Because …

Micah 7: 7

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.  NIV

I Watch.

I Hope.

I Wait.

I Trust.

This is what my life here has become.  A year ago, I would have viewed all of these verbs as sideline activities.  “People who just watch, hope, wait and trust are not ACCOMPLISHING anything,” I would have thought.

But, accomplishing is not the position I’m called to play at the moment.

I’m not on offense, nor am I on defense.  Instead, I am part of a Special Team — watching, hoping, waiting and trusting in God for what comes next.

I’m not engaged in these activities from a position of desperation … I’m quite calm about it, actually.

The Message states just exactly how I feel, “But me, I’m not giving up.   I’m sticking around to see what God will do.  I’m waiting for God to make things right.  I’m counting on God to listen to me.” MSG

I believe that this is the peace that passes all understanding.  When I step outside my circumstances and view them critically from the world’s position, they might not look so good.  But, when I stay here, in the moment, watching, hoping, waiting and trusting, I feel like the rock that is at the center of the ripples … calm, steady and firmly grounded.

Many years ago, I was a Girl Scout leader.  Two friends and I had grown up in scouts.  We’d all gone off to college and gone our separate ways, but, after a few years, we found ourselves back in our hometown together.  One friend suggested that we should lead a troop, and the other two of us agreed.  I called our old elementary school, and found that there was a troop of Juniors (4th, 5th and 6th graders) that needed a leader … the school year was about to start and none of the mothers had stepped up.  So, we did.  We were issued six little girls, and by the end of three year’s time, we had more than 20.

On one of our first camping trips, I learned a very powerful lesson about children.  The concept of “Because,” is very important to them.

I had been assigned to help them build a fire.  Just as my leaders had done, I had each girl tie her hair back from her face before we began.  The next step was to get a big bucket of water.  I asked one of the girls to go and fill it, while I was showing others how to arrange rocks around the fire pit.  After a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t hearing any water going into the metal bucket.  I turned around, and there was the girl, holding the bucket, but making no progress.  I asked again.  She moved toward the spigot, but, didn’t quite make it out of the fire pit.

Finally, I turned to her and said, as calmly as I could muster, “Kristin, go and fill that bucket with water, because I’m about to start a fire, and if your hair catches on fire, I want to have a bucket of water handy so that I can dump it over your head.”  Boom.  The kid was off like a jackrabbit.  In moments, I had a full bucket of water.

Because …

I began this project with a strong sense that I had to stop worrying.  I knew it was a waste of time.  I’ve learned that God warned against it over and over.  I’ve learned it is a sin, that it is disobedient to worry, and that it shows a lack of trust in God.

Within the first couple of days of my project, I found myself in Philippians 4, but, it was just last week that I saw it for the first time, the “because.”

Philippians 4: 6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” NLT

Did you see it?

Don’t worry, instead pray … tell God what you need and thank him for all He has done, BECAUSE then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand … His peace will guard your heart and your mind.

BECAUSE

It was there all along … but it took me nearly a year to find it.  Both the clue that’s in the verse, and the true peace.

But, now that I finally get it, I can sit here — having turned my worries over to God, with thanksgiving — enjoying the view of the moment, while I watch, hope, wait and most importantly trust in God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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On worry and fried chicken

Lamentations 3: 19-24

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion therefore I will wait for him.” NIV

These verses speak to me.  I have walked a path similar to the one walked by the writer of Lamentations.

It does sadden me to think of all the time and energy that I wasted, worrying.

But, it didn’t eat me alive … God redeemed me.

And, His love and His grace are new every time I wake up.  He is faithful.

That last part, “The LORD is my portion,” is pretty powerful.

My mom grew up in a large family on a small farm with several brothers.  She tells a story of fried chicken.  My grandmother made amazing fried chicken.  Of course, the chickens were quite fresh … meal prep began by, well, stepping out the back door into the chicken coop.

When my grandmother would put the platter of chicken on the table for her brood, she would always say, “Now, no-one take the back.  The back is mine!  It’s my favorite.”

My mother was the baby.  The first time she fried a chicken, as I understand it, was after she was married.  She told me how after she had fried her first chicken and sat down to her own table, she took the back onto her own plate, expecting a delicious experience.  What she found was quite different.  The back of a chicken is indeed the poorest cut.

My grandmother had fooled her all of those years.  By making the poorest portion seem like a treat that she relished, she had guided her children to the best she could offer them.  My mom said she cried when she realized it.

My portion … the LORD is my portion.  Regardless of my circumstances, whether in times of plenty or in times of want, the LORD is my portion — the best cut, not the poorest.

