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Tag: hope

In Darkest Night, the Brightest Light

by mymorethanme

woman looking out windowHe reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. Daniel 2:22

In the upstairs room where I daily go, I closed the door behind me and sat cross-legged on the floor. Cross-legged, cross-eyed, cross. A promise had been released, a promise had been received, a promise had been rescinded. What the hell? And I mean what the hell. I hurt like hell.

I wasn’t really angry. My heart had sunk deep in my gut and was sick. I felt abandoned, rejected, alone. Betrayed. Lost. I had felt the whisper breeze of freedom blow through my body and suddenly, rudely, felt the wind knocked out of me as the cell door clanked shut in my wake.

So I sat, staring out the smudgy window, searching wispy white feather clouds for sacred answers through eyes streaming tears the clouds weren’t shedding.

Deluged by dismay, a mudslide of emotion spilled from the pain pit I had struggled to stifle in order to be holy.

Shoulders sagging, wracked with soggy sobs I whisper-shouted at the sky, “WHY?”

The sky stayed silent.

It was day, but it was night.

And then, a new day dawned.

As I was giving into all-consuming darkness I felt, in the pain place, a stirring. A faithfully flickering flame still fighting for air. Dead center in deepest darkness I found love alive, still lit. I sigh-breathed on it and felt it grow. I felt its warmth. I saw its dance.

In the pain, hope lived. In the pain, life lived. In the pain, love lived. In the pain, promise lived. In the deepest, darkest night, light lived. My Promise had not deserted me. My Promise was devotedly mine.

Woeful whys turned to vehement cries as washed by weeping I lifted head and hands and laughed and praised and sang.

Wishy-washy doubts drifted away as bold declarations of goodness, faithfulness and love poured forth.

Muddy waters ran clear; I was cleansed.

In my body pain remained, however, my heart was healed. Still fractured, I stood whole. Feather light, I pulled open the door and walked out.

I was free.

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push. -Ludwig Wittgenstein

The Weight of Waiting

by Mike McKinniss

waiting room

by Chris Norton

I don’t like waiting rooms. They’re uncomfortable. No one wants to be there. No one knows what to say to the other waiting people, people whose paths would most likely never otherwise cross, brought together only by the need to be waiting at the same time at the same place for the same reason, and uncomfortably, may I add, because who, after all, likes waiting?  We want to get to what we’re waiting for and then move on to the next thing we’re waiting for.

We’re always waiting. We wake and wait. We wait for our coffee. We wait for the car to warm up. We wait for our lunch break. We wait for quittin’ time. We wait for our paychecks. We wait for the weekend. We wait and we wait and we wait some more. Life is one big waiting room and we’re all sitting here together—waiting.

Sometimes we wait for big things: A longed for spouse, a life-changing call, a critically needed cure. That’s when the waiting gets really uncomfortable. I mean, squirm in your seat, pace the floor, glue your eyes to the clock uncomfortable. And what do you say to someone whose watched pot just won’t boil? Heck, whose burner doesn’t even seem to be turned on? What do you say then?

Don’t lose hope. Oh, I know, this can sound so cliche. So pat. So darn trite. But it’s true. There is hope. Where there’s life, there’s always hope.

In this season of Advent, of expectant waiting, as we wait for what is coming and remember what has come, we can wait with hope, peace and, yes, even joy. As we look back and celebrate the birth of the baby King who changed everything, we can look ahead and await His second coming. When all waiting will cease. When all hope will be fulfilled. When everything will change once more.

In the meantime, how exactly can we wait with that aforementioned, seemingly elusive hope, peace and joy? I just finished reading a book in which the author laid out three seasons of time: chronos—the progression of chronological time; kairos—the right, strategic, opportune, now time; and pleroma—the fullness of time. He likened these seasons to pregnancy, labor and birth.

