Jump for Joy: I Want to Radically Embrace Hope

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This photo says it all.  This is what all out praise is about!  Jumping as high as I can in celebration of the One who is worthy to receive.  This is what hope is; tossing cares aside with abandon and placing your trust completely in the unseen future.  I don’t know about you, but this is what I want for my life.  Jump this high, joyously.  Hope this much, expectantly.  Trust this much, with abandon.

I’m heading into deep waters this week.  I caught hold of error this morning at church, asking a friend to pray for me.  I said with my mouth something quite negative.  I asked for prayers to cover that which I anticipated to be like every other time I’ve walked into muddy waters.  Can you relate?  It wasn’t until I walked back to my seat that I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit; “is that what you really expect this week Linda?”  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate it when I say something in the spirit of stupid!  My words conveyed what was in my heart, expectation that this will be the same ‘ol same ‘ol and nothing is ever going to change.

But NO!  I repent Lord.  I don’t want to walk into this week with despair.  I want to enter into it with an attitude of gratitude that You are giving me another chance to go expectantly this time.  Earlier today I was reminded of the children of Israel fleeing to the desert as they left Egypt.  They arrived at the Jordan and saw an obstacle.  You know the story.  The river before them, Pharaoh coming in hot pursuit behind them.  “Oh what are we to do God?” they cried.  When the miracle had happened and they were safely on the other side, the people marveled at all the Lord had done.

A few years ago, I heard a teaching on this subject and the speaker shared how the Israelites were so frightened on this side of the Jordan.  They were up against it; water before and an attacking army behind.  They panicked.  Once safely out of harms way, they finally were able to see the hand of God and they rejoiced at what God had done on their behalf.  Then the speaker made a suggestion: while this story has a good ending, what might have happened if the children of Israel had rejoiced on this side of the river?  Might the outcome have been different in that they were rejoicing at what they knew God was going to do because it’s His nature to care for His beloved children?  Even though they couldn’t see His provision, doesn’t mean it was not there all along!

And that is where I find myself this morning.  Facing a Jordan ahead of me and the enemy behind taunting me with words such as, “it’s never going to change, this week will be a trial for you, and you’re already tired and this week will only serve to suck more energy out of you!”  I have a choice to make — right now.

I am choosing to radically embrace the hope of my Savior.  I am going to stand on edge of the shores of my week and declare, “God you are for me and all I do in the coming week is in Your hands.  I am declaring that this week is going to be different because YOU ARE IN IT!  You want the changes I desire even more than I do Lord.  You love the people I’m going to be with this week even more than I do and You want glorious, wondrous change to happen for them.  So Lord, I am going to rejoice on this side of the river on their behalf.  Do what you want to do and help me be part of the change!”

What are you facing this week?  Difficulties in your job?  Your marriage?  Your future?  Would you like to stand with me right now and give thanks and praise for what God is going to do before we even get there?  Would you stand with me, right now, right here?  Yep, get up out of your seat and leap in the air with joyful expectation that God is going to perform a miracle for you this week.  Let’s do it!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Jump high joyously.  Hope expectantly.  Trust with abandon.  We can do this people!

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

hand-644145_1280Photos by Pixabay

This photo reminded me of the song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands”.  This was quite a popular song when I was young and I loved to sing it.  Seeing the photo reminded me of the truth of the song; indeed, He has the whole world in His hands.

Today I listened to a mp3 about hope.  Oh my, it stirred up something in me that kind of turned my world upside down.

Let me start at the beginning.  I had some time today with a dear friend and she asked me how things have been in my life recently.  Well, that question kind of unlocked something in me and what came pouring out without any thought on my part was the stress and heaviness of the past few weeks.  In other words, I dumped on her.  She prayed with me.  All was good.

I ran home to start a pot of chicken soup to share with a sick neighbor.  As I chopped up veggies for the soup, I turned on the message about hope.  An hour later, not only was my soup gently simmering on the stove-top but my spirit had been transformed.  Not two hours earlier I had been caught up in details of life, worn down, and weary from the fight.  Now, my spirit absolutely soared!

