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Posts tagged hope

Writing this post has been hard. I have prayed about what to write, and I’ve tried to hear an answer. But I keep coming back to just one word: doors. What am I going to do with that? So, bear with me, and maybe we’ll find something together. Apparently, something about doors.

You know that saying that God doesn’t close a door without opening a window? I’m going to go ahead and disagree with that. I am in a season right now where I’ve seen a big door close. I love this door and I don’t want it to close. But there it is: a big beautiful door, slammed in my face. And it hurts a lot.

Even harder? I fully believe that God closed it. Despite my tears and protests, He, the one who knows what is best for me better than I do, has closed me in. But here’s where my disagreement with this trite sentiment comes in. I don’t think there’s a window right now. Not that there will never be, but right now there isn’t. After much praying, I have come to believe that God has closed this door because He needs me to be still. If a window opens, I’ll go flying right out. I need to sit in this moment and learn to depend more on Him. Y’all this is not an easy lesson. I am not a sitting still kind of girl. But I wonder how many sweet nudges toward stillness I missed before God finally had to do something drastic. It is also, unfortunately, not a quick lesson. I have no idea how long I’ll be in this closed space, but I know I have to be open to learning from it.

I was reading in a devotional book the other day, and when I opened to the day’s passage, it was about Noah. And because I’m human, my first thought was, “What in the world am I going to get from Noah that applies to me today?” So God hit me in the head with it.

Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes. A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them. (Genesis 7:15-16)

Noah didn’t close the door.

God did.

I wonder how that felt for him. He was in there for the long haul with no other door opening for a long time. I have to think he was scared. I would be a walking, talking panic attack in a boat full of birds. And the claustrophobia? No ma’am. But Noah was faithful and, of course, was rewarded. The devotional part of the day’s reading ended like this: “Help me to rest safely behind the door you close after me.” Are you kidding? Now I know how Noah applies to me today.

I kept reading into the next day’s devotional because at this point, I was enthralled. What else was God going to say to me while I was sitting in car line? The next one was about fame. Clearly this is not for me. “I struggle to base my identity on you, not on what I accomplish…all my tower building ends in confusion.” Well here I am being confronted by God in an elementary school parking lot. The door that was closed? I was basing my identity on it. And Lord knows it ended in confusion. I wrote in the margins that when it became less about Him, things fell apart and so did I. I listen to K-Love while I’m doing this, and the song that was on was Just Be Held.

Y’all I am not smart enough to make this up; this is absolutely what happened. When I wrote the words about things falling apart, these lyrics came on immediately: “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.” And then I was the lady crying in the minivan.

So, yes ladies, I do believe that sometimes God closes a door without opening a window. What He is continuing to open in all this is my eyes, ears, and heart. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s downright painful. But it is, like all His ways, good.

Julie Gurley

The Shared Promise

Anticipated Glory ~ One of the very first memories of my childhood was on a cold, snowing Christmas Eve in Montana. I remember Christmas Eve as a moment of “anticipation.” With over a foot of snow accumulating, it would be one of the longest nights in preparation for Santa. What if I fall asleep before I could hear him on the rooftop? What if Santa and his reindeer could not descend in the depths of the snow drifts? After my preparation to make the “nice list,” it brought me hope. I was so eager to hear any sound of a jingle in the sky, in open plains or even take a peak of reindeer lights in the distance. The hope grew with each passing moment until he finally made his magical landfall. As promised, Santa made his stop, I just didn’t see him.

Fast forward to today, I wait in anticipation for the beautiful season of Christmas and what it brings to our lives. It is no longer just about jingles, gifts, or a sneak peak of Santa’s sleigh, but the anticipated and spiritual preparation for the coming of our Lord. Today, I witness those bright lights in the darkness and hear “Silent Night, Holy Night.” The child born of God entered this world as an overcomer. He looked vulnerable as any other infant, yet He could not be defeated, distracted or diverted from His mission. With our faith and hope, we know Jesus is with us, we just can’t see Him.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Gift of Hope ~ The world lacks hope. We have received new birth into a living hope that’s real every day. It’s living because Jesus is alive and offers to transform our hearts, minds, and actions daily. As we understand God’s forgiveness, we start forgiving others. As the reality of Christ’s sacrifice penetrates our hearts, we lay down our selfish desires. We begin to serve our families, our neighbors, and even strangers on the street. Although mundane, painful, and stressful events threaten to diminish our hope, Jesus renews our hope whenever we seek Him.