Notice before fulfillment comes waiting. It is, to some, the most difficult part. The expectant mother may experience uncomfortable weight gain, swelling, nausea, mood swings, back pain, and sleepless nights, but growing inside her is a promise so precious, so pure, so lovely and true, and herein lies hope swollen with joy. We await the holding of our promise, the seeing with our own eyes, but never again will we be quite so intimately involved. Never again will we hold this promise inside our being—growing, protecting, nurturing, sharing, feeling two-as-one, in such a miraculously inter-connected way.

When my promises are born I revel in holding them in my arms, looking into their eyes, smelling their sweet scents, caressing their velvety skin; yet I mourn my empty womb. I long for the fullness and flutters; I miss the intricate intimacy, the unhindered unity we share during those long nine months I’d wished would hurry up and get over with.

I learned the importance of embracing each season. The beauty of being pregnant with promise. The birth will come, but cherish the waiting. It is a season of great importance, of absolute necessity. Without proper preparation promises may be lost. We must trust the once baby King who holds the seasons in His hands, who knows all too well the trials, and triumphs, of waiting.

Rest assured: We don’t sit alone in our waiting rooms. We are with Immanuel; God is with us. We can wait with faith, confident of what we hope for, sure of what we have yet to see, knowing we are waiting with One who will never leave us, who is well acquainted with sorrows, whose glory will soon be revealed. In Him we find our ultimate fulfillment. In Him we find hope, peace and joy, yes, even in the waiting.

Reality Television, Nelson Mandela, and Hope

by Mike McKinniss

reality-tvMany of us believe that in order to really be doing well in life, to truly feel like they are thriving, our circumstances–health, job performance, finances, love life, etc.–must be running more or less smoothly. We typically believe that things will be going well internally when things are going well externally. But this is not so.

Spend just ten mind-numbing minutes watching any kind of celebrity reality television, and you will not only relinquish your soul, but you will also find that you can have everything going for you and still be utterly miserable, no matter how shiny your Bentley.

Conversely, some of the poorest and most oppressed still retain an inner vibrancy that many long for. The late South African president Nelson Mandela comes to mind as one who, even while unjustly imprisoned for 27 years, seemed to effuse promise.

No, it is not positive circumstances, ultimately, that provides real buoyancy, but hope.

Hope, the expectation, regardless of external circumstances, that something good is coming, can at least keep us moving and at best give us the industrious purpose we need to push through difficult times towards a better future.

In my own journey, I have found that hope is indeed vital, but far more important is the actual locus of that hope.  Or perhaps I should say that where I’ve centered my hope has been critical to actually maintaining that hope and, with it, some vitality.

Too often, I tend to place my hope in some specific outcome. Following an interview, I’m eager for the job offer. I make a request of a friend and then I hope for a favorable response. Yet I find with alarming regularity that my vision is so narrow that I’ve completely misread the situation at hand and the outcome I had desired does not occur, nor was it ever likely to.

Far better to place my hope not in a particular result, but in God and his good character, without concerning myself too much with the particulars of where things land.

Everyone’s favorite keep-your-chin-up verse is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). It is a salient reminder that even in the midst of the worst of circumstances, the Creator is tirelessly pursuing good. (And by good, we mean those things that bring life and peace and righteousness, which isn’t always a brand new convertible.)

What this means, in part, is that while I cannot always expect the Lord to bring about exactly the things I might hope for in a given situation, I must believe that he is always up to something good, even if I cannot yet see it and even if it is not what I had originally hoped. Far better to hope in God’s constant goodness than in the fickleness of anything else.

Armed with that knowledge, then, I think I could face just about anything, even possibly a night of celebrity reality television.

Don’t Allow Your Heart to Get Old

by mandyade

Image from polysyllabicprofundities.com

Image from polysyllabicprofundities.com

“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

Zechariah and Elizabeth were barren –they prayed and waited for years for the  but it never seemed to come. Finally, an angel appeared to Zechariah in answer to his prayers, but Zechariah’s heart struggled to believe. His response to this heavenly encounter was, “How can I be sure of this?” He had believed once, but had seen no answers; gradually he had stopped hoping and developed an unbelieving heart.

