Hope That Perches In The Soul

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“Hope” is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul.”

My taste in poetry isn’t particularly sophisticated, but from the moment I read it, the poem about hope written by Emily Dickinson captured my heart. Many people use that word in a wishful way. The Bible presents a different definition for those of us who trust in Jesus Christ. Hope is a confident assurance, a conviction that everything God has promised in His word will be.

Not may be, WILL be.

That confidence, that hope we have, is often tested. Many times in small ways, and sometimes in big ways. Why? There are reasons God gives us: to produce a more Christ-like character, to produce a more enduring faith, to grow a greater trust, a greater hope.

In the decades I’ve followed Jesus, nothing has tested my hope like the death of my daughter, Lindsey.

Only twenty-five, she was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident. The death of a child is every parent’s nightmare. It’s a grief that shocks you to the core of your soul, and threatens to extinguish every bit of light that lives there. It has the power to do that. Believe me, I know that it does, except that there, perching in the soul of everyone who knows Jesus Christ, is the reality of His promise-hope.

We can stop our ears up and blot out the song hope sings, and nurse our sorrow until we despair of any hope. Or we can weep, listening to hope’s song, and allow the God of all hope to comfort us with the truth. That is our choice, our daily choice.

Hope is faith that looks to the future in confidence, knowing that God is true, and more than able to bring all that He’s promised to fruition.

There is eternal life in Jesus Christ. We’ll live in resurrected bodies and walk the streets of the New Jerusalem with all those who’ve believed for eternity, with no more sin, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death.

 

Our hope is certain!

Every single promise in the good Book will be fulfilled -just as it’s promised!

We don’t have to wonder if it’ll turn out well in the end. It’s a sure thing! Sure, because God is faithful even when we’re not. Sure, because every promise of God is true. Sure, because He’s abundantly able to do all that He’s promised. Sure, because He never fails.

So What?

All of the above is true, but if you don’t apply it to yourself, or your situation, it does you no good. Salvation is a free gift for the believer, but growing in faith and hope is a choice we make on a daily basis. The quality of our faith and hope depends on the quality of what we “feed” on daily. That quality will be tested when we face the difficulties and the trials of life. We can feed on truth from the Bible, on our own reasonings, or the world’s.

We need to preach hope to ourselves.

This might sound harsh, but we can choose to wallow in the painfulness of our situation, or we can choose to take hold of the promises we have in Jesus Christ. Ask Him for the ability to trust, and the strength you need to grasp on to hope.

We see this preaching to self in the Psalms:

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You…”

(Psalm 42:5-6a)

Hope is remembering God.

When we remember God, what He’s done for us through Jesus, and promised us in Jesus, we allow hope to grow. We become confident, even in our weakness, that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He will turn everything together for our good, that one day there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more mourning, but only joy, and peace, and love and hope.

Hope does not disappoint, because we who love Jesus are the people of hope.

We serve the God of all hope and whatever situation we find ourselves in we can have confident assurance that God is working through our circumstances. When we focus on Jesus, magnifying Him instead of our situation, we find hope -and the hard stuff becomes the very thing He uses to make the right stuff grow in our souls.

Allow hope to do its work in you and you won’t be disappointed!

Original artwork by Lindsey Kathryn Morris. Photograph by quotecards.co

 

What will God do to get our attention?

 

God found the way to become a priority to Jonah. With the world on lockdown, I believe He’s trying to get our attention. God used His prophet to save the people of Nineveh, because He uses His people to reach others with the good news of His free gift of salvation.

Maybe you’re a believer in Jesus, but you’ve been too busy to spend time with Him.

You have that time now.

Maybe you’ve followed Jesus for a long time, but you’ve never prayed for others who need Him in a regular way.

You have time now.


Maybe you’re a Christian whose been reluctant, like Jonah to share the good news of the Gospel with others.

 

Surely now would be the time to start!

 

About two thousand years ago, the Savior of the world hung on a wooden cross. His physical death was gruesome. But something worse that couldn’t be seen was happening

The sinless Lamb of God died on that cross at exactly the time when the Passover lamb was sacrificed.

Even though Jesus told them He would rise from the dead, His followers were devastated and terrified!

 

Those of us who have put our trust in Jesus Christ for our sins don’t have to be devastated or terrified of anything, because we know what happened three days later! I want to encourage you to take this time and pray for those people in your life who don’t know the Lord. Take every opportunity God brings your way to minister with the gifts He’s given you, in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been bought with a great price and are not our own; so let’s make Jesus a priority!

Snippet Study: Power

My purpose in this “Snippet Study” is to share what I’ve learned about discerning when the Holy Spirit is trying to get your attention.  I’ve been reading through 1 Corinthians for my quiet time, and today I noticed that the word “power” is repeated by Paul.

