31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 19} – Made New

I’ve heard the stories again and again.

Each one so distinct and unique, yet, so similar at the core.

Something happened-

Many things maybe.

Something so horrifying it rarely,

if ever,

gets any attention in conversation.

Yet, it gets all the attention in the heart.

 

Neglect.

Rape.

Abuse.

 

The death of a loved one.

The death of a marriage.

The death of a friendship.

 

An eating disorder.

Depression.

Self-injury.

 

A monstrous mistake.

A horrific memory.

A crippling fear.

 

“I’m not good enough.”

“Will I ever change?”

 

The shame is too much.

The guilt is too heavy.

 

Forgotten.

Alone.

Afraid.

 

Whether it was “their fault” or not, the pain obviously runs deep as the story eventually flows out. But it’s not just “them.” 

 

It’s me

and

it’s YOU. 

 

We all have had those secret things buried deep in our hearts… those times when we seriously wonder…

 

Is there any hope?

 

Can God REALLY do anything with this messed up life of mine?!? 

Through the darkness comes a marvelous Light responding:

“YES! THERE IS HOPE!  I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!

No matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into… no matter what anyone has done to you… no matter how much sin has messed up your life and messed up your heart, I can, and will, through Christ, make something BEAUTIFUL out of your life! 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

Isaiah 43:19 See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Things
by Gungor

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll even find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

 

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 15} – LIGHT

It seems as if I have two parallel themes running in my life right now.  For 15 days straight I’ve been blogging about HOPE.  At the same time, God has been showing me a lot about LIGHT.  I call them parallel themes, because hope and light seem to have a lot in common.  Often we describe times of hopelessness as “dark” moments in our lives.  So here are some thoughts about LIGHT which, I pray, bring hope as well.

 

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LIGHT.

I LOVE LIGHT.  It may sound a little weird, but it’s true.  I dread winter each year with short, dark, dreary, days all bundled up inside.  The first thing I like to do each morning is turn on all the lamps or lights possible in whatever room I’m in.  If it’s ever a sunny day, the blinds get opened to let as much light in as possible. 

 

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I LOVE LIGHT.

 

…well … most of the time.

 

There are some things though that, at first glance at least, I think I’d rather leave tucked away in the dark closet that never gets opened.  I think we all have those things… the ones that are just fine staying in the deep dark shadows, because it seems easier to deal with that way, right?  Things like fear… like shame… like guilt and sin and failure.  Those can just stay hidden or at least in a dim room where you can’t REALLY tell what they are…. just that something’s there. 

 

But in reality.  As much as we REALLY want to just keep those things in the dark, at the same time, our hearts also deeply desire the freedom found when those things of the darkness are brought into the light. 

 

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Ann Voskamp put it this way in a blog post:

I know the terror of telling the truth… I am far more scared of secrets.  Because its keeping secrets that keeps us from being real.   From fully being alive.

It is true: I am terrified to be real.  But I am far more terrified to be false.  Which would mean I cease to be.

It can be painful at times for the things of the deep dark places of our hearts to be brought into the light… but only then can we find healing and hope. 

 

God doesn’t desire us to live in darkness.  Instead he says:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to go, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

And in Isaiah 42:16 he says:

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them, I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. 

I find it interesting that the first part of this passage talks about unknown ways and unfamiliar paths.  The process of letting God shine light into the dark places is often uncertain… which is what makes it scary.  But I love how it then says… he will turn darkness into light, making the rough places smooth and through it all… OUR GOD WILL NOT FORSAKE US!  It may not be an easy process, and probably will involve some pain, but God never leaves.

 

I’ll close these random thoughts about light with two quotes that Ann Voskamp had in another one of her posts. 

“Never fear shadows.

They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.”

~Ruth E. Renkel

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?”

~Ps. 27:1

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31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 12} – Hope and Contentment… the Best of Friends

Tonight at the wonderful Philippians Short Course Bible Study at First Trinity we were studying chapter 4.  It’s a wonderful chapter which I strongly suggest everyone read.  (You could even do so right now by clicking here.)  Anyway, in summary here are a few things covered in that chapter:

  • vs 4 – Finding JOY in the Lord
  • vs. 5-7 – Finding PEACE to replace anxiety through prayer
  • vs. 8-9 – Finding TRUTH to fight the lies Satan gets us to believe.
  • vs. 10-20 – Finding CONTENTMENT in Jesus rather than our circumstances.

You may be starting to wonder what all of that has to do with a blog post that is supposed to be about HOPE. 

 

However, as I was driving home just now, I began to realize that “CONTENTMENT” and “HOPE” are very much alike.  Maybe hope grows out of contentment or contentment comes from hope or maybe neither, but in any case, many similarities appear.

 

Take a look at what Paul says here in Philippians 4 about being content:

… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know that it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 

Just like contentment, we learn to find HOPE no matter what the circumstance.  Hope doesn’t come FROM the circumstance.  Most of the time, if we look at our situation, we’d probably find more despair than hope. So while hope doesn’t come from the situation, we can find hope IN the situation. 

