When the colours fade, where do we turn?

My brother, sister-in-law and their three children are currently working as missionaries and teachers in Port Vila, Vanuatu. My parents were also missionaries there for 14 years, and Andy and his wife Noelene felt a strong call to the islands several years ago. It has been their dream for a long time.

Noelene home-schools their three children, shares her baking skills with the people there, and teaches the Bible at Sunday School. They have a kids’ club, youth group, and preaching classes for the men in the church there, and Andrew is also translating the Bible into their language.

In one of his letters home this week, Andy wrote:

“‘Living in Vila’ is no longer a dream but a reality. Dreams come in shades of whatever your favourite colour is, but reality is what it is. Sometimes reality is far better than the dream, and that’s how I feel most of the time. But, in the wonderful world that is God’s kingdom, the reality that hurts is almost always the one that takes us closer to Him and His will. And that is, of course, the safest place to be.”

My brother and some of his family.
My brother and some of his family.

I share this because my brother’s words stopped me in my tracks, and perhaps they make you think too.

What colours do your dreams come in? What are you hoping for? Perhaps your dream has been realised and the reality is different to what you’d hoped. Perhaps, as my brother said, it’s better. But even if life presents us with rainbow colours, there’s this nagging truth – as Andy articulated. The reality that hurts is often the one that takes us closer to Him. In the hurt, we cling. In the pain, we realise our need of a Saviour. In our brokenness and failure, we come face to face with the One who can put the pieces back together and remind us where our strength lies. And this is true whether we’re struggling with the ups and downs of mission or ministry, taking risks in our career, or plunging into relationship problems.

Where does your strength lie? Where does mine? What are we looking to for affirmation, validation and approval? Is it success, the feeling of being liked, or the worthiness of our achievements? Or do we look to the cross of Christ, where sin is offered humbly, forgiveness is given, and freedom in Him truly begins…?


  1. The color of my dreams are crazy, so bright! But your brother’s words really made me think. He is right. The painful parts of the dream were times of growing and stretching for me and I wouldn’t give them up for anything!!
    What i envisioned for my self didn’t happen but oddly enough it’s better, much better than I envisioned and the crazy part about this whole thing is it has just started…….God has just begun to work and I look forward to more!
    Thanks for a thought provoking post Ali…..


    1. Well said. That’s awesome Rolain.. I’ve found that too. God often has other plans that are much, much better and more satisfying. Praying he keeps guiding you into more and more joy in him!

  2. I think I do tend to look for validation and approval from those around me, rather than drawing my strength from God. Being on the worship team, it’s easy to put most of my focus on how the music sounds and what people think. Of course, it’s important to make sure the music is as best as it can be, and that what we are doing is bringing the congregation to a place of worship. But I find that the more we focus on these things, the less we focus on God and everything suffers from that. On the other hand, when our focus is on Him, everything seems to fall into place. It’s a constant struggle to keep our minds in the right place, but I do believe He blesses us for it.
    Thank you for a beautiful post, Ali! 🙂

    1. I think it’s only human to look for validation, and we don’t always naturally turn to God for it. It is a fine line isn’t it, with ministry/service.. we want to bless others and do a good job but we also want God to be our “audience of one” and seek his guidance above all. I’ve found things are a lot smoother when I do that too! Great thoughts.

  3. I’d like to think my dreams were duck egg blue and orange, (that would link them to Gulf Racing cars of my teenage years) but for me the content of my dreams is fascinating.

    I regularly have (and recall) fascinating dreams, and sometimes pass them on. I was in Church on Sunday where a man in his eighties was preaching (very well) and he illustrated his faith with a dream he’d had just a few days ago.

    a dream which illustrated that he and his wife were prepared to die at the hands of ISIS, and the congregation laughed!

    Brian spoke so well, and just what God had put on his heart. He wasn’t looking for popularity, but warning us that we should be ready to stand as His saints today.

    Thanks for your post!


    1. Thanks for dropping by, Stephen. Duck egg blue and orange – what wonderful colours! Dreams are such a personal thing, aren’t they – and there is a certain vulnerability in sharing them with others. Brian’s dream was probably quite symbolic of where his heart is in relation to God’s kingdom. Good on him for sharing that and encouraging others. I think there should be more discussion of each other’s dreams in church, in the sense that we aren’t afraid to share the call God might be placing on our hearts.

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