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Repetition is the Holy Spirit’s way of highlighting a truth He wants to teach us.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been lacking victory in some areas of my life and this morning I woke up feeling like a total failure. To be honest, I’m the worst person I know!

Kindly, the Lord focused my attention on the word “power,” because I’d moved away from the truth:

The Christian life is IMPOSSIBLE to live! Only Christ can live it!

Jesus said it so clearly to His disciples, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

No matter how many “fences” I build around my behavior or thoughts, I don’t have power to live in a way that pleases God. That can only happen if I rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the power I need.

The great thing about our salvation, is that the Lord has given us everything we need to live a victorious life!

Unfortunately, many of us drift into functional “legalism.” That means instead of intentionally yielding myself daily to the Lord and thanking Him that He’s given me the Holy Spirit as the Source of power in my life, I go it alone. The Galatians had that problem, which is why Paul wrote them that letter. They’d fallen from grace and were in bondage to functional legalism. When we fail to yield to the Holy Spirit, we lose power in our spiritual lives.

Each of us needs Someone to control us from within! As we “walk by the Spirit’s power” we have power to say “no” to sin.

Standards don’t make us spiritual, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit does! In His humanity, Jesus was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. We can follow His example each day. Before He went out into public ministry, He waited until the Lord anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5 we’re commanded to be “filled with the Spirit.” More accurately translated, “keep being filled.” That implies two things. First, there’s a continual inflow. Second, we’re responsible for whether or not we’re filled.

Around that command in Ephesians 5, some things are mentioned that cut us off from the Spirit’s power. Because we’re still in the process of becoming more like Christ, we still sin. God’s remedy for that is found in 1 John 1:9:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In addition, there are also some positive things mentioned in Ephesians 5 that we can do. We can cultivate the Spirit’s powerful working in our lives by encouraging each other with Biblical truth, sing praise songs and thank God. Getting alone with the Lord is essential to plugging into the power Source. He enables us to live in way that pleases God. The Holy Spirit gets our attention in order to teach us and encourage us. He makes us more like Jesus, and give us power to live a victorious life!

 

Learn more!

If you want to learn more about living a life of  victorious power, I highly recommend the book below by S. D. Gordon!

 

“What is the first great essential? (of the Christian’s life) It is this-the unrestrained, unhindered, controlling presence in the heart of the Holy Spirit. It’s allowing Him to take full possession and maintain a loving but absolute monopoly of all your powers.” S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Power

Buy it free here!

 

 

 

A Whale of a Tale

Have you ever had an incredible answer to a prayer you prayed? I’ve got a “Whale of a Tale” that happened last summer in answer to a prayer I prayed for my husband.

Surely one of the hardest things we can experience in life is the death of someone we love. A few years ago, our oldest daughter was killed in a motorcycle accident. God has walked with us as we’ve travelled through the valley of death’s shadow. There have been many miraculous moments of grace and demonstrations of love.

I want to share one of my favorites with you.

It was the first anniversary of Lindsey’s death and my dear husband was struggling. Work was tough, and sorrow is tough, and I felt like he needed encouragement. We have the great privilege to live on an island in the Puget Sound. There’s abundant wildlife all around us, and last summer a humpback whale was spotted around our island.

Eagerly, I went into our home office where Dennis was working and asked him if we could jump on one of our jet skis and look for the humpback. He reluctantly agreed and we pulled life jackets on and drove around. We saw nothing. Not one living thing! No birds, no fish, nothing at all for a good twenty minutes. Dennis stopped the jet ski in the middle of the channel between our island and another.

“Do you want to head back?” Dennis turned around and asked me. “There’s literally nothing going on out here.”

He looked so sad.

Without thinking, I prayed out loud, “Lord, would You please show us the whale?” And with what might be considered great impudence, I added, “And could we please get a picture of the whale with Rainier in the background?” Often hidden in the clouds, Mount Rainier was visible in all of its glory that day.

We decided to ride around another island. Over the next half hour or so, unbelievably, we still saw nothing. Not even a bird crossed our path. Dennis idled the jet ski at the island’s edge. We could see our house off in the distance. “Let’s just head back.”

I agreed, but before we could get going the humpback whale breached to our right, not more than twenty feet from us!

Let me tell you, it was an impressive, heart-stopping sight! We both cried out in amazement. Before Dennis could get his phone out, the whale soared out of the water behind us and crashed back into the water with a huge splash. He moved away from us while we slowly followed him from a safe, and legal, distance. The Lord answered my prayer, and as the whale headed out towards more open water, I was sure He would answer my entire request.

Why?

Because He’s my Father, and He delights in giving His children good gifts!

