Day Twenty-Seven: How Did You Get That?

One of the difficult things for me, about exploring hope this month is that I know it is a gift. It isn’t a result of some formulaic process. Through this month of reading, researching, and passing on what I have found. I have not yet found the miracle way to create and grow hope in any circumstance.

31 Days of Relishing Hope

I’ve felt a little like the kid at school, the first day back from Christmas break. Remember? Everyone would talk about what they did and what they got. Inevitably, there was the kid who would say, “Lucky! How did you get that?” How do you answer that confusing question?

It’s confusing, because getting that special gift has less to do with “how” than it has to do with “who.” Who gave it to you? Do you think they would give me one too?

I would love to tell you who gives me hope. He has endless supplies of it and would love to give you some too. His name is Jesus. Maybe you already know him, but find yourself needing a little hope-pick-me-up. Tell him about it. Take a little time out of your day to pour out your hopes and fears to him. Like any good relationship, you’ll need to be as honest and real as you can be. He can take it. If you’re angry, let him know that. If you’re hurting, tell him. If you find yourself doing something you know is wrong and will ultimately hurt you, tell him about that too.

The real truth about lasting hope is that it comes out of intimacy with Jesus. I can share the ways that he has helped me foster hope in my life, or you could get started figuring out your own ways with him today. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Most of the times that I go running to Jesus asking for hope, He gently points out how I’ve got the wrong focus. He shows me how the thing I’ve put my hope in is not him, and will ultimately let me down. He usually reminds me that he can give me that thing, but it will probably disappoint me. Yet, there is this thing in the intimate walk with Jesus that is so inspiring and full of hope!

31 Days of Relishing Hope

When we have cleared out all the stuff that wants to come between us. When I have listened and accepted his gentle correction. We are in that sweet communion. And he says, “Hey, do you want to come and do this thing with me today? Come with me.” I want to tell you that I then find myself doing things I never thought I could, and going to places I never would have imagined, and that is true. But the hope doesn’t come out of successes, or adventures, or even fun surprises. The hope comes out of the closeness to Jesus. And that, you can enjoy today!

31 Days of Relishing Hope

This is day twenty-seven of a thirty-one day series on Relishing Hope. You can find all the other posts here.

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Day Twenty-Four: We’re Squinting in a Fog

One of my favorite parts of the story, The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis, is when Shasta, one of the main characters, gets lost. He unknowingly chooses a dangerous road that winds its way up a mountain. The trees become more and more dense. The air gets chillier. The mist around him gets heavier and he is barely able to see. Then he has a very human reaction. He says, “I do think that I must be the most unfortunate boy in the whole world.” He starts into a list of all the bad things that have happened to him.  “And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.”

Then Shasta feels the presence of a “Thing,” a somebody, or a something, that is walking beside him so softly he can barely hear it. He hears soft breaths coming from the same side. And, Shasta realizes that he’s not quite sure when this “Thing” joined him because the breathing and the soft foot sounds started so gradually. He starts to freak out. He remembers stories of giants and starts imagining that one of these giants is with him. Then he almost convinces himself that he imagined all the noises. And, he hears a loud sigh and there is a warm breath on his hand.

When he can stand it anymore he says, “Who are you?”

“One who has waited long for you to speak,” it said.

At first, Shasta starts shooting questions at the “Thing.” He wants to know what it is and if he should be afraid of it. He starts begging it to go and says, “Oh, I am the unluckiest boy in the whole world!” The “Thing” asks him to share his sorrows. Shasta lists all of the awful things that have happened to him, like being chased by lions–multiple times and never knowing his mother and father because he was found as a baby by a fisherman.

“‘I do not call you unfortunate.’said the Large Voice.”

The Large Voice goes from life event to life event explaining the provision and protection that He brought. He explains that he was the lion that chased him all those different times, so that Shasta would be able to escape danger. He was the one that nudged the boat to the shore so that the fisherman was able to find him. Shasta has this incredible moment of clarity that ends in the worship of this great lion that had always been there for him.

I can’t help feeling like Shasta at times. It isn’t easy to walk blindly through an icy mist, or be chased by lions. It seems perfectly natural to lose all hope in those kind of moments. But like Shasta, we don’t have all the information. In 1 Corinthians it says, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

This is day twenty-four of a thirty-one day series. You’ll find the other posts here.

 

 

 

 

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Day Twenty-One: In case you find yourself looking for hope today

There’s this lovely part in the movie, Hope Floats where Bernice, the daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character says, “My dad says that childhood is the happiest time of my life. But, I think he’s wrong. I think my mom’s right. She says that…

Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too…”

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Day Eighteen: When Things Crowd In

31 Days Relishing Hope

At our house, we’ve been going through closets and drawers getting rid of all the stuff we don’t need anymore. Each kid had clothes in three different sizes. The garage is full of toys that aren’t getting played with and my husband had multiple pairs of dockers. He only ever wears jeans and shorts. We’ve been reaching past and stepping over this stuff for years. Why?

As each new room changed into an easier place to live, I wondered what took us so long? Why were we ignoring all this stuff in our way? I’m usually a purger. I love donating and throwing things away. It’s fun!

