heck was I supposed to narrow them down? Finally, I was just downright intimidated. I didn’t know which promises to focus on or, to be completely honest, how to even find all the promises throughout the Scripture to write about.
I just kept putting it off.
Until one day, I just started small.
Whenever I was reading the Bible, I’d jot down Scriptures that contained promises and often a sentence about what they meant to me. Soon, my digital post-it list of promises grew and grew and grew – and as the list grew, so did my passion and intensity to find a way to share these in a Bible study.
And here we are.
Next week, we’re starting our “Assurances” study. I couldn’t quite get myself to commit to using the phrase “promises of God,” but that’s exactly what they are. These promises reveal a God who loves us, who fights for us, who shows us more mercy and grace than we could ever deserve or even imagine.
Over the next ten days, we’re going to study ten different promises that God makes to those he loves – to me and to you. We’re also going to practice some Scripture memorization together; it’s a powerful way to draw upon his assurances in the crazy, messed up moments that we need assurance the most.
I hope you’ll join us, and invite a friend to join you, too. I hope you’ll also dream big today, starting in the small, simple spaces of your life. Let your inklings become thoughts, your thoughts become hopes, and your hopes become dreams that bring you closer and closer to the big, bold plans that God has for your life.