Signs of Hope

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“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Hebrews 6:19

A recent devotional from Our Daily Bread tells the story of a recovering addict named Elizabeth who leaves encouraging notes on the car windshields of strangers.  She often closes these with the words, “Much love.  Hope sent.”

#inspiring

However, a query into the definition of hope reveals a fickle and fragile relationship between “Happy Days are Here Again” and mankind.

Hope (n.)  the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.  (Source: dictionary.com)

Sounds straightforward to me.  A quick synonym check reveals a delicate situation, however.  Confidence, expectation, and optimism make the list, but so do day dream, fool’s paradise, and castles in the air.

Clearly, the world sees hope as less of an “anchor for the soul” and more like wishful thinking.  To Madison Avenue, the future is a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring;  expectation has an expiration date.

Thankfully, God doesn’t deal in pipe dreams.  The hope He offers has no shelf life, it’s a perpetual spring.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you.”  1 Peter 1:3-4

I’d like to meet the note leaving hope-giver Elizabeth someday.  She used to look for signs of hope, but now she leaves them for others.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces,  I would still plant my apple tree.”  Martin Luther

A Little Girl and God

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Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

My wife and I used to teach Sunday School at a shelter for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. One particular morning we encountered a sparkly eyed five-year old with a perpetual grin.  When we started the Bible story, about Jesus and the little children, she seemed particularly attentive. So I asked her, “Have you heard about Jesus?” She said no. Still sensing a connection, I gently probed, “Have you heard about God?” “Oh, I know God,” she said. “We take naps together!”

I said something like, “Oh, you do?!” and then continued with the story. But the rest of the day I tried to wrap my mind around what this sweet little girl said about God–“We take naps together!” I pictured a home, chaotic and out of control; a prison where a frightened little girl hid in her room to escape the negligent adults who were supposed to be her caregivers. She’s hiding in the closet (or maybe under the bed) sobbing uncontrollably, but then God Himself comes and comforts her until she falls asleep. And THIS is what she calls “taking naps with God.”

The miracle of God’s little slumber party friend was still on my heart when I said my prayers that evening. I started by thanking Him for looking out for her and for letting me in on the secret. But then, I just couldn’t hold it:

“God, do you take naps with big people?”

One More Night With the Frogs

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Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to God to rid us of these frogs. I’ll release the people so that they can make their sacrifices and worship God.”

Moses said to Pharaoh, “Certainly. Set the time. When do you want the frogs out of here, away from your servants and people and out of your houses? You’ll be rid of frogs except for those in the Nile.” 

“Make it tomorrow.” Pharaoh said.  Exodus 8:8-10

Near the beginning of one of the most epic stories in the Bible, (The Ten Plagues of Egypt: Ex. 8-11) this curious event happens. Moses asks the ruler of Egypt to let the Hebrew people go but Pharaoh refuses.  So God turns all the water in Egypt into blood.  Next, He sends swarms of frogs.  But when the most powerful man in the known world gets to set the time to take the frogs away he says, “Make it tomorrow.”

Tomorrow?!

Why on Earth didn’t he say,  “Immediately, if not sooner?”

Perhaps it’s simply human nature to hold on to something we know we should let go.  Just a little… longer.

An unhealthy habit.  A toxic relationship.  Fill in the _________________.

“I’ll end it tomorrow.”

The problem is, tomorrow becomes the next day and then the next.  And the frogs just keep piling up.

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When God opens a door, start moving in that direction.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Do it!

 

Embrace the Calm

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“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

People who study the ocean tell us of an effect called, “The Cushion of the Sea.”

No matter the storm on the surface, only the first 120 feet of ocean depth are effected; below this, the sea is as smooth as glass.

Today, may you dwell in the God’s shelter and rest in His shadow.  It’s a great place to be.

Embrace the calm.