But just a few years ago, we put all our earthly possessions in storage for a year and lived without them. We only had our clothes and a few favorite toys for each of our kids. When it was time to pull all the stuff out of storage, we had mixed feelings. There were things we loved and were so excited to see again. There were things we forgot we had and wondered why we’d kept. And then there were things we didn’t bother putting in the moving truck. It was a little confusing.

To add to the confusion, we had lovely friends hand down wonderful things to us: toys, kids furniture, clothes. I really didn’t feel qualified to make decisions about what to keep and what not to keep, because I had been out of the “stuff” game for a while. So we gladly accepted the things offered to us and made them apart of our lives and closets and garages.

I think a similar thing can happen in the hope game. When we haven’t been actively hoping and asking God where to invest our hope, we will gladly accept the thing handed to us. All these hand-me-downs can crowd in and we can end up spending most of our day reaching past and stepping over them all day long. Like our wonderful hand-me-downs from friends, we need to make real decisions about what to keep and make apart of our lives. And pass on the things that aren’t for us to invest in.

Day Sixteen: One Way to Kill Hope

In the morning, over that first cup of coffee, wonderful ideas for my day start to flood into my mind. Does this happen to you? Sometimes, it’s starts as a slow trickle. Sometimes, it’s a crazy tsunami. And then before my feet even hit the floor (because that first cup is always in bed), I am overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things to do.

What I have had to tell myself is, “Calm the heck down.” It all doesn’t have to happen in one day. I often think if I can see to do it, I should get doing it right away. What I’m learning is that I can make a plan to do it first. It doesn’t have to happen immediately. This is probably a no-brainer for you, but this has been a recent life-saver for me.

My usual strategy looked a little like this: Get a good idea. Hit the ground running. Make everything happen as quickly as possible, putting all normal things like eating, cleaning, and shopping aside. It sounds so crazy, but, honestly, I didn’t realize I was doing this to myself. I knew that I often found myself overwhelmed and drained of hope for that good idea, but I didn’t realize I was working in an emergency mode.

My mantra for this year has been, “Only emergencies get to be emergencies.” That means that unless it is a real emergency, we do not have to put the rest of our life on hold. It has also meant that we have had to decide what we want our lives to be about: where we want to give our time and resources. And it has meant saying, “No.” I didn’t know that sometimes saying yes to a good thing would unnecessarily send us into that emergency mode. We would have to rush out the door, after just arriving at home. Hit a drive-thru to get dinner. Do a load of laundry at midnight so that we would have clean clothes for the next day. Have you been there?

This is one of the quickest ways I kill hope. It is very hard to hear the whisper of hope, when you are shouting demands at yourself in your head. It is even harder to relish in that hope, allowing it to fuel you in the very thing you are trying to do.

This is day sixteen of a thirty-one day series, you can find the other posts here.

31 Days Relishing Hope

Day Fourteen: One Who Stands in the Thick of the Whole Thing

31 Days Relishing Hope

Today at work, I spoke with a very angry person. She was tired, frustrated, and couldn’t find a solution in the options I was giving her. Through our multiple conversations today, she repeated one phrase. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” She would try to explain one way, and then another.  Then she would repeat it again. It got to the point where I thought, “Well, do I understand her?” So I tried to listen even harder. In between the words that she was literally yelling at me, I started to hear hurt and weariness. I couldn’t change the options I had to give her, but I could hear her out. Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I really had no replies left, so I  just listened. I even left some lingering silences just to make sure I understood all that I could.

Isn’t that what we all want in those hopeless moments in life? Someone to understand us. Even in the hardship of that phone call, my fellow co-workers started rallying around me to give their support and find her a solution. (I think they could hear how loud she was.) The better I got at communicating my empathy with her, the more her anger dissipated.

In this life, there will be plenty of times when things look hopeless. Times when solutions are hidden so deeply behind bad news and inconvenient life options, that we don’t even want try looking anymore. Been there. I’m sure you have too. But we have a steady and unchanging hope in Jesus. In Matthew 12 it says,

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”

In his book, Disciples Indeed, Oswald Chambers puts it this way, “Jesus Christ reveals, not an embarrassed God, not a confused God, not a God who stands apart from the problems, but One who stands in the thick of the whole thing with man.”

So, if you find yourself in one of those hopeless moments where anger is your language and solutions are nowhere to be found, please remember our hope is standing with you. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.

Day Thirteen: When All Around My Soul Gives Way

31 Days Relishing Hope

Here’s some old school hope in the form of a hymn. I automatically sing along in my head, but even if you don’t know the tune, the words are encouraging. It’s easy to dismiss hymns, either because they are too familiar or are written in older language. It helps to think of the words as a prayer. Most of the old hymns, like this one, end on a really triumphant note so I like to think about joining in with all my brothers and sisters, past and present.

When I was in college, I got to attend Urbana, the YWAM missions conference. My favorite memories were of the worship services, singing along with over twenty-thousand brothers and sisters in the arena. Because there were people from all over the world, we sang familiar hymns in many different languages. It was a life changing experience. I knew that there were thousands of other believers all over the globe, but to see and hear them in one place was incredible! It was a small glimpse into what we get to enjoy in eternity. So when you get to that last verse, try to imagine the millions who have gone before, joining in with you.

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,

I rest on his unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood

Supports me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in him be found!

Dressed in his righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne!