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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah 29:11’

Hope.

Such a small word for such a big, important concept.

Multi-syllable synonyms seem to carry more clout:  expectation, assurance, confidence, and conviction offer a few.  (Thank you, Dr. Roget.)

Stir them together and we can create a definition for faith-filled hope:  the constant, confident, assured expectation that God will see us through every circumstance until we’re standing before him in heaven.  Those are words with heft that we can hang onto through dark and stormy nights.

 

 

You see, hope is much more than wishful thinking.

But sometimes it hides behind the overwhelming issues we face:  health concerns, financial problems, troubled relationships, difficult circumstances, foreboding futures.

 

 

How can we live with confident assurance that all will be well when uncertainty seems to rule the day, the week, the year?

As always, scripture offers us insight:

  • Understand that hope doesn’t come from a hidden reservoir within ourselves.  According to 1 Peter 1:3, our hope comes from God, provided for us out of his loving mercy.  It’s a living hope, breathing energy and strength into our souls.
  • Remember:  we can move forward with positive expectation because He is our all-powerful, grace-filled God—loving, kind, and wise, too.  He’s not just watching from afar; he’s an involved God, tending over us like an attentive Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11a).

 

 

  • Rest assured that our faithful God will see us through to a satisfying conclusion—either through events that unfold over time, or perhaps through an instantaneous miracle.  It may be the satisfying conclusion will not come until we cross the threshold into eternity (1 Peter 5:10).  But then, in the glorious ecstasy of that moment, our earthly trials will no longer matter (Philippians 1:21-23).
  • God’s plan is designed for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Hope involves waiting (Micah 7:7)—expectantly and patiently.

Sometime during second grade I noticed that being a teacher looked like fun.  And soon my favorite pastime became playing school with whomever I could cajole into being students.  When necessary, dolls were pressed into service.

That desire to become a teacher stayed with me all through high school and college.  Finally, after fourteen years, I was the one sitting at my own teacher’s desk, awaiting the arrival of my first students.  My hope, my confident expectation that I would one day be a teacher, had at long last become reality.  The import of the moment was not lost on me.  I had to fight back the tears.

 

 

Such euphoric joy does not happen often without waiting.  We appreciate more what we have to wait for.  And frequently, hard work is also involved.

God allows us to be part of the process, teaching us important lessons about patience and perseverance along the way.

Here’s what I need to remember:

Long-term waiting and steady hard work toward a dream makes the fulfillment all the sweeter when it finally comes.

For now, we can enjoy hopeful anticipation of a new reality that is coming, perhaps in this new year 2018—good health, financial security, improved relationships, or fulfilled dreams.  We can take comfort from the knowledge that our God, who is unlimited by the constraints of time, already resides there.  And…

 

Through the dark and stormy night

Faith beholds a feeble light

Up the blackness streaking;

Knowing God’s own time is best,

In patient hope I rest

For the full day-breaking!

– John Greenleaf Whittier

 

 

Let’s step out into each new day breaking with trust and obedience, because God is preparing us for that new reality.

And may these words ring in our ears:

 

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him.”

–Lamentations 3:25

 

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What hope have you been clinging to?  Are there scriptures which contribute to your confidence and expectation?  What experiences of the past give you assurance for your hopes of the future?  Please share your insights below in the comments section!

 

(Revised and reblogged from January 31, 2013.  I do apologize for posting a reblog again.  Steve and I have been sick, catching a nasty bug on New Year’s Eve.  First I succumbed, and then he did.  A new post will be forthcoming next week!)

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.wikipedia.com; http://www.pixabay.com.

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Slow, somber music faded away.  All lights were extinguished, including the spot on the cave-like tomb, stage left.

Black silence enveloped us for several moments as the burial scene concluded, a dramatic part of the Easter musical production at our church.

In a hushed voice, the narrator picked up the story.  He explained that when Sunday morning came, women went to the tomb. We, the audience, could see them approaching from stage right, talking among themselves.

They peered into the tomb, and cried out as they discovered the body of Jesus was gone. No sooner did they begin to question what might have happened, than an angel suddenly appeared next to them.  I don’t mean, “walked up and joined them.”  No.  One moment that angel was nonexistent; the next moment there he stood, gleaming brightly.

How did the stage crew create such a startling scene? They used a scrim, a large sheet of gauzy fabric, behind the back of the tomb. When the tomb was lit from the front, everything behind the scrim was invisible. When the spotlight behind the scrim came up, suddenly the audience could see the angel.

That scrim-effect made me think: we live with a virtual scrim in front of us every day. We cannot see what God has planned for us in the future. Events of tomorrow—even this afternoon—are blocked from us by black silence. In his infinite wisdom God has determined that’s the best way for us to live.

But! After the fact–after events unfold—sometimes we’re able to look back to see behind the scrim, and note how God orchestrated events for our benefit.

I’m remembering a particularly difficult move years ago. We were leaving a much-loved church where my husband had pastored for six years, and beginning a new ministry across-state.

My personal challenge would be obtaining a teaching position in our new locale, at a time when there were more teachers than positions available.

But look what God did:

First, he “introduced” me to Diane, a delightful young woman—also a teacher. Her parents were members of our new church. Diane actually attended elsewhere, but every now and then would join her parents on a Sunday morning. She visited shortly after our arrival.

Second, God urged Diane to offer help with our unpacking. We spent a delightful morning emptying boxes and organizing various items while getting acquainted. I learned that she taught at a small private school, with just two classes at each grade level. The school was close by, too—only four minutes away. Diane suggested she submit my name for the substitute list. I told her, “Sure!”

Third, God created many substitute opportunities for me at Diane’s school, but fulltime employment seemed unlikely. No one was close to retirement; no one was moving. Meanwhile I applied at public schools within a reasonable commute of our home.

