The Wait of Saturday

img_7170Originally posted in 2016, this post below has been updated and edited.


I have a small sign on my desk from a friend that reads “Hope always.” It was given to me in a time where I couldn’t muster much hope. I was practically an empty shell and questioning much about what I had known for some time. It sits not only as a reminder but a marker of a time when I may not have been able to find hope, but someone else was giving me some of theirs in the waiting.

Today, Saturday, I think on this hope in the waiting.

I think of those who couldn’t muster hope after standing, watching the One Whom they called Christ die. The One Whom they believed to be just as He said He was, the coming Messiah. He was their hope, and hope was dead.

I thumb through the words of Matthew, of Mark, in Luke and John looking for hope. I find waiting. I find Joseph active in the wait, I see the women resting in the wait. I just see a whole lot of waiting.

When it seems like our rescue is dead and buried, when that promise will not be fulfilled we can lose our hope. We watch it slip away, confident expectation no longer pulling us. But in that waiting I believe we see hope. We see hope isn’t always this shining, beautiful thing but a mess. It’s hard. It’s difficult, and maybe even borrowed when we can’t seem to muster the hope we once knew and called our own.

Hope in the waiting can look like doing the thing we know we should or resting in a promise given by Him. The wait of Saturday can be a weighty thing in our lives. It can bear out grief, mourning, doubt and fear. Hope collides with each and every one of those to bring us through and unburden us from the weight of it all. Waiting through Saturdays of our lives guide us to the beauty of the coming morning. We no longer want the pain of Friday, a necessary grief. Yet our hearts aren’t quite prepared for Sunday.

So we wait. We wait in Saturday.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. 

Psalm 130 (NKJV)

Silent Nights

We are six days from celebrating the birth of Christ. This time of year is most often characterized by the hustle and bustle, songs of cheer and laughter in the air. It’s running from one party or program to another, squeezing in those last minute gifts and errands in order to have this perfect holiday scene you know never makes it to reality.

For me, in this season, I truly enjoy sitting in the quiet of my home with the lights of the tree sparkling in the dark. I love the stillness of it and the peaceful calm that seems to emanate from corners of the season. The world gets loud, it gets rather busy and hectic with so many people vying for my ears and often my eyes. It becomes overwhelming to this heart of mine and sometimes I just need to pull back to pull on peace and quiet.

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But I think I get a bit fidgety if the quiet goes too long when it comes to God. That’s when doubt seeps in rather than peace pervading. I tend to worry that He’s forgotten me, or that He doesn’t love me as much as He has said countless times in countless ways. I question His work ethic and His ability to hear my prayers.

I don’t often read about Zechariah outside of the Christmas season. I don’t dig into his story much in the beginning of Luke except as the precursor to the story of Mary, Joseph, and the Coming Messiah. If we’ve heard the story of the birth of Christ, we can probably give a brief synopsis of his precursor, John the Baptist.

Dad was a priest in the temple, mom was a lovely woman of God but both were without a child and advanced in age. Dad gets called to the temple as part of his rotation, an angel  tells him that “Hey, you’re going to have a kid. He’s going to be the forerunner for the coming Lord. He’ll lead Israel back to prepare their hearts.” (my interpretation, obviously) Zechariah doubted, he wanted confirmation…and so he got silence, for nine months. In one interpretation it says he was mute, meaning he could not speak, nor could he hear.

For nine months.

Silence inwardly and outwardly for that long probably led to some real moments of fidgeting in Zechariah’s life. But then he could see the visual confirmation of the promise from God-growth of human life in his wife, the fulfillment of a long prayed desire. Hope confirmed. Yet God allowed him to be silent until his son came into the world. His first words once he arrived? Praises to God.

For nine months he had time with God alone. Silent nights filled with discerning and relationship building. Discipline lived out, and doubt rooted out. This wasn’t punishment for him, but discipline from God to bring the doubt out of Zechariah and draw him in closer to Him.

How often do I forsake the silence for doubt? How many times do I take the silent nights for granted and turn to God in mistrust and accusation? What if the silence-no matter the longevity-is for my good and His promise to come to full birth? To wait expectantly in the hope of Him who gives good gifts to those that love Him? To root out even the slightest sliver of doubt that may pierce deep within and allow God to have the only voice in my life?

As we enter the final week of expectancy of Christ’s arrival into our world thousands of years ago, may our hope and expectancy be rooted in the hope of a Promise Keeper, a Listener, and a Heralder of Good. May our doubt and fear of unanswered prayers be uprooted and the silence of a holy God take it’s place.

