Tag Archive | hope

Chapter 7—Hope

Welcome to chapter 7! As always, remember that this is an unedited free write. Comments, suggestions, critique are welcome! You can read the previous chapters by clicking the links at the bottom of the screen. The link on this post should say “Chapter 6—belong.” Enjoy!

Chapter 7

Hope

 

Just as Cory walked in the door to take Erin to dinner, Scott’s text tone sounded.

“Car doesn’t appear to be in the garage. No lights on in the house. Knocked and no one answered. She must have gone somewhere.”

Erin swiftly composed a reply: “?? She’s never actually left town that I’m aware of. She has no family. Ugh. Why does she not have a cell phone? What’s next?”

Scott’s reply was swift: “We wait.”

Noting her worried look, Cory gave Erin a long hug. “Does that have anything to do with what you wanted to talk about?”

“Let’s get to the restaurant and I’ll fill you in,” Erin said as she waved to Adrian. He’d be closing the shop in less than an hour, and Erin knew she could trust him to lock up and set the alarm. They were a strictly 7-to-6 operation. They rarely had anyone come in the evenings.

Walking hand in hand the three blocks to the restaurant. Cory had been right and the restaurant was nearly empty. The hostess sat them at a quiet table near the fireplace, which was not yet lit on this lovely October evening. After ordering a glass of wine for her and a water with lemon for him, Cory sat back, giving Erin space to say what was on her mind.

“Might as well just jump in, I guess, “ she started. “Otherwise I’m just going to be distracted and you’re going to be curious.”

Cory grinned his reply and she summed up as she had for Scott just a little while before. “And so, Scott stopped by her house on the way home and said her car is gone and the lights are all out.”

“Guess she went somewhere,” Cory stated what he thought was the obvious.

“She never goes anywhere except to doctors appointments and here to the Village,” Erin pointed out.

“There’s a first time for everything,” Cory said.

“In twenty years?” Erin exclaimed. “I know it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but she doesn’t have any family . . .”

“That you know of,” interrupted Cory.

“OK, OK, “ Erin conceded. “You’re right. I don’t know everything there is to know about her. But her not being there on top of the voicemail message, makes me afraid for her. I just hope she’s all right.”

Their server came back to the table with their beverages and they had to admit that they hadn’t even looked at the menu yet and could she give them just a few more minutes?

Each of them perused the menu and made their choices. The server came back and took their order and left a basket of freshly made rolls with butter on their table.

Ever conscious of her carb intake, Erin declined, but Cory dug in.

“There’s not much we can do at this point,” Cory pointed out. “She’s not reachable since she has no cell phone. We can’t jump to the assumption that she’s come to harm.”

Erin sipped her wine and looked around the dim restaurant. It was one of the nicer places in the Village, known for it’s crab legs and fresh caught fish, since it was so near the ocean. Other couples were scattered around the room, and it looked like there were a couple of business meetings going on.

“What are you thinkin’?” Cory broke in on her reverie.

“I don’t know,” Erin responded. “I just feel a little helpless.”

Reaching over to take her hand, Cory stayed silent, yet communicated his sympathy with his green eyes.

“I’ll give it a couple of days,” Erin said as their server approached with their food. “But if she doesn’t show up, we’re going to need to do something.”

 

 

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Bright Hope For Tomorrow

Today’s 10-minute Tuesday post is about hope.

104_0443Without hope, I think we would live in despair. If we never thought that things would get any better, that we would always be sick, or in debt, or single, or in a bad marriage, then there would be very little reason for us to want to go on living.

We can hope for things that we will never get. When I was younger, and actually still often today, I hoped that I would be able to get a horse. I’ve always loved them. I’ve always wanted one. But we’ve never lived anywhere I could have one, nor have we had the finances to be able to keep one.

But still I hoped.

But that kind of hope seems different. It’s more like a wish. A desire. Something I really IMG_7796-B&Wwant but that I could live without.

There’s an old hymn that says “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth; thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with 10,000 beside” (“Great is They Faithfulness,” Thomas Chisolm and William Runyon, 1923).

“Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.”

That’s hope. To know that Jesus is with us all the way giving us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

Our circumstances might never change, but we have the hope of heaven set before us. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character IMG_3468produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Oh, bright hope for tomorrow. One day at a time.

Don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on Jesus.

 

Horse photo is of Prince, by JacobRohrPhotography

These 3 Remain

IMG_5453And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV).

These famous words, often heard in wedding ceremonies, can easily get lost in the familiarity of them. But their significance, penned by the Apostle Paul prompted by the Holy Spirit, could radically change the way we do things.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.” (v. 1)

That means if I go and feed the homeless, they might get fed, but if I don’t sincerely love them and desire to build a relationship there, then it really means nothing.

