Not all of my dreams in my journey with God have been fulfilled, not even when they were dedicated to Him.
For example, when my husband Barry first accepted the pastorate of Mountain View Baptist Church in Tucson, Arizona, the church was only seven years old—and popping. Our youth building was jammed, kids rooms overflowed, and our adult classrooms were full. Soon the church was conducting three Sunday morning worship services and two Sunday schools, all on a small parcel of five acres of land.
So we prayed, sought the Lord and dreamed of a new dwelling place. We sent faithful scouts to spy out the land, pooled our money and bought 19 acres for $525,000. In the desert, God was making a way—until something happened that brought things screeching to a halt.
Environmentalists made a case that the land that we’d staked out served as airspace for an endangered bird. This hot piece of desert land for which God had moved heaven and earth for us to purchase became a frozen tundra, a sacred airport for the thinning ranks of pygmy owls presumably circling overhead. We never saw a single one, but we had it on good authority—the EPA—that they were there, and they stopped our building plans in their tracks.
Churches are like people; they are dynamic beings. In the ebb and flow of church life that followed, long after we’d moved on in our journey, the land that Mountain View Baptist Church dreamed of was finally released from EPA captivity—but by then the need and desire to move the church had migrated into something else.
Last year, 12 years after we left Tucson, Mountain View Baptist Church invited us to celebrate the church’s 25th anniversary with them. We simultaneously learned that the land into which so many had poured their prayer, hopes and dreams had been sold, and the proceeds had been designated for much needed renovations to the existing property, kicking off a new building project.
Barry and I put on our game face and accepted this turn of events gracefully. But for those of us who remembered the day we bused people over to prayer-walk the property, wasn’t this, well, too little and much too late? "Our” piece of property now housed a charter school. It wasn’t at all what we had envisioned.
Until we discovered something else. Just as the Ohio church, a recent plant, that Barry now pastors rents meeting space at a local recreation center, the charter school on that coveted piece of land also shares its space with a body of believers—a new church plant. This church is led by young men who had been teenagers at Mountain View while we were there.
As we celebrated Mountain View’s 25th anniversary over dinner, sitting to Barry’s left was Chase Delperdang, pastor of Legacy Community Church of Tucson, which meets on the land that Mountain View bought—and sold. Chase and Marcos Salazar, who serves as Legacy’s administrator, are carrying on a legacy in a way that only God could have foreseen … because the legacy is His, not ours.
Years ago we were sure that the desert land that we purchased was destined to have a church worshipping there. As it turns out, we were right. About almost everything else, we were wrong. For some, it is proof that the dream was merely a desert mirage. For us, it’s the glimpse we need to carry on.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.~ Hebrews 11:13 NIV.