I got to the end of the day yesterday and realized I really didn’t take one picture, but I also realized that I actually lived in the moments of yesterday rather than my usual worry if I was capturing it all on a camera. My goal this holiday season was to just be present and calm, to really take in living fully in each moment…except, I didn’t do that. I had hardly really lived my life at all until this past weekend, if I’m being honest.
I was supposed to stand up in our Christmas Eve services and speak on hope, but I’d felt everything but hopeful the last few weeks. Truthfully, for the last few months everything felt like it was falling apart. I felt overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, like I was chasing myself in circles and making ZERO progress. I questioned if this life of mine made any difference at all because, to just be blunt, I feel what started off as a desire to live a life that shows a pursuit of God in every moment had turned into begging those around me to put God first. Believing that just living like Jesus was enough to motivate others to live like Him, had turned more into resentment because everywhere I looked it didn’t seem like God mattered at all. I often found myself wondering if I could just not show up in the places I’m expected to be. After all, everywhere I looked is “God, and the things of God, are important to me…until something else better comes along” seems to be a constant battle to any ministry at all. Life had honestly landed a purity of heart as its root, to just being a hard heart, because I feared being let down again. How can a life turn from living out hope to feeling completely hopeless that what you do matters at all?
When life becomes about ME, then what God can do, and will do, turns to a lack of hope. Hope finds itself in moments that don’t make sense. When sickness is present, relationships are broken, bills can’t be paid, and on and on…that’s when hope can make us our break us. We break when we lose hope before we even give it a shot at all. If Jesus is really our hope, then we dig deep and let Him do what only He can do.
This weekend, I was face to face with faking my way through my message on hope, or falling on my face and allowing God to write my story. I’ve been praying that what happens in my life, and in others, would only be explained by God, and I had to actually let Him do that in me at that moment. Was I really without hope? No! What was true is that I was so discouraged by a general lack of commitment around me, I had allowed it to be so personal that I didn’t want any life in ministry at all. However, it is not the truth of what I really know deep down. The truth is that God is the change maker, and the reality is, if I take a moment to look at every single moment around me, He is Hope. He is still working even when I can’t see. I wish that life didn’t feel like a constant begging others to put God first, but I can’t force that for Him to BE that in your life. I must let Him BE that in mine in every moment I live – the good and the really hard.
So, I don’t have a picture of Christmas because I needed to LIVE Christmas. I needed to look for Him around me in the chaos, the laughter, the forgetting to do things on a list, and the smiles on the faces of the family around me. I may wish I had a photo of the day next year when none appear in my social media memories, but this year I need to take the ones He branded on my heart and let that hope be what I breathe in and breathe out. What I knew in the pit of who I was this weekend on the stage in our services is that hope had risen up in me and I took it before I got there that day. Hope will carry me back when hardship comes again. I don’t serve a God of hopelessness. He is my God of all Hope. He can do whatever He wants in any life. His story for me, and for you, is so much better. He deserves to be first, but only you, and only I, can decide He will be.
I read this quote I love again today…”The genealogy of Jesus includes Rahab to show that it doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you finish.” Finishing this year out in the hope of what He can do that I will never be able to do is a story ONLY He can write!