And here’s how desire becomes corrupt: wanting derails into selfishness, greed and demanding ingratitude when we’ve failed to reorganize and receive the good that God has already given. Trust is at the center of holy desire: trust that God is good and wills good for his people. We trust in asking; we trust in receiving. Holy trust believes that whatever God chooses to give is enough. (Jen Pollock Michele)
I was sure the sun was mocking me, the way it blazed so bold and bright all day. I felt as gray and bleak as most midwest winter days usually are, my heart, overcast, threatening to storm.
My one word for the year, “Hope” flaps hard these days, like a flag in the winter wind, snapping and popping in sharp bursts, demanding my consideration. I’ve wrestled with resentment over its call to attention. The truth is I don’t feel all that hopeful, and by lunchtime yesterday, I felt near certain I would toss that word to the curb and choose another.
But it doesn’t work that way–not with me, anyway.
While reading in Ephesians I stumble across this prayer from Paul, master of the run-on sentence:
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, …
I write it in my journal as a question: What is the hope to which He has called me? I chase that one line down with 4 handwritten pages of sloppy confessions, dumping the whole heap of my frustrations and irritation out for God to read. By the third page my sin practically leaps off the page. My desires derailed into selfishness, as Jen so aptly wrote. It takes all that frustrated scribbling for me to see that ingratitude is at the root of my irritation, well, that and fear.
When I’m afraid I don’t trust God. Fear erects itself like a blockade between me and the Almighty. It sends me into hiding, ashamed, untrusting, like Eve in the garden. This word, Hope, is the very voice of God calling to me in the midst of the thicket–Where are you? What is the hope to which you have been called?
The greek word for hope in Paul’s passage means to anticipate, to have expectation or confidence–the confident expectation of good. I purse my lips when I read this, feeling a bit of mockery for how I feel the exact opposite of this. The ugly truth is that when life rocks me with uncertainty, fear swells like a wave and I forget how to swim. I toss and twist myself exhausted in the fear that what I can expect from such uncertainty is not good, but bad. I give uncertainty the power to derail the truth. Fear snatches the throne of my heart and reigns with hostility, anger and despair.
What is the hope to which he has called you?
After lunch I relent and let the kids play video games for a few minutes. I’m desperately tired but instead of sleep, I sit on the floor with my journal and continue my confessions. I’m certain I could confess for days without end. Tears brimming, I hear the answer to Paul’s question–What is the hope to which you have been called?
Fear begins to recede. Of course I know this: my hope is in Jesus. The hope to which I have been called is IN the one who IS hope. Jesus, the hope of glory. Hope requires trust:“Holy trust believes that whatever God gives is enough”.
Ingratitude opens the door for fear, and the unwelcome guest crushes gratitude. Fear plants seeds of doubt that God is enough, that Jesus is the hope of glory, and that God fulfills His purpose for me. (Ps. 138:8)
It seems the first hurdle I am learning to leap over in this new year is fear. This stands in direct opposition to embracing the hope to which I have been called.
God does it. He fulfills HIS purpose. I can be grateful in this hope, thankful for this promise that does not fail. If I believe this, I can rest in the unknown, trusting that God will do (and is doing) what He has in mind. When I remember this, when I snatch back the pointed scepter from fear, and invite Jesus back to the throne in my life, hope becomes not something to bootstrap my way into believing, but something that I can embrace with joy and expectation.
God has already given. Jesus has come and died and was raised.
May He teach me what it is to live in Him.
*Katie Orr has released 3 fantastic bible studies intended to help you dive deep into scripture in just 15 minutes a day. Check out her HOPE study HERE, and find the others HERE. Here’s how funny God is, I received my copy of Katie’s new studies after I had received my word “hope” for 2016, and low and behold, HOPE was among them.