The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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We are HIS!

Isaiah 49: 13

Shout for joy O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains!  For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.  NIV

My “hope” word search has brought me to Isaiah.  This morning, as I was looking for a “hope,” this verse jumped off the page at me.

Don’t fret!  Rejoice!  If you won’t do it, God’s other creations will.  Because God is faithful.  He comforts us and has compassion on us, even in the worst of times.

We are HIS!

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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It’s not impossible

Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. NIV

What a beautiful verse.

I love the promises here.

I love that things that are difficult (or downright impossible) for me as a human will be accomplished with ease when my hope is appropriately placed in the one true God.

God can make the impossible … possible.

God can make the difficult … easy.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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It can’t be cut off

Proverbs 23: 17-18

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.  There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  NIV

I read ahead.

Some mornings, this project is really easy.  I open the concordance, look up the next verse in whatever word search I’m working on (currently “hope”) and there it is, a reminder not to worry.

Many mornings, it is just the reminder that I need and it speaks to my heart in powerful ways.

This morning, the next verse on the list wasn’t a reminder, so I skipped to this one, which didn’t seem right.  I have only twelve reminders left to find, and I feel that they should be good ones.  So, I continued skimming Proverbs.

What I found was that Solomon has used this same phrase a couple of times, “your hope will not be cut off.”

It appears here in conjunction with an admonishment not to envy and in 24:14 in conjunction with finding wisdom, “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” NIV

Your hope will not be cut off …

I can see that this is true, and that it also is a reminder not to worry.  If my hope is in Christ, in the life everlasting that He promises in John 3:16, nothing that happens here can alter my hope … my hope cannot be cut off.

Cut off.

Sometimes, I think of that in conjunction with a knife — cutting off a piece of cheese.

My hope cannot be severed from me.

Some people use the term in the same way that I would use “turn off,”  “Cut off the light.”

The light of my life can never be extinguished.

I’ve used it to describe the premature failure of something, “The phone just cut off.”

My hope will never fail me.

My hope cannot be cut off.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Hope deferred …

Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. NIV

Hope deferred …

When I was worrying, that’s exactly what I was doing — deferring my hope.  I didn’t have time for hope or optimism, I was too busy attempting to control my world and worrying about my inability to do so.

The Message paraphrases it, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick.”

Boy, can it!

But often, my own disappointment comes from thinking something will happen a certain way.  When it doesn’t I’m disappointed.

Hope, however, is an active verb.  I can will myself to hope (in place of the verb, “worry”) even in the worst of times.

Because my hope is secure, in Christ.

I want to say something about that last part, too, “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When I was very worried, I wasn’t enjoying my time here very much.

Now, I am.

In my new world I do lots of things I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for.

Just last week, I met a friend for lunch.  She wanted to go to one of my favorite restaurants that is next to a very large highway.  There is a walking bridge across the highway.  I’ve driven under that bridge for years.  I’ve always wanted to walk across it.  People rave about it.  It connects one neighborhood to another.  My husband has even ridden his bike across it, but, I’d never been up there.

Instead of crossing the highway by car and then spending 20 minutes looking for a parking space, I parked at the edge of the neighborhood at the base of the bridge and walked across.

It was a cold, windy, sunny day, and I enjoyed every minute of that walk.  I enjoyed how the neighbors have worn a path to the base of the bridge, and that the ground is starting to thaw so the path is getting a bit soupy.  I enjoyed  how the ramp is engineered on a slow, wrapping slope, so that you don’t get winded climbing stories into the air.

I enjoyed watching and listening to the cars buzzing past below me.  And, I enjoyed that the other end dumped me out just steps from the restaurant, much closer than I could have parked.  It was a glorious experience, a longing fulfilled.

I once had a good friend who would often say, “You are easily amused.”

I am.

For a while, I suppose, I had lost the ability to be easily amused.  I lost it in a sea of deferred hope.  I was heartsick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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The hope is in the opposite

Proverbs 11:7

When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.  NIV

What I love about this verse, this reminder, is … well, what it doesn’t say.  To me, this verse implies the opposite of what it says.

“Righteous” (or “redeemed”) is the opposite of “wicked.”

“Is gloriously fulfilled,” is the opposite of “perishes.”

“God’s power” is the opposite of “his power.”

“Everything” is the opposite of “nothing.”

When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.  TRUE.

But, when I take the opposites of this truth, I find another: When a redeemed man dies, his hope is gloriously fulfilled; all he expected from God’s power comes to everything.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

 

 

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