Sometimes hope stumbles on the rocks and shatters. We give all we have, and it is not enough. We climb a steep, uphill trail, straining with all our might towards a goal. Willing to pay the price, we breathe the sharp thinning air of high altitude; feel the ache in our bones of pushing harder than we imagined possible. And then we fall and can’t get up.
I felt the sting of a shattered dream this week when my son’s high school baseball team fell just short of qualifying for a state play-off berth. Core members of the team started playing together at age 8 and leaned into their potential with countless hours of strenuous work, encouraged by coaches and parents around them who see it too. Third place, when the top two teams qualify for state, clunks in the hands, a bitter reward.
Riding home with my son after the deciding game, during which his team lost a 6 run lead in the 5th inning, I honored with silence the dream as it slipped away. And a memory that, all these years later, still prickles. In my senior year of high school, I qualified for state in the 800 meter run. With only 50 yards remaining in the final race of the State Meet and of my life, I churned around the corner in third place. The glimpse of a dream-coming-true exploded into my consciousness, and then it slipped away. Suddenly muscles froze, and I felt like I was running in molasses. I crossed the finish line in 8th place, one runner too late for a state ranking.
We celebrate the under-dog who gives all they have, and succeeds. The every-day person who strives, and attains. But what of those who dream and never quite grasp their goal?
Sometimes the road is long, and rewards are scarce.
If you are weary, climber, with dreams piled like broken rocks blocking your way, this is a word for you.
Romans 5:3-5 (New American Standard Bible)
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Could it be that all our shattered dreams become merely stepping stones to a place where every longing is fulfilled? Could it be that all our yearnings deferred merely expand the magnificence of a hope that will not disappoint?
Hold on, weary climber, for the hope that does not disappoint, a hope we will firmly grasp when we crest the final hill and finally find our way home.