Dennis and I have learned the importance of praying specific prayers for each other, our children, our friends, and our community and to pray with expectant belief. Our Father gave us the gift of seeing the humpback because He’s delights in answering our prayers. Often we don’t have, because we don’t ask, or we ask with selfish motives. I can’t express how loved we felt, and how amazed we are at God’s continuing graciousness to two imperfect people He saved through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Last Picture Isn’t the Last Word: Grieving with Hope

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This is the last picture I will ever take with my oldest daughter, Lindsey. But the last picture isn’t the last word, because both of us gave our lives to Jesus Christ. This isn’t a hope I have, it is a fact I know with certainty- the same way I know the sun will set tonight and rise tomorrow.

Early one morning a few weeks ago, I answered the phone. When I heard the woman identify herself as the Houston medical examiner, I began to sob. Over my cries, I heard the dreadful words: our daughter, Lindsey, had been killed in a terrible motorcycle accident.

One of my sons heard my cries, and came downstairs. He hugged me, and we sobbed together for awhile, before waking the other children and breaking the news to them. My husband, Dennis, was at work. There was no way I could tell him on the phone, so my son drove me to his office. During the forty minutes there, I prayed, desperately dreading to tell Dennis. How could I watch his heart break the way mine was broken?

That day was the most awful day we’ve had to live through, yet there were arrangements to be made to get our family to Houston. I kept moving from task to task numbly throughout the day, stopping to cry and to beg God to change this reality and turn back time. I was so mad at my daughter for getting on a motorcycle, something I’d plead with her over and over not to do. Finally, I decided to go walk along the water by our  house. I ignored the thought to take my cell phone with me, and began walking down the long flight of wooden stairs praying out loud. I almost reached the last step and I began to declare my acknowledgement that God is the One who gives and takes away and I was going to bless His name even through this loss. Then I fell off the last step.

Hot pain shot through my foot, and I fell to the ground. I knew right away it was bad and I couldn’t help but cry out, “Why, God? Really!?” Managing to crawl up the steps, I made my way back into the house. Although we only had three hours until we had to be at the airport, my husband was convinced I’d better have a doctor see my foot before we left. We got to an urgent care and my foot was quickly x-rayed. Sure enough, it was broken. I dreaded sitting squished in an airplane for hours with no way to put my foot up, but determined to not complain. In light of everything else, it didn’t matter.

So, the Lord’s ministry to me during this trial began with a broken foot.

Once we got to the airport, my husband and children carried all the bags while I tried to hobble on crutches. Thankfully, a wheelchair just “happened” to be waiting by the entrance. I sank into it gratefully. We got to the gate, and talked to the representative behind the counter. She told usI couldn’t sit in the seats they’d given us, because they were on the exit row, and with a broken foot, I definitely couldn’t give anyone assistance. I sat in a wheelchair for about twenty minutes before the airline representative came over to us and said she’d upgraded my husband and me to first class. I was able to stretch my broken foot out and even sleep for a while, cuddled next to my husband.

People couldn’t see my broken heart, but they were kind towards me because of my broken foot.

Over the next week, as we prepared for Lindsey’s memorial service, there were many instances of God’s kindness and goodness to us. Dennis and I were touched by every one of them. Friends and family came from far away, and helped with the difficult task of packing up her apartment, of setting up the memorial service, and sharing their love and grief with us. There were moments of intense sorrow, and holy grace.

I’m not surprised by the Lord’s care and provision, because I’ve experienced it for over 30 years. He is faithful and true to keep every one of His promises to us.

Through the pain and sorrow of my grief, I see His mercy and grace are even greater than I knew before.

I have every expectation that there will be joy born out of this pain, that some of those who loved Lindsey will come to know the Savior, and that some who know Him and who play in the world’s emptiness will turn back. Even in my pain, I’m sure that there are a myriad of good reasons and purposes I don’t see, but my heavenly Father does. I’m grateful for the good foundation of truth that the Lord has built in my life-often through other trials. From that foundation, the Holy Spirit pulled truth and applied it to my heart in the days when I couldn’t even open my Bible. I’m grateful that my daughter’s salvation didn’t depend on her worthiness of it, but on the worthiness of Jesus. He suffered more greatly than any one of us, as He bore our sins on the cross. Because He lives, I know that she only experienced death as a shadow with Him at her side. Because He lives, I know that every day draws me closer to the day I can see her sweet smile and hear her delightful laughter.

This morning I read a letter a pastor named Samuel Rutherford wrote to a grieving mother in the 1600’s. The wording was so old, that I rewrote it in a more modern phrasing:

“You have lost a child; no, she isn’t lost to you, because she was found by Jesus. She isn’t sent away, but only sent before, like a star which vanishes from our sight, but is shining in another hemisphere.”

Because of the joy set before me as a follower of Jesus Christ, for the love of Him who is God over all, in my grief I also hold onto the abundant love and grace of God. For me, the challenge isn’t to lose hope in those truths within the Scripture, but to allow His truth to mingle with my sorrow-to grieve well, like one who does have hope.

“Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him…”

~1 Thessalonians 4:13-14