Zechariah’s unbelief worked against the promise; his powerful mouth was silenced until his heart came into agreement with God. When he finally made a public declaration of his agreement with God his tongue was loosed. Now he was able to speak into the promise of God.

We can unintentionally become like Zechariah.  When our promises goes unfulfilled for years, our hearts may begin to age just like our body. It may become calloused, weary and hopeless. Losing hope ages our heart like time ages our body. When it is too painful to keep hoping we might build up a thick skin against hope in an effort to protect ourselves from disappointment.

But, it’s easy to hope when you have never been disappointed, that’s why children can believe in anything. Once disappointments start to come many of us lose our hope. We not only lose hope in our prayers being answered but sometimes we lose hope in God.

So how do we maintain our hope when we have waited for a lifetime? The answer lies in where we place our hope – our hope must not be placed in the promise but in the God of the promise. He is the source of all good promises and He cannot fail.

When weariness tries to make you old, position your heart to become young again.

Receive your childlike heart by meditating on the following:

1. God is my kind Father who favors me and is tender toward me.

2. My life is vulnerable before my Father because He is my hope and safety.

3. Father’s goodness is over my life (no matter what I see or feel) because He is good and faithful to me.

A childlike heart will naturally be able to believe. Now when your body ages and promises seem far away, your heart will be kept young and you will be like the young girl Mary who was able to grasp her life-altering word from God with joy!

To learn more about Mandy Adendorff please visit our Contributors Page.

 

Standing in My Mess

by ivyjonah

desparate-motherby Linda J. Maynard

“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? Job 6:11

Have you witnessed people continuing in their destructive behaviors simply because it was familiar? It doesn’t make sense, but it happens. I know. I’ve been there.

Living a lie, I desperately tried coping with life. I was a wife and mother of 2 young children and found myself standing in my mess, feeling like a failure in every way. I became a closet drinker and mixed prescription drugs, thinking I could stop any time I chose to. But I couldn’t.

As my addiction progressed, my family surmised something was terribly wrong, but what it was, they were at a loss. Is she having a nervous breakdown…planning a divorce?

In desperation, I hoped I would get arrested. I never forged a prescription nor went doctor shopping. In my muddled thinking, I concluded if they arrested me, the madness would end. Sadly, life became so painful that I wanted out. I would have gone through with the suicide,  but one thing held me back – the utter brokeness on my parents faces when my youngest brother, Kenny, died six months previously from an overdose. In that one lucid moment, their pain vividly imprinted on my mind, I knew I couldn’t cause them the that sort of pain again.

God saw my silent desperation and heard the cry of my heart.

Hospitalized for medical reasons other than my addictions, God placed me in a room with another alcoholic. As the substance abuse counselor interviewed my yellow-skinned roommate, she proceeded to explain the disease called alcoholism. I thought, “She is describing me. Help was available? I was not a bad person?”

Returning home, I made an appointment with this counselor and entered a detox treatment center where the Master Artist repainted my darkened world and gave me a new release on life. After thirty-three years,  I still remember how vibrant the deep greens of the  grass and trees appeared; so vibrant I knew that no lawn service could’ve created it. I’d been given a new release on life; a new begining.

Lord, I pray for those trapped in addictions, whether alcohol or drugs, pornography or gambling, shopping or overeating; set them free from themselves and from their addictions that they may be born anew. Lord, be their strength and give them life anew.

To learn more about Linda, please visit our Contributor’s Page.

More Certain Than “I Hope So”

by ivyjonah

hopesign

by Linda J. Maynard

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

I was raised in the Faith and yet in so many ways, the teachings I experienced fell short.

I believed in Jesus. CHECK.  I believed in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. CHECK.  I could confidently say, “Yes, I believe in God”. Those 2 little words were very telling, but was I sure about spending eternity with God?  When asked, I confidently answered, “Well, I sure hope so.” But, a little red-headed Southern child changed all of that.