But in April, without even an interview, God prompted the headmaster at the private school to offer me a position. One of the fourth grade teachers had just been elected mayor. Trying to fulfill those responsibilities and teach was more than she wanted to tackle.

I started the following August, which gave me the entire summer to prepare. My classroom was right next door to Diane’s.

When that job opportunity opened up, it was as if the spotlight turned on behind the scrim. Suddenly I could see how God had carefully arranged the whole sequence of events.  My disappointment over leaving our previous home and church turned into a God-ordained appointment at that private school, one that lasted twenty-two years.

“Never underestimate what a redeeming God can do, “ says Karol Ladd.*

And keep your eye on that scrim, for the glorious moment when you can see how he’s been orchestrating events for your benefit (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

*from Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive by Karol Ladd, Howard Books, 2009.

 

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When have you glimpsed behind the scrim of your life?  What events has God orchestrated for your benefit?  Share with us your story in the comments below!

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“You have made man a little lower than the heavenly beings…

You made him ruler over the works of your hands…

All the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and…

All that swim the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:5-8, italics added).

 

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“Paths of the seas.” What might that refer to?  That question crisscrossed Matthew Maury’s mind frequently.

Maury had always loved the sea, prompting him to join the U.S. Navy at age 19, in 1825.

Life at Sea

The second ship on which he served, the Vincennes, included a library. Matthew was eager to learn and spent his spare time studying navigation. Sometimes he chalked out problems in spherical geometry on cannon balls. When the Vincennes circumnavigated the world, Matthew received practical experience in the subject.

Upon returning to the States, Matthew took an examination in navigation and passed. He was then appointed acting sailing master on the Falmouth. Along with the ship’s commander, he was responsible for navigating the course, steerage, and sail trim.

Next Matthew determined to learn about winds and currents. He discovered that no one had charted such information for the treacherous Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America. He kept meticulous records during the voyage and wrote about his findings in a paper, published by the American Journal of Sciences and the Arts.

In 1834, Matthew married Ann Herdon, and they settled in Fredericksberg, Virginia.

Maury’s life was certainly following a positive trajectory. And no doubt, as a strong Christian believer since boyhood, he saw each new opportunity as a blessing from God.

Plan B

But in 1839, Matthew was injured in a stagecoach accident.  The final result:   permanent lameness.  Never again would Maury be able to work aboard a naval vessel.  His career came to an abrupt end, and Maury fell into despair.

Surely he must have wondered, What am I to do, Lord? The sea is all I know.

But Maury did not allow his despair to debilitate him. He used his convalescence to continue studying navigation, meteorology, winds, and currents.

Was God behind that compulsion? Perhaps so. In 1841, Maury was offered a position as manager of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the depot for charts and instruments. This position was perfect for him, requiring the exact knowledge and abilities he had acquired.

 

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In 1852-1853, Maury brought together ten major maritime powers of the world. In unanimous agreement, they began to compile unified records benefiting all mankind. For the next thirty-five years, more than a million ships’ logs were sent annually to the observatory. From those records were developed wind and current charts for the globe.

Pathfinder of the Seas

Meanwhile, Maury sought for the meaning of that mysterious phrase in Psalm 8:8, “the paths of the seas.”

As he studied those ships’ logs being sent to the observatory, he compiled charts of ocean-wind and sea currents. He set adrift weighted bottles that would float slightly below the surface of the water, where they would not be impacted by wind.

Instructions inside each bottle informed the person who found it to return the bottle, with the location and date of its discovery. From his charts and experiments, Maury was able to determine the “paths of the seas,” including the Gulf Stream.

Pathfinder of the Wind

Maury also proved the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:6:

“Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns.”

Further study and experiments indicated that the wind did indeed move in circular patterns. Today we call them jet streams. Maury’s investigations led to a better understanding of weather, and predictions became more reliable.

Plan C

But despair entered Maury’s life again when the United States declared civil war. As a citizen of Virginia, he felt obligated to side with the South, giving up the position in Washington at his beloved observatory. Jefferson Davis, President of the South, sent Maury to England as an ambassador for the Confederate States.

After the war Matthew spent three years exiled in England. Many honors were conferred on him during that time, but his heart was still in the U.S.

Did he wonder once again what God might be planning? Perhaps he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, arrange circumstances so that we may return to America.”

In 1868, the U.S. offered general amnesty to ex-patriots and Matthew sailed back to the States. He accepted a position at Virginia Military Institute as professor of meteorology, a position he held to the day he died, February 1, 1873.

 

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Matthew Fontaine Maury, a self-taught navigator of the seas, astronomer, meteorologist, author, and educator, always sought to prove:

“The Bible is true and science is true,

and therefore each, if truly read,

but proves the truth of the other.”

–Matthew Maury

 

And though he may not have set out to do so, Maury also proved:

“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

With the advantage of hindsight, we can readily see this promise grandly fulfilled in Maury’s life. Yes, he suffered pain and hardship. All saints of God do (Romans 8:17).

But! God brought Maury through every challenge and used him in mighty ways—ways that impact our world to this day.

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Lord, I am deeply grateful you are the one who plans each of our lives. What comfort to know that an all-seeing, all-wise God is orchestrating not only the main events of life, but every single day. I pray for your grace, in order to be accepting of disappointments, knowing that you will bring good out of every situation. In fact, you may very well be preparing something important. I want to trust you without hesitation.

(Psalm 139:16; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10)

 

Sources:  The Founders’ Bible, https://answersingenesis.org; http://www.cbn.com; http://www.creation.com.)

Photo and art credits:  www.travelblog.org; http://www.firstladies.org.)

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