Rebirth of a Vision

Have you ever had what you thought to be a great idea, or plan, or piece of artwork or writing only to watch in disintegrate like ashes in the wind? How did you handle that?

I’ve had more than one vision die and fall into a black hole never to be seen again. But I’ve also had a few that came back to life in a new form. There’s such a thing as resurrection for dreams.

Years ago I read Edith Shaeffer’s books L’Abri and Hidden Art. Their philosophy of ministry touched a place deep within my soul that responded back with a longing that hasn’t ever left me. If you are not familiar with Francis and Edith Shaffer, let me tell you a little about them.

They started L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland in 1955 with the intention of providing a place where people might find honest answers to honest questions combined with hands-on practical demonstration of what true biblical community looked like. L’Abri is the French word for “shelter,” and that is what their home became to dozens of confused, 20th century youth. Among the many who lived with them were Ravi Zacharias, the greatest Christian apologist alive today, and Os Guinness, founder of Trinity Forum and author of many excellent books.

You may find Dr. Guinness’ recent speech “A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future” of particular interest as we head into the presidential election.

How does that relate to my vision? I wanted to create a place where that dynamic took place. Over the years we opened our home to many different people. In the 60s we housed eight young college men for a year. We have lots of stories to tell and are still close friends with many of them. For some, it was their first taste of a Christian home.

In the 70s, when our children were 5, 6, and 8 we took in some troubled youth. I think this was the beginning of the death of the vision. Though our hearts were in the right place, we were not equipped to deal with the issues that surfaced during that period.

Through the years, the vision morphed and sometimes focused on retreat centers or cabins for young pastors to bring their families to for vacation, but always the center of what we longed to be part of was similar to the four themes of L’Abri.

  • Christianity is objectively true and the Bible is God’s written word for mankind. That means biblical Christianity can be rationally defended and honest questions are welcome.
  • Jesus message speaks to all of life, not some narrow religious sphere. It is possible to develop a Christian perspective on the arts, politics, and social sciences.
  • In the area of our relationship with God, true spirituality is seen in lives lived by grace when we are free to be fully human rather than trying to live on some higher spiritual plane or in some grey negative way.
  • The reality of the fall is taken seriously in that, until Christ returns, the world we live in will be affected by the disfigurement of sin, but he is restoring all things.

For us, our L’Abri has been lived out in small group ministry. It is here – in our home – with cups of coffee and open Bibles that we talked about our lives, about how to honor God in work or play or parenting or spending money. This is our shelter. This is how God has fulfilled our vision.

I was walking through my yard yesterday and came upon a dried up clump of brownish plants, the fronds curled under, growing up the side of the bay tree in the front yard. I looked closer and recognized it as resurrection fern – an epiphyte, or air plant related to Spanish moss. It truly looked dead. But I knew it wasn’t.

I made my way around the back of the house to the huge maple that grows on the edge of the lake and found the second patch of resurrection ferns. Fresh, unfurled fronds and bright green. The irrigation system aims a sprinkler head at this one.

Then I thought of the book I had wanted to write The Scent of Water and how that vision died last year when Ravi Zacharias’ daughter, Naomi, released her book with that same title. I let go of the dream reluctantly, but after a short time, God resurrected it in another form.

“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.

Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,

Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.”

Job 14:7-9 NKJV

Job wrote that, and if ever there was a life that came back from the dead it was his. Sometimes it seems our dreams are just vague imaginations generated from an overactive brain. Most likely, most of our dreams that have emotions attached to them, really come from God. However the path the dream takes may be a circuitous route that takes years before its fulfilled and it hardly ever looks like what we imagined in the beginning.

At certain seasons, or under particular conditions, it even appears to have died. But at the scent of water….

Is there something you’ve believed God for over many years? May I encourage you not to let go of it just yet? Its fulfillment might be just round the next bend.



  1. Now that’s a vision worth pursuing. Cathee, the depth of your wandering always compels me to pull up a chair. Today I’d love it to be in your kitchen. 😉 Thank you for the heart work it took to put the words in motion. They reflect my own longing today, a day buried in headwork after a sleepless night. I’d like to be shoreside catching the momentum of recent heart work, soaking in the refueling goodness of God.

    • Robin
      You are someone I’d love to seat on my deck with a good cup of peach mango white tea and a very long chat! I so wish we lived closer so we could talk ourselves silly. May His joy catch up and overtake you even before the end of this day.

  2. The greatness of vision is that it continues to be within you, as the Lord planted it. Someone can take the title but the words are still in your heart.
    The greatest vision I glean from you is that of hospitality within a place of retreat. You continue to open your doors to wayward travelers who need rest for the soul and spirited conversation that sparks their vision. You and Bob have a “LAbri “at Simplicity Cottage, praise God… and I pray I can take advantage of your it and your gifts you share so easily.

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