Hope is being able to see
that there is light despite
all the darkness.
-Reverend Desmond Tutu
We were so ready for a break, my beloved Bert and I.
I guess we needed time away, time to unwind. Time to reenergize. Time to contemplate and time to pray.
We needed reflection time to regroup.
Bert has always been great about reflection. My beloved husband has spent years and years being a counselor, and he can always find the benefit of slowing down, looking back and reflecting on one question:
What am I supposed to learn from this, God?
Me, not so much.
Somehow the words slow down and reflect don't really describe my style of going after life.
Yet when just the two of us get away, really away,
I do slow down. I do reflect. I do listen to God in ways that get lost in the whirl of my life activity.
We just came back from a reflecting time. Eighteen
days in Hawaii. Eighteen days of warm weather, mostly in the low eighties. Eighteen days of eating every meal together. Eighteen days of walks on the beach holding hands. Eighteen days of prayer and restoration.
And for me, eighteen days of reading.
Not a little reading, mind you, all out reading as in...
You will never find me without a book in my hand. Taking notes.
Laughing or crying.
I may wake up really early, crawl out of bed, go make coffee, put a quilt around me and just read and read.
I pray about the books I will take with me. What would God have me learn? What direction would the good Lord point me toward? What life lessons does He have in store for me?
When I read and am quiet and pray... I can always,
always hear Him.
Loud and clear. Forceful and loving.
Heart-opening, if you will.
This year was no exception. Truthfully I came into this "away time" pretty tattered and torn. Oh, you might not have recognized it unless you knew me really, really well. After all, my outer exterior can easily project that "I'm just fine, thank you."
But on the inside? A bit of a different story.
So many good things have happened and keep happening. God loves me and blesses me and I don't take that for granted. I lean on Him and I trust Him.
Yet, while I only allude to very hard times and upheaval in this blog, and I only share the details of that with a very few people I trust completely to pray for our family, the truth is that the past few months have been as hard as I can remember in all of my 69 years of living. Hard for "my dearies" in ways that only God can really understand.
Being under siege is exhausting... physically, emotionally and spiritually. God is there holding us up, but it is hard. Really hard.
So it is not a surprise that the book that most touched my heart in this season of reflection is...
Hope Heals, by Jay and Katherine Wolfe.
On so, so many levels this book is a life-changer for me. I'll write more later about the life-lessons. Yet
it is not an exaggeration to say that I couldn't put this book down. The message of the book was a message I desperately needed to absorb and learn.
And then, as only God could do, I just happen to turn on the tv in Maui and there is Joyce Meyer talking about...why hope, of course.
I finally went out on the lanai, looked at the beautiful view, closed my eyes and said a short prayer...
"OK God, I get it! Thanks for the reminder!"
I always pick a word of the year, a focus point for me for learning and life-changes, and I always ask God for a word that He wants me to have. This year the choice was crystal clear.
My word and focus is on ... HOPE.
While I am by no means a Bible scholar, I always want to see what God has to say about my word for the year. Guess what? The Bible is packed with lessons about HOPE.
"May the God of your HOPE so fill you with all joy and peace in believing(through the experience of your faith) that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with HOPE."
Joyce Meyer in her sermon on hope puts it this way...
"Hope is a favorable and confident expectation,
an expectant attitude, that something good will
happen and things will work out."
Does being hopeful mean that tough and awful things will not happen? Not at all, they will.
Yet holding on to HOPE, because of my faith,
will help me to anchor myself in God, instead of me trying to "fix" awful situations.
Being filled with HOPE means that I am trusting that God will use every hardship and every tough situation for good.
There is so much more to say about my word for
2017 and what I learned through the book HOPE Heals. I'll share some of those lessons in upcoming blog posts.
Yet for now, what I know for sure is that I know that
the God who made heaven and earth loves me.
He is my HOPE and my strength, no matter what comes my way. I can cling to Him in those situations that are beyond what I know or can understand.
I can have a confident expectation that God is in the midst of it all and He will use the hardships for good.
Praise God! Hope can be the anchor for my soul.
There is an old Gospel hymn that I dearly love.
In the chorus it says..
"It is well...with my soul."
That hymn was written by a man crossing the Pacific
Ocean with his family. He wrote it after four of his daughters drowned. In the midst of the worst tragedy, he turned to God knowing that God was his HOPE and light in the worst darkness of his life.
So today I sing along and anticipate, with positive expectation, that it is also well with my soul.
God Bless and Happy New Year!
"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." ...