Advent Week: Hope 

This week I broke my first pair of Ripstix, at 5:30am…They are lightly weighted drumsticks used in a fitness class I’ve been taking (I shared about POUND one Friday Favepost) for the last 11 months. It’s a big deal to break them, and it sparked a little hope in me on this well person journey I’m on. 

This week I got asked out. It was unexpected and provided a little hope that I might not be single until death (or The Lord returns). 

This week I saw people chipping in, time and talents, money and spirit to assist those who lost everything in the fires of my beloved Smokies. While lives have been lost, I have seen hope in the eyes of those found and those that made it out. Hope in words and deeds alike. 

Much of this week hope has been very tangible for me. It’s no coincidence as it’s the first week of Advent, the week of hope. While it’s nice to hope in the physical, the tangible, people and things, it’s not where our hope should remain. Our hope should be fully vested in Christ, who is the Hope of the World. A world that needs Him just as much as you and I do right this very minute. 

When I look at hope in Scripture, I see it woven in stories of lament, trouble and heartache. Stories like Ruth, Job, Hosea. I see it reminding us of the praise that is due when we hope in Him from the Psalms. Paul naming Christ as his hope, and ours too, in letters from prison. I am reminded of the truth of Romans 5:5, that hope does not disappoint because of Christ-God’s love poured out. 

Through trials, perseverance and character defining moments we push after hope, hope in the Christ who came thousands of years ago because of us right now. Christ that knew we would need Him, a Hope Everlasting, at this particular time and for this particular season. We hope in One Who is written across the pages of Scripture and lived out fully in our daily lives, calling us to hope in something better than a health plan or a person. 

He is our hope. Then, now and eternally. That hope does not disappoint but instead fills us, knowing our hope lasts when it’s fully in Him. 

Glow in the Dark

By Thursday I could feel the palpable presence of something…it was an encroaching almost, seeping into the rooms, under the bed and truly into my own self. I mentioned off-hand to one of the women I was with, and she too could feel something crawling into our presence.

We’d been warned that there was a darkness in the city we were visiting, serving…a darkness that ran very rampant among the entire country. It was if the lights had been shut off and there wasn’t hope of ever getting it back, darkness was what you were left with.

By Saturday I was done for, what I was attempting to battle in my own strength had overtaken and my body/mind/heart were just spent. I was physically tired and spiritually spent. While sitting with a body of believers on a train rolling through the Italian countryside I was awash with so much despair. They were talking of the processing of this trip, the what next? for them, and I was simply not there for it.

This was my third mission journey over the last six years. I was prepared for the spiritual attacks, the busyness of prep that often invades time spent in relationship with Christ…what I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming sense of hopelessness I saw, felt and took on as the week progressed on mission. It’s hard to put it into words, and unless you’ve felt it, you really don’t understand it.

Friday night we walked through the bustling college town back to our hostel with one of our missionaries, and I was just struck with such heart-wrenching hurt for the people we saw (and those we didn’t). It was false joy and rushing to fill a hole only consumed by Christ…and I wondered if they would ever hear that. I wondered if they would ever know the true joy of hope in the midst of it all.

It took almost a month for me to process this encroaching darkness and see just how easily it can invade and ensnare us, even as a child of God. While I sat on that train listening to my other team members talk through next steps I couldn’t help but see the hopelessness we were leaving behind but also that we were stepping into even within our own lives back here at home. Areas where we choose fear, doubt and reliance upon the world to bring us joy and fulfillment rather than in Christ. That’s when I saw this out the window: img_9907

A reminder that Light gets in even in the far reaches, even in the darkest spots, bringing hope securely placed in Christ and not our own selves or the things of our own making. A reminder of His faithfulness and His work in us and in others. It’s a reminder of these words spoken and fully realized in every moment, no matter what darkness tries to tell us

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 

John 8:12 (NIV)

 

Letters, Hope and Idolatry

I am a big proponent of the United States Postal Service. I love sending mail. Handwritten letters have gone so out of style that they are vintage, some would say. And I love them. Even stamps…it’s really quite nerdy, but I am truly okay with that.

There’s this one letter though that hasn’t been mailed. In fact it’s been stuck in a journal for five years. Unmailed, but addressed. I don’t even open it because it’s been sealed, prepared to be mailed to someone who wasn’t expecting it.

Some people say that writing it out, what you want to say or feel the need to say, but never mailing it helps to gain closure and move forward. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case this time. It was written at a time when I felt I had lost a close friend, that distance and feelings and prayer wouldn’t bring healing. I hadn’t thought about the letter in quite some time, as the person it was supposed to be sent to came back into my life a couple of years ago.

