Sometimes something gets misplaced and you really do not notice until you need it. As you reach for it, you realize it is gone, or what is left isn’t really user friendly. These past few weeks a word keeps popping up that I am realizing I have allowed to float off and not lean on too much. I did not realize it until this morning, listening to a sermon on David and his desire to have his main guy, Joab, count all the fighting men of Israel.
He wanted a census. At first this seems like no big deal from a 21st century reading, but as we read Joab’s response, which was one of warning, and in 1 Chronicles 21:6 it says, “he was repulsed” it made me wonder why. This is the same man who did not seem to bat an eye, or at least scripture does not record him being upset about killing Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah for David. My husband reminded us that this was David that boldly went out to face Goliath with no armor, a sling, and five smooth stones because he knew His God was going to fight his battle. This was not his battle to win, but God’s. Somewhere along the way David got off track. He forgot who the battle belonged too. We are not sure if this was a pride issue or trust issue, but either way, once the deed was done, he knew that he had sinned and missed the mark.
This past bunch of days the word hope as been coming up in many blog posts, quotes, and scriptures. For some reason it kept resonating in an uneasy way. Not a usual reaction for the word hope. My mouth gave my heart away when as I was going to pray with some ladies in class on Becoming a Woman of Prayer, I showed with my words about the situation that I did not have hope that God could, or would do a good work in the situation and lives of the people we were praying for.
It bothered me a lot and I had to think about where that came from. I believe, but help my unbelief. I have hope, but help me be hopeful. Somewhere along the way my hope had started feeling unsafe and uncontrollable. I had hope in God coming through and doing certain things the way I saw fit, and He did not. The stories looked like they were going in that direction. We were celebrating and hoping, and then it felt like a balloon that was inflated too big, and popped. I remember the day I gave my hope away.
I had this pendant that I loved that had “hope” written on it. I really wanted a hemp braided necklace for it. I thought that would go best. My friend Tiffany was going to make it for me. My story of Tiffany started with great hope. I met her at Bible Study in jail. We connected right away along with the two other ladies that served and did the study. Our church took a chance on her based on our encouragement and excitement about allowing Tiffany to move into our “Compassion” House. It was a trailer the church had fixed up to have a place for people in a challenging situation to come to transition into a healthy life with the love of a church family.
We all jumped into doing life with Tiffany. She bubbled over with hope that she could do life differently. Her little girl was so excited to get another chance with her mommy and knew God did it. My hope was huge. Not only that, it was my word for that year. Hope and here we were seeing what God could do. Only none of us, including Tiffany understood addiction and lifetimes that were ordered by drugs and the drug community from a very early age. As much as Tiffany wanted a new life, her old life kept calling her back. She was still too close to the old to make a break.
Tiffany ended up back in jail, with a deeper brokenness but with a greater understanding of God’s love and salvation. She shared it with all the ladies in each facility. But the addiction kept calling to her, she had not gained freedom and now the system had moved her far away from our community. We kept in touch as best we could. I kept hoping and praying for healing and help for her.
Until one day we got the call that as Tiffany had gone to live near her father in hopes of starting fresh in a new place, the old ways found her again. She was found dead on top of her Bible that she had been reading when she overdosed. Later I learned that many who are clean for quite awhile, when they go back, they try the level they left off with and it kills them. It broke my heart and I felt like my balloon of hope had popped.
Then there were other people that I watched God pursue, and we had great hope and saw great things, and their story did not end with a happily ever after that I had written in my mind. I did not realize until today that I had judged God and hope on those. I was having a circumstantial hope, one that from a person who knows we should hope, that God can do the impossible, but all the while trying not to get my hopes up. Really that is not hope at all. That is a mistrust of God’s heart and his ways. It is forgetting that He is making all things new and that in the fullness of time all will be made right.
That pendant that I loved, that my Tiffany was going to make a necklace for me out of hemp rope, I gave away to a home for girls being rescued. I knew I could not wear it but wanted it to be kept alive. Today I was reminded of that pendant, and that I gave it to someone in hopes that they would have hope, but in doing so I was giving away my hope.
Like David I was holding onto controlled hope. The hope I could count and see, not the kind that takes faith, and will take me through when all else seems to be lost. I wrote a post about Tiffany a few weeks ago but it felt dark and devoid of light, so I have not published it yet. I realize now it was filled with cynicism, disguised in the way I do. As I was looking at dates to piece together my missing hope, I found this quote I wrote under my word in 2014 from Bob Goff, “Cynicism is fear posing as confidence; joy is hope let off the leash.”
The last bunch of years have been one situation after another that feel like a battering of wind and waves on my faith which God has graciously sustained and grown, but my hope took a beating as well, and did not fare as well. I am realizing that as much as I have hoped on the outside, on the inside there is a cautiousness to not get my hopes up.
As much as I have seen God do amazing things over and over, and know how faithful he is, I have missed the joy of hope, the sustaining power of hope, the gift of hope. I believe that God has held it out for me. He has even shown me many gifts in those dark situations, and I have gotten to walk with many in their hope, but mine has been anemic at best, only I have not been aware until today, when my mouth gave my heart away.
So with David, I repent for getting my eyes off and allowing my heart to trust in only what I could see and interpret in my finite mind instead of remembering that the God I serve is doing so much more than I could ever ask or imagine. So I am leaning in to God’s heart and asking Him to help me hope again, but this time without my agenda.