If I serve my family by making a delicious organic dinner every night, but I grumble about having to go grocery shopping or slaving over that hot stove, then that food might as well be poison in their bellies. Yes, it will sustain their bodies, but what will it have done for their souls?

These 3 remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.IMG_0654

Faith: taking God at His word. Not just believing IN God, but believing God. Believing what He says about me, about the worth of others, about salvation and redemption and grace.

Hope: to know that the future is in His hands, that there is a better place prepared for us, that God wins in the end.

And Love: powerful, redemptive, coverer or our sin. If we don’t have it, all else fails.

It wasn’t just a song of the 60’s; it was a truism: What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up, with the prompt of “Thirteen.” Join the fun!

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Waiting For Rescue

thai diver

TimesofIsrael.com/AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

All eyes are on Thailand as rescue attempts continue for 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped deep in a cave. Monsoon season is upon that land and there are warning signs up to not explore the caves during the rainy season.

We could be saying they got what they deserved. Why did they make such a dumb decision?

But we don’t say that. We pray. And we watch. We follow the reports and we hope for the best possible outcome. We feel the parents’ anguish as they wait for news. We applaud the bravery of the rescuers.

Thai parents

Las Vegas Review Journal (reviewjournal.com)/AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

And we have hope. So far, 8 have been brought out of their cavernous confines. 1 rescuer has died. 5 still wait and hope.

Remember in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from their collapsed mine where they had been trapped for 69 days? 69 days.

People around the world cheered when the first miner was taken out. We were so grateful they were all safe and well.

And most of us didn’t even know them.

Even before that, in October of 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from a well in her aunt’s backyard after 58 consecutive hours of efforts by rescuers. “I had God on my side that day,” Jessica says in a 2017 issue of PEOPLE. “My life is a miracle.”

Both the miners’ story and that of baby Jessica were made into movies.

And now, the world is focused on Thailand and 13 human beings who had to have wondered if they were going to survive. 8 are out. 5 more to go.

thai shoes

trtworld.com/Thai News Pix via AP /AP

When a British diver finally found them, they were so happy and asked if they were going to be taken out that day. Unfortunately, their deliverance is going to take time. Food and medical care were delivered to them.

And hope. Hope was brought in that day.

In the early days after they were located, some were predicting they may have to stay in that cave until monsoon season is over. You know how long that is?

4 months.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Darkness. Fear. Depleting air supply. Little food. All these things have confronted these boys and young men. But they have had each other to encourage and talk to and hold onto hope with.

As one by one their teammates and companions have been taken to the surface, how must those who are still waiting feel? Is excitement building or is anxiety riding right behind?

Will they make it out alive? Will they come back for me?  Who will be the last one left?

And so we pray.

You are seen. You are loved. You are not alone.

thai rescuers

kare11.com

We hope for your rescue because we ourselves are in need of rescuing from the kingdom of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).

 

 

Hold Onto Hope

IMG_2048Awhile back, I wrote a post about my avocado tree. (See The Beetle Within Us) I was sad to have to report that, after just a year of bearing fruit, the tree had to be taken out because it was diseased by the ambrosia beetle. Well, we had a storm more than a year ago that knocked down part of our back fence near where the tree used to grow. In removing the old fence, my husband came across this 18-inch-high seedling that had been growing from a pit discarded by the squirrels in the corner of the yard.

Imagine our surprise and our pleasure at finding this small glimmer of hope that we could still have a healthy avocado tree in the future.

This seemed to me a perfect analogy for the life of a prodigal: There is always hope that there is life left in those who wander from God.

When the new fence panels went in, the seedling was transplanted to our front yard. It was so small back then, and it was hot out, so daily, even twice-daily, watering was vital for its survival. It’s now more than 10 feet tall. It is surrounded by other plantsIMG_5551, yet given its own space. When it was still very small, we could watch it, we could nurture it, we could pray that it would grow big and strong and eventually produce fruit. All we could do was give it the best environment that we knew how to give; the rest was, and still is, up to its Creator. It hasn’t borne fruit yet, but we hope it’s well on its way.

I recently read a phenomenal article by Abraham Piper, the son of pastor and author John Piper, whom I greatly admire. Abraham was a prodigal for many years, and his insight into how to love prodigals back to Jesus is something I think everyone struggling with this should read. The article is quite long, so you can read the entire text here (Let Them Come Home). The following points are his, with my condensed interpretation.

1. Point them to Christ.Piper contends that the real problem with your prodigal is not their behavior, it’s that they don’t see Jesus clearly. Therefore, the best thing you can do is show them Christ. Their only hope is to clearly see Jesus and His love for them.

2. Pray.
“Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them in a way they can’t resist worshiping Him for.”

3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
Don’t pretend that everything is fine. Don’t ignore their unbelief. Reach out and keep reaching out.

