As I was beginning to wake this morning, I had a dream where I was holding a pearl of great price and I heard a multitude of voices all saying, “This has cost us too much! This has cost us everything! What was it all for? Was it for nothing?"
And then I began to hear the words of Mathew from 13:44-46 (NIV);
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
When I woke up I burst into tears because it felt like God was showing me the path that many of us pioneers have been on and what our pursuit was for. It’s not the ministry circuit or some vain pursuit of an ideal or even a new blueprint or Kingdom formula—it’s Jesus!
But so many have felt confused and conflicted coming into 2023 as they have been hearing the lies of the enemy screaming at them saying, “What do you have to show for your steps of faith? Look how foolish you look following Jesus!"
Ask any pioneer, following Jesus since 2020 has been nothing less than picking up our cross. It’s been years of the refiner's fire of (any and all) religious idols and heart motives, ambition, and appetites have had to be thrown upon the altar. January so far has been a whirlwind of swirling doubts and incredibly low lows and deep soul searching where these pioneers have felt crushed beyond crushed and completely defeated. “Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel?" Many have asked themselves. "What has this even built?"
I saw the debt and mounting decisions that many had made that looked like Ishmael after Ishmael and failure after failure. “I must have heard wrong!” They have been saying. "I haven't stewarded my call or resources very well." But then suddenly the pearl began to glisten in the field and it all made sense—every seeming Ishmael decision began to connect like an intricate weaving of situations that could have only been designed by God Himself.
The last few years have been about the seed falling to the ground and dying but 2024 will be about now watching that seed suddenly come back to life and bloom.
Pioneers, I know you know this. You feel this fresh hope and the fire flickering inside you which is causing you to keep walking blindly into the unknown, but I see the deep swamp you are still wading through. It’s the swamp of disappointments and loneliness, anguish, and even mental torment that has taken its toll on the journey, but I want to encourage you to PRESS ON! KEEP GOING!
Yes the price is high and few go on this road but you have come this far and it’s time to SEE the land which God showed you. It’s time to see the FINISH—the FULFILLMENT of the vision that led you out your front door in the first place.
I know this year has come with its fair share of apprehension and anxiety for you because it’s felt like—even in the face of realistic fears and many unknowns—there has been a pull of extreme faith to go even further and risk everything at an even greater level for this pursuit. I feel that tension you are in of next-level faith while people around you scream "FOOLISH!" But it’s time to build it and see it come to pass.
Lock your eyes with Jesus and watch what has looked like it was in vain become trophies of His goodness and faithfulness this year.
Nate and Christy