I felt myself in the same pathway again. The very same routine and the very same emotions come bubbling up. The conversations are different. The interactions are different, causing me to think things are different this time around. But then I catch a glimpse of the same old person, the person that doesn’t know exactly how much it hurt last time…that never got the letter because I couldn’t send it.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

We will convince ourselves, and our friends, that this one time it will be different. That we can get them to see us in a different light or that something has changed, that we are enough. The older I get, and especially in these five years since I wrote the letter, I am seeing that is not the case. I think we choose hope, because it’s a much better story than the alternative. Hope is always a better alternative…unless the hope is never affirmed. That it’s actually a hope of our own fashioning, whittled out of a comment or time spent over dinner.

Sometimes you have to get down the road again a bit before you realize that your hope has been misplaced. That you willingly gave it up to someone instead of giving it fully to God. While the letter may go unsent, God knows the words but He also sees the heart of the author and knows how much has been let go of, and what still remains to be relinquished.

It’s idolatry that we try to fashion into a banner of hope. It’s hope unfulfilled but never confessed as idol-making, because it’s a hope not in Christ but in someone. Someone who won’t see us as enough, and we can’t quite rectify that understanding in our thinking. We pursue after a hope in being enough, when we’ve been told by the Maker we are enough in Him.

So here I sit, with a letter and idolatrous hope, laying it down at the feet of the Redeemer, to take this thing and release it. To put it all down and turn towards the One who says I am  enough, because He is enough for me.

That hope is secure. That hope is good. That hope is more than enough. That hope is everlasting.

The Wait of Saturday

I have a small sign on my desk from a friend that reads “Hope always.” It was given to me in a time where I couldn’t muster much hope. I was practically an empty shell and questioning much about what I had known for some time. It sits not only as a reminder but a marker of a time when I may not have been able to find hope, but someone else was giving me some of theirs in the waiting.

Today, Saturday, I think on this hope in the waiting.

I think of those who couldn’t muster hope after standing, watching the One Whom they called Christ die. The One Whom they believed to be just as He said He was, the coming Messiah. He was their hope, and hope was dead.

I thumb through the words of Matthew, of Mark, in Luke and John looking for hope. I find waiting. I find Joseph active in the wait, I see the women resting in the wait. I just see a whole lot of waiting.

When it seems like our rescue is dead and buried, when that promise will not be fulfilled we can lose our hope. We watch it slip away, confident expectation no longer pulling us. But in that waiting I believe we see hope. We see hope isn’t always this shining, beautiful thing but a mess. It’s hard. It’s difficult, and maybe even borrowed when we can’t seem to muster the hope we once knew and called our own.

Hope in the waiting can look like doing the thing we know we should or resting in a promise given by Him. The wait of Saturday can be a weighty thing in our lives. It can bear out grief, mourning, doubt and fear. Hope collides with each and every one of those to bring us through and unburden us from the weight of it all. Waiting through Saturdays of our lives guide us to the beauty of the coming morning. We no longer want the pain of Friday, a necessary grief. Yet our hearts aren’t quite prepared for Sunday.

So we wait. We wait in Saturday.

Hoping always.

If Instagram has taught us nothing, it’s that everyone is a purveyor of sunrises (or maybe its sunsets). Here in Nashville especially we tend to have some crazy sunsets I know…simply because my Insta-feed and Twitter scrolling will tell me what I have seen with my own eyes.

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I stood this morning, sun still working it’s way to horizon, at my living room window as the sky lightened. It’s a magical time in the hours before dawn and as the sun works its way to greet us with a new day. The mornings I am able to see the sun rise (when it’s not been cloudy for what seems like forever, as it did the last few weeks here) I feel like I have been given a glimpse of creation.

Beauty and creation of a new day. A new day not yet filled with busy, tears, frustrations. A new day not yet realized of the joy, happiness and contentment it contains. It is just new. As if the whole earth is holding its breath.

As I sit this very morning and type this, the sky is lightening to my left out the front while to my right and behind my shoulder the moon still hangs, in half of it’s normal size. Even it anticipates the beauty of this new day, clinging to the last depths of night hoping to witness creation unfold once more anew today.

Sunrises bring anticipation, affirmation that God is with us at least for me. I cannot see a sunrise and not breathe a little deeper, filling with the engulfing goodness of His beauty at work. It is knowing that I have navigated whatever the night has brought with God greeting me newness in today. He was with me in that night but reminds me that beauty awaits with but the turning of the day.

Maybe today we all need to breathe in the newness of the day, the beauty of light dancing upon the horizon. Brilliant warmth flooding our view as a reminder that no matter where we find ourselves He brings beauty, mercies anew for today. He gifts us that with each new morning for us to see hope in the midst of uncertainty, joy in the midst of sorrow and beauty from a God who loves us so.