4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike.
“No matter how your child’s behavior proves his unbelief, always be sure to focus more on his heart’s sickness than its symptoms.” If they’re not believers, they’re not going to act like believers. Hearts need to change first.

5. Welcome them home.
No matter what they’ve done, if they want to come home, let them. If they have any desire whatsoever to be with you, let them come. You are going to be the best influence in their life. Make sure you aren’t pushing them away.

6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Piper says, “Be gentle in your disappointment. . . Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.”

7. Connect them to other believers.
If you know another believer you think might reach them better than you can, by all means, get them together.

8. Respect their friends.
Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.

9. E-mail them.
“When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation—better than any correction—is for them to see Christ’s joy in your life. Don’t stress out when you’re composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s Word is never useless.”

10. Take them to lunch.
Have actual facetime. Even if it may hurt to hear what they’re up to, do it anyway. Your interest in them as a person will speak volumes to them. Make the time to get together.

11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Find value in what they like. Ask questions. Hear their heart.

12. Point them to Christ.
“This can’t be stressed enough. It’s the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.”

Be faithful and don’t give up.

 

Hope After The Oklahoma Tornado

found dogI just watched a little clip from an Oklahoma news station (Tornado survivor finds dog during live interview) after the terrible tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas. An elderly woman was talking very matter-of-factly about sitting in a small bathroom with her little dog in her lap when the tornado hit. She did what she was supposed to do, survived the storm, and then called for her little dog. She got no response.

As the reporter continued asking questions, someone on the camera crew notices some movement, or maybe a small sound–it’s hard to tell from the video. But someone notices a dog. As the camera turns, you can just see in the darkness of a hole in the rubble this little, gray miniature Schnauzer face. It’s the woman’s dog. Overjoyed at finding him alive, the woman asks for help uncovering him, and out he walks, probably frightened, a little dirty, but very much alive.

The woman, with softly spoken words of “bless your little bitty heart” to her dog, acknowledges that God didn’t just answer one prayer, by letting her be OK, but He answered both of them. A ray of hope amidst unbelievable destruction. There she stood, amidst the detritus of her former life–her entire neighborhood–and she knows that God is good.

It’s not just a matter of being an optimist, it’s a matter of having faith in a God who has proven Himself over and over again. Yes, bad things happen. But God is good.

And a little dog helps to show it.

Thankful today for:

886. glimmers of hope

887. healing rain

888. 4 more teaching days of school

889. the chance to stay at the Grand Hotel (location for the movie “Somewhere in Time”) in June

890. graduations

photo from CBS.com

A Fishy Lesson For Parents

IMG_1938

(I had the privilege last week of having this article posted on the website for Campus Crusade’s global women’s ministry, after it first appeared on a blog for hurting parents (see Hope for Hurting Parents). I wanted to share it with you all. The second part about Romans 12:12 I posted several months ago here.)

A few months ago, my family and I purchased two angelfish for our aquarium. My kids named them Michael and Gabriel, of course. They have been a beautiful addition to our community tank.

Well, about a month later, we got the surprise of the week: angelfish eggs! We had no idea. Evidently, Gabriel needed to be renamed Gabriella. I texted my fish-guru friend and got some advice, and we hoped for the best from this batch.

There was advice aplenty on the internet, and most people said to expect these first-time parents to eat their fry. They’d get better with each spawning. They laid the eggs on the filter intake tube, so chances were the tiny fry would get sucked up in the filter, if the parents didn’t eat them first. Or the other fish. There was danger everywhere in the tank. Why didn’t we know this? We were so unprepared to be fish parents.

Sixteen years ago we were also unprepared to be actual parents. Kids don’t come with owner’s manuals. All we could do was pray and trust that God loved our kids more than we ever could.

 Things didn’t work out so well for our fishies. One morning, all the eggs were gone. And sometimes, in our own parenting, things don’t work out as we hope and pray they will. But God is still God, and we have a hope to hold onto.

May Romans 12:12 give you hope that God is there.  He hears you and He’s holding your wandering child close to His heart, whether they like it or not.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Joyful: full of joy, as a person or one’s heart; glad; delighted.

Hope: The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds – His name is the Lord rejoice – before Him (Psalm 68:3,4).

Patient: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.

Affliction: a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery

“I wait patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40: 1-3).

Faithful: steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant

Prayer: a spiritual communion with God . . . as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.

“To the faithful You show Yourself faithful, to the blameless You show Yourself blameless, to the pure You show Yourself pure” (Psalm 18: 25, 26).

Which of the three: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12) is hardest for you?

Why do you think that is? Where have you seen God’s faithfulness in the midst of your struggle?