Sunday, June 14, 2009

Finding Grace

I finished my reading of Catherine Martin's Passionate Prayer last night (review will come next weekend), and I learned something interesting. I was looking up several verses to write down what I learned about hope, and I noticed something. Phrases like: put your hope, keep on hoping, I will hope kept popping up.

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord! Psalm 31:24

But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71: 14

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:24

While the rest of each verse was filled with wonderful promises, I was stopped short by those small verbs: will, put, keep. Each one is an action, one that I am compelled to make.

The last two verses had something different to say:

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

These passages say that the Scriptures give us hope and that God is the source of all hope. I know that faith is a gift from God; it's not something that we possess ourselves, He provides it to us, but I've never given any thought to the idea that God may also be the one to give me hope.

My thoughts came together as I wrote in my journal; there seemed to be a kind of process for hope, and the first step must be mine. I need to make the decision to put my hope, keep my hope in the Lord. It's a choice I make: do I place my hope in Him or not? Then, if I've put my hope in Him, He follows through by giving me the very hope I need to get me through. And when my patience is running low, the Scripture offers hope and encouragement while I wait for Him to fulfill His promises. This means that hope is a two way street. I can depend upon Him to not only answer my prayers, but to fill me with hope while I wait. Most of the work is actually done by God, not me, but I have to take that essential first step: believe. Believe that He loves me enough to provide enough hope when I've bottomed out and have not an ounce left.

It's funny, I read the verses last night and processed it intellectually, even mentally wrote portions of the blog, but it didn't truly sink in until this afternoon. Another one of those emotional bombs exploded, and I can't seem to stop crying. To get my mind off of it, I started blogging and as I wrote the words I had written last night, I found that once again, God had provided the perfect message in the perfect time for me. I'm in desperate need of hope. And so I choose to hope knowing that He will supply in His abundance.

Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere is a powerful memoir with a message of God and grace in your life. VanLiere was sexually abused as a child and compartmentalized it as her own fault making relationships difficult in her adult life. After facing multiple miscarriages and infertility, along with constant upheaval in her professional life, she finally discovered the gift of writing that God had given her and began the long process of adoption. VanLiere takes all of the bumps in her life's journey and turns them into opportunities for learning, not just for herself, but for the reader as well, who feels like a good friend by the time the last page is turned. As the author of The Christmas Shoes, the author has earned a reputation as a terrific writer, but this book also shows her as a true woman of God who is using her gifts to show His amazing grace.

Today's pic is of the honeysuckle on the side of our house. I was playing with the camera yesterday trying to take artsy shots.