Summary: In observance of my 17th anniversary as pastor; to worship is to become available for God’s purposes, which mean being sent to unreceptive and impossible situations. Can we dream impossible dreams about our church’s building, properties, ministries with

If what you expect to receive and what someone wants to

give you are not the same thing, you are doomed to

disappointment. If you want a particular thing, but the person

you are dealing with is determined that you shall have

something else, it is going to be tough. The other day our

secretary said to me, “Dr. Smith, there is a package for you

in my desk drawer.” I eagerly opened her drawer; “package”

suggested something wonderful. “Package” suggested that

maybe a gift had come for me. I went looking for something

in a box, or something brightly wrapped and with a gift tag on

it. I was eager to find my package. But I found no package.

She said, “Yes, there’s a package for you, right there, in my

desk drawer.” All I could see were some envelopes, and

said so. And she said, “That’s what I mean. A package for

you, right there. All right, an envelope.” We had been

talking right past each other. What I expected to receive and

what she wanted to give me were not the same thing, and so

there was disappointment.

Have you ever had this experience in shopping? You go into

the store, with your mind made up, that the item that was on

sale, with a great price, is what you want. But when you get

there, first of all, they can’t find it, and then the clerk says,

“We have something much better. You don’t want that flimsy

little nothing. You want this – it’s much better. And just a

little more expensive.” So you can either insist on having the

cheapie you came for; or you can listen to the sales clerk,

who you know is trying to make a sale, but who really might

have a point about how much better his thing is than what

you thought you came for. You can insist on having your

way, flimsy though it might be; or you can accept what is

being offered, and pay the price to get something really


Our spiritual lives are like that. What God wants to give us is

not always what we think we want from God. And so we are

doomed to disappointment. What God wants to give us and

what we suppose we want from God are often not the same

thing. For God wants to give us meaning, direction, and

purpose in life. God wants to use us for the Kingdom. But

what we want is self-centered. We want satisfaction,

excitement, thrills. And if we are looking for a spiritual rush

or for a buzz, but what the Lord wants to give us is an

assignment, well, we’ll be talking right past each other, won’t

we? And we’ll be disappointed.

The young prophet Isaiah went to the Temple one day,

looking for something. Looking for assurance that in a time

of upheaval, everything would be all right. Looking for a

word of hope that, as the old king had died and there was

uncertainty on the horizon, his precious Lord would hold his

hand, lead him on, and let him stand. If you are tired and

weak and worn, that may be what you think you need. But

Isaiah got a lot more than that. Isaiah got a life assignment

out of his visit to the Temple.

And, more than that, Isaiah’s life assignment was to do

something impossible. To take on something that could not

be done. Isaiah was to accept a guarantee of failure. He

was to preach to a people who would not listen and teach a

people who would not see. Isaiah was to dream an

impossible dream and to keep right on dreaming it until the

very end.

“I said, ‘Here am I: send me.’ And he said, ‘Go and say to this

people: “Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but

do not understand.” Make the mind of this people dull, and stop

their ears, and shut their eyes”

That’s pretty dismal business, isn’t it? To know that you are

going to give yourself to something impossible. Isaiah, go

preach to people who will not listen, teach people who will

not learn. Push that rock up the hill only to have it roll down

again. Fill that pond only to have everything leak out. Tilt

against a windmill that will only keep on turning, as it has for

centuries. Isaiah had to face it. God’s people didn’t want

what He wanted to give them, but wanted something else.

But Isaiah accepted that assignment and thus became

available to God. He became available for impossible


I want to share my heart with you today. I want to be a bit

personal and speak with you about the impossible dream

that is embodied in this church. I want to think with you

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