A few years ago two friends and i moved into a council estate in south east London. Our aim was simple – we wanted to be an expression of the Kingdom on earth – to love and befriend the community, heal the sick, feed the hungry, proclaim freedom to the captives… you get the idea. Central to our vision was a tired looking building right at the heart of the estate which we wanted to turn into a community centre – a place where we could serve and love and feed people from. The idea was exciting and crazy and full of adventure – and we loved it! We felt like God had spoken to us, given us a strategy, provided us with a home on the estate and we couldn’t wait to get started.
Fast-forward almost 5 years on and you’ll find the same estate with no community centre. Some of us moved out of the estate onto different adventures. A few other courageous adventurers moved in to take our place. Some beautiful unlikely friendships were formed with a few people on the estate. But as yet, no obvious outbreak of what we dreamt. All that we lived and breathed in our hearts and minds have somehow not made it into earthly reality – yet. I have to be honest, it’s painful when i think about it. It makes me sad to think back to wild, exciting hopes and dreams spoken of and prayed into in our little flat – hopes and dreams that we didn’t quite see through to spilling over outside our front door.
So five years on, i have to admit that sometimes dreams don’t seem to come true. But i want to say as emphatically as i can through my computer: it’s still worth the dreaming. And here are a few reasons why:
1. God is attracted to faith, not performance. It makes me smile because i know every person who was involved in throwing themselves into that dream for the estate brought pleasure to God’s heart. I can seem Him beaming over us even now, because we took the risk, because we believed that we could make a difference, because we believed that God plus one person is a majority no matter how many stand against you. And i still believe those things with all my heart. I would rather go out on a limb a million times more and fail whilst trying, than stay safe in my own secure bubble never jumping into the unknown with God. The thrill is in the jump.
2. Going on adventure is wonderful and painful and crazy and fun and may not have any of the results that you were aiming for, but if you have open eyes, you’ll see lots of results you hadn’t anticipated. I learnt so much in the years that i lived in that little grubby flat. Learnt how to pray and then pray and pray some more, learnt about my fears, learnt about how far i was willing to jump into the unknown if i thought God was in it, learnt about how hard my heart can be toward the broken and how much i need to embrace the new loving identity that God has given me, learnt about how faithful God is even when things don’t go as planned, learnt about how beautiful deep friendships can be, how precious friends are who agree to go on wild adventures with you just because they love you and have your back.
3. Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom. Nothing. The time we gave to that estate is not wasted but sown. The prayers we gave for that estate are not wasted but sown – God heard every one. The energy and money and dreams and hopes and anything else we gave are not wasted but sown. The Kingdom operates with sowing and reaping. My friends and i, and doubtless many before and after us, got the privilege of sowing. We put good seed into that ground. Miraculous seed. Supernatural seed. And that seed can’t help but grow. I may not be the one reaping on the estate – but i know someone will, because the seed we planted was good and inherently fruitful. Not only that, but in all that time that we were sowing on the estate, God was sowing into us – and His seed in us is good, fruitful and miraculous. I get to reap the benefit of that seed and oh i am so very grateful to Him for it.
Maybe not many of you reading this have dreamt of living on a council estate. But i know many of you will know what it feels like to see your dreams seemingly not come true. Let me encourage you, keep dreaming anyway. No matter what the enemy would want us to believe, one way or another, our dreams will bear much fruit.