Growing up my dad frequently talked to us about the overuse of the word love and how that watered down the meaning of it when we said it. Even more importantly how we should be careful who we believed when they said it to us (especially in those teen years!). Several years later when my nephew was about 4, he and Dad walked into the McDonald's bathroom and my nephew declared, "I just love these kinds of toilets!" He was referring to the line of urinals. After that moment my Dad starting using that story as his example when someone else overused love or used it incorrectly. David and I have worked hard to teach our kids that we love people and we like or enjoy things like brownies, burgers, visits to the beach, and even public urinals! It's very important to us that one day when someone else tells one of our children that they love them, we want them to verify that its true and not just something they are saying because its easy and normalized.
A few weeks ago at BSF, the teaching leader talked about how we don't use the word hope the way God intended for it to be used. We shouldn't hope to win the lottery or hope it doesn't rain. Biblical hope is NOT wishful thinking, it is realistic, it realizes that we are broken in a broken world. Hope is certain and unwavering based on His ability alone. It is unshakeable when centered on His character and if I despair it is a clear symptom of my misplaced hope. Hope in God and His promises should propel and sustain me. My toes were stomped on or like our pastor says, I think she was a little too much like Mr. Rogers and all up in my neighborhood. It was time for David and I to evaluate our use of the word HOPE.
Do you see an endless Hope or a hopeless future? (Just let that sit with you a moment. I think your thoughts or worries of the right now will give you the answer. Know that faith doesn't erase doubt, insecurity, confusion, or hurt... it will overcome them.)
My endless hope is found in Jesus Christ and I hope the way I live shows that in my day to day. I have to give myself the permission to trust God to use me as I hope in the eternal future He has promised me. God knows. I got this card in the mail a month or so ago when I had hurt my back and had another blown blood vessel in my eye and I was struggling in my day to day. I took a picture of it so I could use it when I wrote my next post... I wasn't sure what that needed to look like yet. I put quite a lot of prayer into these posts. I also had no idea how much the saying would mean to me now since we lost my Dad.
When we were planning my Dad's memorial service we knew that we wanted it to be evangelical. We wanted everyone that attended to know the same Jesus that we know and follow that gives us hope in these very grim days. The pastor said, "Well, I keep a message of hope prepared that I would like to share since I've talked with your Dad and know that he had his hope for a future rested in his relationship with Jesus." That's exactly what we wanted. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 The Message (MSG) says, "And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus." So we have a hope that promises that we will see my Dad again in heaven. We can grieve. As a matter of fact, we wouldn't grieve his going on to heaven before us if we didn't love him so deeply and miss him so very much. Grief isn't wrong, its normal and natural and it hurts! Give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances is what we are taught later in 1 Thess. 5:18.
I'm trying not to be ashamed of my sheer exhaustion and my endless tears. I need to see it as an opportunity for Him to take charge and give me real rest and peace. I'm trying to follow the instruction in Psalm 42:11 to "put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." If you are praying for me will you please pray Romans 15:13 that says, "May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Kirstyn sang this song by MercyMe at camp this summer and then decided on the way to Arkansas that she wanted to sing it at her Pappy's memorial service. When she started crying and couldn't get the second verse out, our sweet James (that never sings!) sang every word from the front pew at the top of his lungs until she collected herself and finished the song. We are so proud of the young woman she is as she matures in her relationship with Christ. So we will continue to pray... Jesus, Bring the Rain!
Here is the link to Kirstyn singing this summer!