Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Than Wishful Thinking

Last week I had hope. Last week God gave me a verse about how He delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:10). Last week I prayed and lived with expectation that God will do all that He has promised. But this week, I'm wondering if it was nothing more than wishful thinking.

So, what's changed?

Well, some old acquaintances have reappeared: Conflict. Challenge. Comparison. Cares (of the world). Contentment (a lack of).

They've left me feeling hopeless and helpless, and I'm questioning the truth of God's word.

I mean, does this sound familiar? Have you been there?

Like God gave me this writing dream thing. I stepped out in faith to start a blog. Now, I've made plenty of mistakes--spent too much time trying to grow the blog--and in the process, I neglected some important people. People who love me, and I love them too--more than anything in the world.

I realized that some days I spent more time visiting other blogs than I spent with my loving God. And He's the reason that I write. Now, that's way wrong.

I had to make some changes.

I read my Bible before I read anything on the computer. If my darlin' husband is at home, I don't blog. If the little girls who call me Nonna are here, I don't blog.

As you can see, I haven't blogged much in the past few months. My blog isn't growing. My writing is limited to my journals.

How will I ever become a writer?

This dream seems hopeless, sweet girl, like wishing on a star.

But then I read what a guy named Paul wrote about a guy named Abraham.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be" (Romans 4:18).

See God made a promise to Abraham. Abraham dreamed of the day when he would see the promise fulfilled. He waited and waited. Still, no promised son. Abraham's dream began to seem hopeless to him.

Just like my dream seems to me. Like maybe your dream or situation seems to you.

But look at these words: against all hope.

I love this message! When we think that there's no reason to hope--that hope is gone--we are wrong.

Sweet girl, we will always have hope.

Against all hope, we can hope.

In spite of the conflicts and challenges that we face--in spite of how we sometimes focus too much on the cares of the world--what we're going to eat, drink, and wear--and in spite of feeling an occasional lack of contentment, we still have hope.

Our hope is based on more than mere wishful thinking; our hope is a person. His name is Jesus Christ, and He loves us with an unfailing love. A love that will never, ever disappoint or disappear.

Abraham put his hope in God.

Against all hope.

May we do the same.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ok, ok. I confess: I'm having way too much fun this summer. I spent almost two weeks in Miami with my darlin' husband. Can you guess what I did while he worked? Sweet girl, you know me so well. Yes, I went to the beach everyday! Hey, I've got a nice little tan going on, but my flower garden sure got neglected while I was away.

Especially my pretty petunias. Before I left, I pampered these flowers daily. After watering them each morning, I changed the hose from soaker to mist. If there were any wilted petals, I pulled them off carefully. I talked to my petunias. Just kidding! But I did admire them.

They were lovely and healthy when I left...but not so much when I returned.

There was no glorious show of purple and white blossoms, only sickly-looking plants. In order for them to become healthy again, I had to remove whatever was wilted or dead: blossoms, leaves, and stems. And sometimes, I inadvertently broke off a few healthy stems.

Poor petunias! What an awful procedure to have to endure. But if I don't take the necessary steps to help them become well again, bad things will happen. They won't grow or bloom, and they will be susceptible to enemies who will want to devour them.

Funny, how these flowers seem to try and hold on to everything. even if it is no longer any good.

I understand how the petunias may feel. See, several months ago God impressed on my heart that I need to let go. I asked Him: Let go of what, Lord?

He said that He wants me to let go of all that binds me, all that holds me captive, and all the things that I think make me look good.

Whoah! This is heavy. This is impossible. Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too.

But our loving God is so good. So gentle. So gracious. He's taking me through this process just like that. Lovingly. Gently. And with grace.

As soon as I'm willing to let go, He removes the thing that is wilted or dead or unhealthy.

Is the procedure painful? Yes. But God is the Master Gardner. He knows exactly when and how and what needs to be removed.

See, my petunias can't be or do what they were created for until the letting go process is complete. They can't bloom. They can't be food for the bees. They can't produce the fragrance that's uniquely theirs.

Neither can we.

God created us to be salt and light and to do good works.

"You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (from Matthew 5: 13-16).

If we're going to fulfill His purpose for our lives, we have to grow. We may have to let go of a few things. Even when letting go is hard and hurts.

So, how is your garden growing?

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