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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Dreams and Visions...
You can have a vocation that isn't your calling. You can do a job each day that isn't the thing that burns hot in your heart and makes you lay awake at night, hoping the day will come when you get to do that one thing. You can go through the drudgery of the day-to-day grind while holding on to a vision for your life that God implanted and that looks nothing like the life you now lead. This is a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse. To have a vision is to have a purpose and to be part of a plan. To have it delayed...for days, then months, then years...that becomes life-quenching.
Peter toiled on his fishing boats for all of his life. He was very good at fishing. His family was known as one of the most successful fishing families in the area. But inside his heart, Simon...as he was named at birth...was crying out for more. Every day he worked in the sun and the wind and the weather, hauling nets, cutting bait, taking fish to market, and doing it all again the next day or night. And maybe every day he would let his mind wander to something different...something else. Maybe on the nights he went out to fish he lay under the stars and silently asked God to reveal a bigger plan because this throbbing in his heart was growing and making him more restless every day.
Then one day he hears Jesus on the shore as he is mending his nets after a fruitless night of fishing. Jesus asks to borrow his boat to use as a pulpit and Peter agrees. Maybe he welcomed the diversion from the monotony and maybe something in this Rabbi made him feel like he was closer to this missing piece of his soul. After the Rabbi speaks, He asks Peter to take the boat out into deeper waters. Peter does. Jesus tells him to drop his nets. Peter laughs and says "Listen...I'm a fisherman. This is what I do. We fished all night. They aren't running today. But I'll humor the preacher and drop them anyway. " He does and in an instant every fish that his nets could hold are in his possession.
Peter declares himself unworthy of such a man and bows in His presence.
And right there...right when Peter had caught more fish than he ever had before. Right when Jesus added a huge blessing to Peter's vocation as a thank-you for letting Him use his boat to minister to the people, he puts a finger in Peter's chest and gives him what he'd been looking for his whole life. Jesus simply says "Follow me Peter...and from now on you'll catch men."
Peter was faced with a moment of decision and to make it even tougher, Jesus dropped a challenge at the very moment when Peter was most successful. He had a lot to walk away from that morning. And Peter didn't flinch. He dropped his nets full of flapping fish and followed Jesus.
He walked away from his life of fishing and the business of fishing and began the journey that would lead him to where he had always wanted to be.
7 years ago I stumbled across a simple verse in Proverbs 17, I felt the nudge of Jesus' voice telling to "follow Him" someplace new and different and undefined at the moment. I said yes, despite the fact that I was coming into my own in my career, finally healing from my divorce, finally getting comfortable with the life I had built.
I said yes because I was so unhappy inside. I was successful, achieving, active in my church, faithful in the tithe and in personal time with Jesus every day. But there was something lacking and I had no idea what it was. Jesus didn't reveal it that morning either...He just asked me to follow Him. I said yes.
Yes...as I would come to find out...meant losing everything that had identified me up until that moment. With the exception of my fatherhood, everything I was and worked for was gone within 2 and a half years of that night. My career, my home, my possessions, even my pets. Gone. I questioned that decision a thousand times...more even.
Peter's saying "yes" began a journey and so did mine.
And now 7 1/2 years later I have experienced four years of homelessness, been utterly broken over and over. Been abandoned and forgotten by those I thought would be the most encouraging, but blessed and befriended by some who surprised me by their care and concern. I wrote three books and two blogs and graduated from college after 28 years.I started a carpentry business, two radio shows and a fledgling ministry to perhaps the most ignored and overlooked demographic in society...the divorced dad.
More than anything, I have seen God's vision for my life move from cloudy to clear...from pan to zoom. I know exactly what I am here to do...at least for the immediate future...and it burns white-hot in my soul. Not being able to do it right now is hurting more than I can say. But having a vision is better than not.
This is why I jump on every bandwagon of any of my friends who launch out and try something. It's why I champion my friends' books and music and ministry ideas and dreams. Because these things are the core of who we are and without someone else believing in them too...they can die on the vine.
I know what it is to lose sleep because of an all-night writing frenzy. I know how long a work-day can be when your mind and your heart are someplace else altogether, doing something altogether different. I know what it feels like to question your own value, direction, and your own life.
That is why I'll support all my friends who dream. Because a lot of my dreams I dreamed alone and it is hard to keep a dream alive that way.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Getting behind someones dreams and visions makes you a hope-giver.
So be one.