 

Paul states here that he found “the secret” to contentment, and it comes in looking to Christ for strength.  The same is true of HOPE… we have to look to something, or rather Someone, outside of our situation in order to find hope. 

 

Verse 19 tells who that Someone is:

And my God will meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Despair, the opposite of hope, comes when we start to think that there’s no way out… our situation is too big… to hard… too much… my needs are too many or too great.  In reality, when we can’t find contentment or we can’t find hope… it’s because somehow our circumstances have blinded from seeing God’s provision.  We start to let our minds wander and think, “Well, maybe God isn’t enough for me.” Our situation can, at times, keep us from realizing that our God is MORE than enough for us.  He provides ABUNDANTLY.

 

When fear and anxiety attempt to rob us of contentment or hope… we can focus on “whatever is true.” (vs. 8 ) And this my friends is true:

OUR GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF US! 

 

Provision.

 

Contentment.

 

HOPE.

 

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Gracious God,

We thank you for the promise that you will provide for ALL our needs.  We thank you that you’re not giving us just enough to survive, but that you provide abundantly, that You are MORE than enough for us.  When the situations and circumstances of our lives blind us and fill us with anxiety, give us strength and bring us back to truth.  We know from Your Word that in that place of truth… in being honest with you in prayer, your peace will guard our hearts and our minds.  That is our prayer tonight, Lord… that you would protect our hearts and minds from despair as you point us to Hope Himself, Jesus Christ.

It’s in His name we pray,

AMEN!

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Music

Joyfullyblessed… To Let Go!

For those of you who are still getting to know me out here in NY, you will soon learn that I love music (and writing really long blogs).  I love playing my guitar. I love attempting to play piano. I love writing songs. I love listening to music (of many kinds).  I simply enjoy music.  Whether playing, listening to it live, or jammin’ out to the radio in the car, music just seems to convey life in a way that doesn’t happen any other way.

 

Recently, I’ve enjoyed listening to Francesca Battistelli’s CD called My Paper Heart. While many of her songs are awesome, one in particular, “I’m Letting Go” stuck out to me today and seems to fit my crazy life the past few months.

Check out some of the lyrics from this song:

This is a giant leap of faith Trusting and trying to embrace the fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone

 

Chorus: I’m letting go of the life I planned for me and my dreams
I’m losing control of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling but that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me I’m not afraid

Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I”m falling and this is the life for me

“Trying to embrace the fear of the unknown.”  This phrase triggers many thoughts for me.

I think of my friend’s blog post that I read this morning talking about how instead of shrinking back in fear we can have courage to stand firm and go through whatever scary experience life brings us.

I think about the fear I’ve unconsciously let myself be held captive by this past week and the peace in being set free from it.

I think about the “What-ifs” and “How’ll” that were mentioned in staff devotions on Tuesday… and the many “Whatifs” and “How’lls” I’ve been asking:

  • What if I fail this year on my internship?” (While a ridiculously broad worry and very unlikely, I know that all of you, my intern friends out there, have had this thought cross your mind!)
  • How will I have enough money to pay for tuition and then after this, how will I ever get my student loans paid off?
  • ”What will happen after internship?” (Kind of long term… maybe I should at least let my worries be more time appropriate. 🙂

On and on I could go listing one after another, but they all really can be summarized by this one:

What if God really ISN’T enough for me?”

Well, when you put it that way, it seems really ridiculous to even think about.  Of course God is enough… He’s GOD!!!  But I still question and I still worry and long to understand!

That’s where we get back to why I love this song so much.  It doesn’t ignore the uneasy feeling that often remains when trying to trust in our Almighty God, the Ultimate Provider, Comforter, and Friend.  We want to trust, but many times, trust really does make us feel like we’re falling….but, as the song says…

“That’s what it’s like to believe”

And it ends saying that “this is the life for me.”

 

As God’s children, we are called sometimes to a crazy life… not one of security and complete understanding of how God will make everything work, but rather  one of freefall trust… taking that “leap of faith” and … giving in to “God’s gravity.”  In 1 Peter, God even tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised to face times when it’s hard to believe: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial that you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participated in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (4:12-13)

Below are some other verses that I’ve found helpful recently in this “freefall” called trust.  Maybe by holding onto these and the rest of God’s Word we can let God get rid of our fear and replace it with peace in knowing that He really DOES have everything in control.

 

God, please grant us the grace to be able to let go and believe!  AMEN!

 

Isaiah 46:3-4 “Listen to me… you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I AM HE.  I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

 Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might… free those who all their lives where held in slavery by their fear…”

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 6:25,27,33  “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. … Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  … Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

(The pictures are of me and a fellow camp counselor climbing to the top of a 50 foot pole and then jumping off a couple summers ago at camp.  They just seemed to fit with this blog.)