In this recording, I was reminded that while the messages of the Bible seemed heavy as you take them one at a time, we were given the Bible, the written Word of God, as a testament of hope.  There’s hope in every story.  Period.  I don’t care where you land in the Word of God, each message bears hope.  People faced with dire circumstances, we are told, ended in victory.  Was the victory necessarily that which was prayed for?  No.  Often the victory was a total surprise.  Sometimes the victory was something so far from the where the story began, it seems almost ridiculous.

Noah, a believer in God, told to build a boat in a time when there had never been rain.  And not just a boat, but a container for a zoo of all creation!  Rahab, a prostitute, the only one saved from a city of non-believers because she believed in some men who broke into her condo!  Abraham, credited as a friend of God, chosen as the father of more people than the counted stars and yet, he was a man with no children when the promise was given.  Esther, a Jewish woman, chosen as the queen of a king in a hostile kingdom, receives favor from her husband against all odds, and saves her entire nation.  I could go on and on.  Dire circumstances all to each involved and yet God turned each one into a victory.  And that’s just four stories out of the Old Testament!

The Bible.  A book given to us as a source of hope.  And yet, it is so easy to become completely entwined with our own circumstances and fall into the trap of believing there is no way through.  Oh what a tale the enemy of our souls can spin!

As I listened today to this message of hope, I found my spirits lifting.  Why?  Because the God of the Universe has the whole world in His hands!  I haven’t taken the time to discover how many stories of hope are contained in the Bible, but I know there are a lot.  My story, and your story, are each just as much a part of the unfolding tale of God’s people as those told in the Bible.  No matter what we face, there is hope.  Why?  Because God has us in His hands.

hand-505277_1280Whether we believe this or not, it is true.  He absolutely has you and me in His hands of love.  It is the unfolding story of love between a Creator and His creation.  My current situation, and yours, is an opportunity for Him to show His abounding love toward us.  He has a way through and probably, just as soon as I can muster the strength to realize the hope of the situation, He will bring about an amazing end.  It’s His way.

When the mp3 was over today, I felt both elation and disappointment.  Elation in being brought back from a place of believing the lies the enemy had been telling me about my situations.  Disappointment that I had been believing such things as,  “you can’t help”, “you don’t have very much faith, do you?”, “you’re not very good at helping others”, “I don’t know what to do”, and so on that had been hammering away at my soul lately.

Today my spirit screamed back, “NO, my Lord is watching over me, and He is absolutely going to help me through this place of uncertainty because that is His nature – He loves me, He cares for me, and He will turn all this to good,” because He loves me.  I am part of His creation and the Creator loves that which He creates!

Today, I pray Lord, that You will forgive me for sinking into myself.  I lost sight of Your hope in my situation.  While I don’t know the outcomes Lord, You do.  And all my outcomes are hopeful in You because You love me, You always have my good in mind, and You care about all involved, probably more than even I do if truth be told.  Thank you Lord for sending this message to me today.  It was the slap I needed to jolt me out of the dark and dire plans of the enemy and back into a place of realizing that nothing catches You by surprise.  You are for me and even this is something You can certainly handle.  Help me Lord to always remember there is hope because You have me in the palm of Your loving hand!

Freed From Depression

thunersee-542782_1280I spent time with the Lord this morning and I realized something; there is a momentum rising in my life. I can feel it. This is thrilling to me.

The reason for my excitement? I spent a lot of time throughout my life trapped in the past. I lived each day yes. Did what I had to do, went where I had to go. But behind it all was the dark cloud of my past, always with me, always brooding. It reminds me of the cartoon character Pigpen in the Charlie Brown strips. While Pigpen walks through life with this cloud of dust from his favorite blankie, I walked through life with a dark cloud hanging just above my head, filled with the dramas of my past. That cloud tainted everything.

When I wanted to attempt something new, the cloud grew darker and it would begin to rain on my hopes. “If you try that, it’s only going to end up like…,” it whispered to me. And that would pretty much be it; the attempt at something new faded under the doom and gloom of the past. Every once in awhile I made it past the dreaded censor and actually accomplished something new or creative. Those would be days filled with hope, a hope I couldn’t quite get my fingers wrapped securely around in order to repeat the process. And the next thing I knew, the cloud returned. Living under the dark cloud of depression is debilitating.

