If you live in the Midwest, you can say for certain that fields of wheat and corn are a real part of the landscape. But for some living in the Heartland, something rooted deep inside of your being sees mountains and ripples of blue merging far off in the distance. And in that pensive perspective, for some reason, you live perpetually on pause and wait for something more. 

There is great danger living only to survive. My friend, author and speaker Dr. Chic Shaver, said it best, “You go to bed early, only to get up early, to go to work, to make the money, to pay for the food, to pay for the roof over your head.” Three times he repeats this charge in his lectures, pauses, then, with compassion and fervor he says, “NO! That is not real living. That is existing.” (Excerpt from Brazen Bravery. C. Adams).

Existing. That sounds exciting! (Eye roll)

I can tell you stories. Stories about those who not only walk the walk and talk the talk but live love through their actions. Who was it? C.S. Lewis? He wished to see a sermon than hear one? Ordinary, next-door-type people who see and reach beyond their comfy walls. We have friends who graciously welcomed three teenage girls into their family. (They were even added to the family Christmas card!) Kind and generous parents who had already raised three children of their own, their youngest being a sophomore in college. Then there’s another friend who walks the streets of the darkest parts of a large city with the purpose of showing love to the unlovable. And still more who write meaningful letters, serve impromptu meals to widowers, collect blankets to cover the homeless while they sleep, and those who give generously and ask for nothing in return. (I also have these fabulous cousins who make it their business to know their neighbor’s business for the single sake of showing up when needed.)

Ecclesiastes 5:7 (NIV) unfolds it like this. “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless therefore stand in awe of God.” So there it is. Dreaming can be fruitless without God’s navigation. We preach WWJD, wear the necklace and tattoo a cross here and there but…wearing a sermon is not the same as living one.

I wonder if we sometimes forget that this life is not our own. There is a connection to that feeling we get when we hear that “still small voice” and act. It floods all the feel good receptacles of our being because it is how we were created; to serve others. I’ve heard that the best advice given to those in despair is to do something nice for another. 

Maybe this year is the year that you recognize the mountains and see the beauty in the distance. 

Sometimes it takes a big breath (and not counting the cost) to look past the tired, mundane landscape of your daily day and risk to recognize something more. Something that’s been waiting for what YOU have to give. It’s been shouting the invitation and perhaps you haven’t given yourself permission to listen. Each of us are equipped with gifts and graces. The trick is…believing this. YOU are exactly what someone needs this year. So to those who live in the Heartland and beyond…big breath…dream big. Can you see it? There’s something more! No need to wait, go ahead…stand in awe of God. 

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