Standing in Linda’s kitchen, her daughter, Emily, piped up in her southern drawl, “Miss Leanda, do you know Jayazus?”

Bristling on the inside,  I wondered what kind of person would ask me such a thing, but mustering the best northern hospitality, I calmly answered, “Why Emily, of course I know all about Jesus.”

After Emily’s bold and personal question, Linda asked,  “Do you go to church?”

Well, I was going to AA meetings at various churches, but the names of them slipped my mind. Trying hard not to sound like I was unchurched,  I said something like “Oh, it’s the white church…yep, that’s right… it’s white and small. First Something or other.”

Linda looked at me, blinked her eyes and said, “Oh.”

Future conversations surrounding God took a gentle pace. Linda invited me to her Bible study several times until I said, “Yes.” Little by little, I became comfortable; like tasting a new food and saying, “That wasn’t so bad.” Later, while attending a  Christian Women’s Breakfast in Linda’s place the  TRUTH exploded in my heart.  The speaker’s testimony rang true in my heart and it was then that I first realized I was a sinner in need of  a Savior and I said “YES” to the Lord.

I “hope so” left my vocabulary that morning and I couldn’t wait to tell Linda.

When I drove into her driveway, she was already waiting on her stoop. The Lord told her that this women’s breakfast was my day and instructed her to stay home for my sake. If she hadn’t stayed home, I would not have attended.

A little girl, a Christian friend, a Bible study and a Christian woman’s testimony all worked together for my good. God opened my eyes and helped me realize that knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Him; that knowing Jesus brings real hope and replaces all the I hope so’s.

So today, I will echo Emily’s words and ask, “Do you know Jesus?”

Lord, there are so many who believe You exist, yet do not know You. Let this season be one in which new seeds of hope-filled truth are planted and may we be witness to the resurrection and gathering of New Life.

(To learn more about Linda, please visit our Contributors page).

Always Choose C

by Rob Dunne

One year ago I lost my job. It has been a trying time that has required me to lean heavily on the Lord. At times I ask, “What can I do or what resources do I have available to help in this situation?” Every time I choose Jesus as my response; He proves Himself incredibly generous!

Examples of God’s faithfulness include $2,000 in Whole Foods gift cards, $100 in Stop & Shop gift cards, $500 cash in the mail and $4,000 cash. All of this was completely anonymous! In addition, our COBRA health insurance was paid for three months. While organizing our basement, I found paperwork from my old company indicating that I had a savings plan with $3,500 in it.

In Luke 9, Jesus sent the apostles out to preach the gospel and heal the sick. After returning, He took them to a deserted place for some rest. The multitude, starving for truth, managed to track them down. Ever gracious, Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed the sick.

Recognizing that the day was quickly ending, the apostles suggested that Jesus send the multitude away so that they could get dinner. In typical fashion, Jesus suggested that the apostles feed them. This situation was seemingly impossible. How on earth were they going to feed five thousand plus people?

When faced with a problem, often our response is to look at the resources currently available to us. For the apostles, they could a) buy bread to feed the five thousand or b) somehow feed the masses with five loaves and two fish. Completely lacking from their choices was option c) Christ.

The apostles’ response to the dilemma baffles me. Hours earlier, they had returned from a trip in which Jesus gave them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. During a recent boating excursion across the lake, Jesus bailed them out by rebuking the wind and the waves. Curiously, they didn’t factor Jesus into the equation when He suggested they feed the multitude.

There have been countless times over the last twelve months when I was tempted to rely on my own resources to get me out of trouble. Though it has been difficult, I have worked hard to lean on God rather than trust in myself. As the numerous gifts attest, God feeds us with manna on a daily basis.

Are you facing what appears to be an insurmountable situation? If so, look beyond your resources and choose option c). Christ is faithful and will always come through for you if you allow him.

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