About eight years ago, something new happened. I’d gone to my doctor yet again to ask to be put on antidepressants. I knew the signs well and when I felt I could no longer cope on my own, I asked to go back on the pills. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for science. Without the help of science, I’m not sure where I’d be to this day. But this particular day was different.

This was a newer doctor to me. My old physician (in the town I’d recently moved from) and I had come to a great plan of attack in the past; when I felt better on antidepressants, he encouraged me to go off of them. I really don’t know if this fit with medical community prudence, but he knew my attitudes about being on chemicals long term. It was a long discussion, but we came to a decision we both could live with. I so appreciated this man.

So after discussion my new doctor agreed with me that I should go back onto antidepressants. I’d gone to him with expectations. I asked how long he thought I should be on them. “For the rest of your life,” he replied. I wasn’t prepared for that answer. He explained the medical reasoning behind his words. I nodded my head, took the new prescription in hand, and left.

I had, just a few months prior to this, set out on a spiritual path new and foreign to me. As a Christian of almost 30 years, this recent move had plopped us (my husband and I) down into a new church where we were confronted by God. He challenged everything we thought, said, and did. And, as difficult as it was at the time, it was oh so good. God had gone before us in this move and provided the circumstances for us to grow – wildly grow in our faith!

So at this new experience, the Holy Spirit jumped in front of me when my doctor suggested I needed antidepressants for the rest of my life. “No,” He gently suggested, “I will heal you and you’ll never have to depend on antidepressants again!” I didn’t hear those words, I didn’t even realize anything had changed.  I just knew at the time that something in me bristled when the doctor spoke.  I filled the prescription one last time, took them until I felt restored to a more even way of dealing with life, and then weaned off of them, just as I had a few times in the past.

It wasn’t until months later that I realized something had truly changed.  I noticed I wasn’t feeling down anymore and I was handling the difficulties of life.  Even more months down the road, I came upon the truth one day — I was healed of depression!  I hadn’t asked to be healed, I just knew with that bristling that something in me changed.  Finally, while thinking about all this, it dawned on me.  I experienced a miracle at God’s hand.  I spoke it out one day in the retelling of the story.  A miracle!

That was eight years ago. The dark cloud is gone. Do I have down periods? Of course. Life is well, life. It has ups and downs. But I no longer succumb to the enemy’s plan to kill and destroy the hopes God implanted in me. Please understand me in that I am in no way suggesting this is the way for anyone suffering with depression. This was simply my journey.

Today, I’m aware of excitement inside. I have hopes and dreams. I’ve charted a new course for my life. More importantly, I sense momentum building. A boulder is so hard to budge when it just sits there. But take a figurative lever or catalyst to start moving that boulder and the game changes. While difficult to get it moving from its “dug in” spot, it can be moved. And once that process begins, don’t stand in the way for you just might get rolled over.

“Holy Spirit, thank you for standing up to my past and depression. Thank you for caring enough for me that you went before me during a huge transition in my life and helped me get to a ‘petri dish’ setting so I might grow in you. This has been the BEST! Help me now Lord to continue to grow and expand and thrive in your ever-presence. There is no longer a dark cloud, only vast, crystal blue skies on the horizon. Hallelujah! My soul is soaring with you today!”

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Note: Depression is a serious condition and should not be ignored. If you suffer from it, please see a doctor where help is available. However, please don’t forget there exists the Great Physician. His supernatural healing is available to all!

“Because He said, ‘…He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses,’ Matthew 8:17 (NKJV), we may boldly say, ‘I am free from weakness and disease because they were all carried by Jesus Christ for me.’

“Because He has said, ‘God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,’ 2 Timothy 1:7, we may boldly say, ‘I am free from all fear, for my God has given me power, love and a sound mind.”

Amen and amen!  Excerpts from “The Good Life” by T.L. Osborn.