It was an old abandoned stone building, probably dating back to the late 1800’s. The windows were all gone and it was all boarded up. Just the shell of a building was left but I loved it. The architecture was beautiful and I would often imagine what it looked like back in the day when it was probably owned by a wealthy New York City family. We would pass this building on the West Side Highway when my family drove to our home outside the city. I was a teenager then and I had big plans for that building in my heart… God knew.
Every time we passed by that building I would say, “There’s my orphanage!” There’s the building I would restore and create a home for children who have been abandoned, abused, and neglected. It was just a dream. A naïve dream of a teenager but that was my heart and vision at the time. Besides rescuing children off the streets of New York City, I was going to travel to Africa as a missionary and rescue children from extreme poverty and if I had time, I planned to raise my own family and adopt several children along the way. Oh, the naivety of youth!
Forward twenty-something years later and God reminded me of that building the other day and my future travels to Africa. No, He isn’t calling me to the mission field or back to New York City to restore that old stone building. Instead, He is calling me out of my own insecurities and reminding me of the heart of that naïve teenager.
I get caught up in my own little world on a daily basis. I often worry about me, my life, my success or my lack of success and feel very sorry for myself. It’s really the way of our world or at least in America. It’s like we live in a ME obsessed society. We are so focused on success, fame, and often, being noticed for who we are.
But God reminded me through the memory of that old, abandoned stone building of exactly what my calling is in life. I might have been a very naïve teenager but God birthed in me a desire to reach the lost, rescue the hurting, and change the world through the love of Christ. That dream of restoring that old building is really the reality of life for all of us who follow Christ.
We are like that run down building needing a really good restoration. We are bare and abandoned without the hope of Christ. Through salvation, God takes us and adds life to us as we grow closer to him. But we aren’t complete until we fill our lives with the purpose of reaching out to others and giving them a home and life in Christ, as well. Filling the walls of our lives not with our own success but with the stories of how our life, through Christ, has sheltered and nurtured others.
Maybe you are reading this and are feeling discouraged about your own life and plans that have not succeeded. Maybe you feel like your life has been a failure because the plans you dreamed in your youth have not become reality. That’s not, necessarily, how God works. He takes each and every one of us and our run-down walls and adds life to us as we give life to others. It’s usually not in the continent of Africa or in big cities but just wherever we find ourselves. God can do immeasurably more than we ask of him, if we are just willing to be used exactly where we are at and let go of those big, maybe naïve, dreams that God never intended for us.
I didn’t get to restore that stone building into an orphanage. I still haven’t traveled to Africa. God had other plans for my life. Great plans! But He still wants me to have the heart of that young girl who dreams big dreams, not of who I will become but who I will touch through the love of Christ. He lovingly redirected me out of my own prideful ambitions and reminded me that although my plans have changed and often times have gotten off track, my purpose in life is still the same.
My life is not about me or my success or my failure. It is about what God can do through me if I just get back to the heart of that naïve teenager who wanted to bring life to the lost and hurting. That’s my purpose, that’s my calling, and that is what can restore life and purpose in all of us. To be in a place in our hearts where we are willing to say, “Less of Me and more of You, God.”
Now time to get back to restoring more walls and making that building that is my life– a home.