I have been wrestling with this idea of hope.
I have seen how those with hope truly live a life they are meant to live.
Maybe not the life they expected to live, but they live it, fully and beautifully, none the less.
They live it, dare I say, more gracefully and fully than those who think they have everything they ever hoped for.
What we hope for is usually, more often than not, not what we really need.
I think that the only way we find what we hope for is by way of surrender, by way of suffering, by way of letting go of our hope, and being open to the One who is hope.
God has the answers.
He holds our plan.
He writes the story.
He has the answer key.
And this is hard. This is hard to wrap your mind around, and even harder to accept.
To surrender to the unknown feels, at times, impossible.
Simply put, it is scary.
Like driving in an unfamiliar place with no GPS.
We like to know where we are going.
We like to hold the plan.
We like to know where and when we will arrive and that somebody will be there waiting for us.
We like to play it safe.
But life is not safe.
In the last few months, I have been...we have been...faced with more challenges than I ever hoped for.
Our farm house.
It is as if God has it all in His hands, showing it to me...handing it to me..and as I reach for it, His fingers are spread, and one by one, every hope and every dream, falls into the ground, and disappears.
And I stand in fear, wondering, "Now what? What do we do? Where do we go? How do we help?"
In the book Hope Heals, a story of "second chances" that takes you through the lives of a young married couple, "whose life was supposed to go one way and was instead wrenched into a direction neither one of them could imagine", Jay Wolf says this:
"If hope is only rooted in an outcome, then your expectations will crush you. This season of unrest began to spark a firestorm of questioning, and we found ourselves redefining many things in every area of our lives. What was our truest home? What was our truest hope? Could all the good things we longed for actually be drawing us away from the one thing that is the truest fulfillment of all our desires?"
It really gets you thinking about life, and hope, and what you hope for...really, truly, hope for. And that if there is a God, an all loving, all mighty Father, shouldn't He...wouldn't He, know what is best? Why would He not give us our hearts desire, when He gave up His only son? Could it be, and did you ever consider, that when things don't go your way, it is because it is going His way, and if He is the way, the truth and the life, why are we afraid? Why is it so hard to trust a God who gave us, and continues to give us, absolutely everything?
I have no reason to doubt God's plan for me. For my children. For my marriage. For anything. The proof is hanging on the cross.
If I could rewrite a few chapters in my story, would I?
Based on past bad choices and obvious mistakes, of course I would.
I always think I know.
I always think I am in control.
I always think I know exactly what would make me and my family happy.
Until I realize that I am still left longing.
That the kids are still left longing.
That my idea of fulfillment is but a speck of nothing in comparison to God's all knowing truth, wisdom and understanding.
Nobody in their right mind would write a story for their children that involves the shooting in their school and the death of their friends and teachers.
Nobody in their right mind would include pain and suffering, anxiety and depression in their children's lives.
Nobody in their right mind would write of financial difficulty.
Nobody would choose to write a marriage that has bumps and bruises.
Nobody would write the story of finding your dream home to be told you have four weeks to get out.
But that does not mean we have no say in how we live out our story.
Because we do.
Because we have a choice.
We can choose how we respond.
And that is no small deal.
Our response to a life that feels like a mess?
That is a big deal.
A game changer.
And it is up to us.
We are most certainly at a detour in our lives right now.
And the way we have chosen to respond is by way of hope.
We have hope...an anchor of hope...firm and secure.
And we trust and believe in a God that sees so much more than we do.
How can I doubt Him?
He who put the stars in the sky and gave me life?
He who brings the sun up every morning and leads me to green pastures for rest?
And maybe...just maybe...because He knows better, this detour is the best thing for me; for us.
Kathryn Wolf says this:
"Perhaps some detours aren't detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the path. The picture. The plan. And, perhaps, most unexpectedly, they can be perfect."
And I agree with her.
Because when I look back on my life, it is the detours, not my plan, that have lead me to exactly where I belong.