Christ is the gift of Restoration ~ Jesus was born to restore our relationship with the Father. He is everything we have learned from Him… hope, love, joy, and peace. The Wreath of Advent represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus. God weaves the promise and appearance of a Savior. Hope for the future, that we will be redeemed. Hope for the present, that we are not alone, but are loved and have purpose. Hope even over the past, that our failures are not greater than God’s power to transform.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

People need to know that Jesus came to bring hope, that He is our hope, and that our hope is alive. When we as believers speak of hope, we don’t mean a desire that may or may not be fulfilled. No, our hope is certain. Our hope for forgiveness, for reconciliation with God and eternal life, rests on the finished work of Jesus.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Paul describes Jesus Christ as “our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1) and “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). Jesus not only came to bring hope. He is our hope. We have hope because Jesus forgave us. Knowing Jesus brings contentment regardless of material possessions and joy despite difficult circumstances. Nothing can destroy this hope because it’s stored in heaven where no earthly power can touch it.

Is the hope of Jesus real and alive in you?

Merry Christmas,

Lynne Parr

When Hope Comes Down

It's November 6th. And as the classic Andy Williams sings, "It’s (already) beginning to look a lot like Christmas". There's already TV commercials on TV ads of people wearing their Santa hats and kids opening gifts on Christmas morning. Stores quickly got rid of the fall decorations to put up the Christmas trees, wreathes and gift sets of cheeses and perfumes. My daughter started listening to Christmas music before the end of October! Right now I'm in Miami, Florida and there’s even a tall building where I’m looking out in the warm Miami sun with a ginormous wreath on the front of the sky-rise.

On November 1st my friend, whom I share an office with at work, and I were also about ready to listen to Christmas music at the beginning of November, and we did for about half an hour, but we weren’t quite ready and changed it to some good 70s and 80s music. But now it IS time to listen to it because it’s after Thanksgiving and I personally think, it’s officially the Christmas season. It also means it’s the first week of Advent, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years – the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, when God became flesh and lived here on this earth for about 30 years.

At the beginning of November, I was in Miami, FL with my husband for a few days while he was at a conference for work. It has been the busiest schedule this fall and now that I’ve gone back to work after 17 years, it’s been an adjustment to what I’ve been used to. So, this was a needed break that I relishing and did the things that charge me up - reading, writing and listening. And since I was sitting outside at the pool, seeing this big Christmas wreath, I couldn’t help but think during this holiday season, it’s supposed to be a time for us to slow down, pay attention, listen, be at peace, realize all the things we need to be thankful for and the anticipation and joy of our Savior’s arrival. Even though Miami was anything but quiet and slow, I felt that way in my own little world there.

It made me think how life speeds up (probably over the speed limit sometimes), so much that we don’t have time to thank or reflect. We’re bombarded with extra responsibilities, shopping, gatherings, having to continuously warn our children they might get coal in their stockings if they don’t calm down and be-have! We’re bombarded with the world and the bombs being launched, social unrest, natural devastations, and evil. I can’t get off my mind the killing of 26 Christians while they were worshipping our God as a man comes in and guns almost half of them down.

How can we have any hope or peace in this crazy world, especially in the weeks to come when it’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”? Sometimes, especially during this holiday season, hope and joy feel like they've run dry in a desert with no sign of an oasis. It makes me think of Job in the Bible when he raised his voice and cried out in distress and desperation, “Where is my hope (in this crazy world)? Can anyone find it?” (Job 17:15) His spirit was crushed. He was in physical and emotional pain and now was pretty upset with God for allowing all these really hard and difficult things to happen to him.

God heard Job’s cry. He hears the cries of the loved ones of, and the victims in, the church shooting. He hears my cries and yours too as we sometimes feel frantic, overwhelmed, stressed or heart-broken. And that’s why He sent HOPE down to us. Hope that heals. Hope that comforts. Hope that restores joy. Hope that triumphs over our hopelessness.

On Christmas day, God gave us the gift of Hope. Imagine and believe this:

All of the angels lifted up their voices, And filled the night with Hallelujah's, God is with us now, Everyone come and join the heavenly chorus, Our Savior King is here before us, All to hear the sound The song creation sang When Hope Came Down, So let us sing Redemption Song, Let us worship Christ the Holy one, We were lost, but we were found, When Hope Came Down, When Hope Came Down. (Kari Jobe)

And you know – we don’t have to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the gift of hope just on December 25th. We should celebrate Christmas and Easter every day! Let's be thankful for the hope Jesus never stops giving us.