Hope in??

2016 August canoeing Crescent LakeHope matters. Exactly, what are we hoping in?

Tomorrow, I will undergo labwork, lung CT, and PFT (pulmonary function testing) to see if there is progression with my ILD (interstial lung disease). I keep thinking about how hard the “unknowns” are with this HP (hypersensitivity pneumonitis). I can’t “see” my lung disease. I can feel the effects, but I can’t see what is actually going on. So, for me, those days of testing are days that let me “see” into my lungs. I have little control with this disease, but the information helps John & I take the next steps. So, looking on the positive side, the metrics help us to know what action needs to come next. Of course, I will readily admit that I am afraid of disappointment, but without the metrics we cannot possibly know what to do next. So, tomorrow I will do the testings and hopefully gain clarification. I won’t gain control. I only get more wisdom & clarification, so that I will be more informed in order to make good decisions. Being nervous is normal because it is hard to be without control. But, the up side is the information that helps us to know how to manage our care better. I am sorry this is so long, but fear is a such a hard topic, and I think a lot of anxiety is due to the lack of control. It is hard to not have control over one’s body.

2016 August Bridge over Devil's Punch Bowl, Crescent Lake

But, I have a greater HOPE…

“‘But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’
‘If You can?’ echoed Jesus. ‘All things are possible to him who believes!’
Immediately the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief!'”
Jesus asks the father to trust him as the sole resource, to relinquish the desire for control. Jesus also asks for me to trust him as the sole resource, to relinquish the desire to control the outcomes, to surrender the very thing that distances me from His heart of love. He asks me to run into the arms of compassion! Interestingly, Jesus didn’t heal the guy’s kid until he dealt with the father’s heart. So, Jesus again, by His Spirit, has been graciously revealing my own heart to me. My heart has so softened. I marvel at how Jesus healed generously. Jesus healed many, many people. Many of those people didn’t love Jesus, but He healed them out of compassion. My own heart has been shown afresh the compassion of Christ, and I want to run hard into those arms of compassion. If Jesus would heal people who didn’t believe in him, didn’t love him, will he not show the same compassion and more for his pitiful child? He wants me to trust him as my only resource, my only hope, my only life. I can give him my fears. It is safe to trust him. I don’t have to know the outcome. I don’t have to “do it just perfect.” I just need to run into His arms.

2016 August Crescent Lake

So, once again, my wayward heart has been changed by his mercy. Tomorrow is a good day, because I trust Jesus to love me. This is my hope! Whatever the outcome, I trust the heart of Jesus, the plan of God for my life, and the wise Spirit of God to help me each step of this journey.  This indeed is a solid anchor my for my hope; and because the love of God has been generously poured into my heart, I have no fear.

Image may contain: text
Advertisements

Infinity Emptied into Infancy

The people were scared, terrified actually.  Strong forces were joining to wage war against them, and their hearts trembled like the great trees in the forest bowing to the wind. 1383498429_4-640x477 Isaiah, the prophet, is sent with a very simple message: “Do nothing-be careful, quiet, watch your heart, and don’t let it be afraid.” God gave the message of hope to his people, because God knew what they could not know.  His warning was clear: If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.  

This way of faith seemed inadequate to the people.  Isaiah didn’t budge.  “I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face…I will hope in Him.”

But, the people wanted to control the future.  Their hearts sought the false & the futile.

hope-world

God promised joy to come.  Would they believe? or would they choose to only hope in what they could see?  God promised to give a royal son. His zeal would bring peace, joy, justice and righteousness without end.

 

 

 

The people who walked in darkness have see a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has a light shined.
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy
at the harvest…For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
isaiah-9-6-for-unto-us-a-child-is-born
For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:2-3, 5-7

Seven centuries would pass before the birth of Christ.  God masterfully designs His promise to span across the centuries and tells His people, “Do not fear; I will do it.”

Between 2 FINITE things there still remains some degree of proportion; for example, a drop of water exhibits some proportion to the ocean. But between the finite and the infinte, it is IMPOSSIBLE; the Psalmist writes, “Who is like Yahweh our God—the One enthroned on high, who STOOPS down to look on the heavens & the earth?”

Amazingly though, infinite God becomes a finite man–on purpose–in order to reconcile a very messed-up child back to a hallowed Father! The humiliation is mind-boggling!! Apalling wonder…God sends His own Son Jesus, who STOOPED, making voluntary descent from His elevation, “who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He EMPTIED Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.”

jesus-in-manger

Infinity
e  m  p  t  i e d
into infancy…

 

The promise fulfilled.  And so we wait again in calm assurance and quiet hope for our Lord Jesus to return.  If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.  

Progress Going Nowhere

pct Pinchot National ForestWhile walking along a long winding path deep in the forest, its canopy providing the perfect barrier to the sun, I feel nervous.  I can’t see past the winding curves that are filled with overflowing floras & low-hanging branches.  It seems that I have plodded the trail for a long time now, occasionally tripping on the bare root of a massive fir.  It can be dark & the way seems unending and full of switchbacks; it is all back and forth, over and over.  Life feels a lot like this sometimes; our own life can be a mystery of switchbacks.  My heart sighs,  Lord, still?  How long?  I am tired.  I know for certain that I have no more strength left for this.  Still?  I reflect  back on the road traveled.  Heart bent over with the weight of pressing burdens.  Weary tears are difficult to hold back; and, like a child, I whine, “Are we there yet?”.

The Word whispers, “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” (Psalm 17:5, KJV).
!.  Who? God.
2. What? Hold up my goings.
3. When? Present tense.
4. Where? In thy paths.
5. Why? That my footsteps slip not.
Are you saying, Lord, that I must learn to trust you without knowing every step, to trust you to hold onto me and to keep me on your path?  

In his book Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan pens,  “Winter shames those in it.  It feels like failure, something we’ve caused, or missed, or faltered in.  . . . And most people around us don’t help.  They pep-talk us.  They serve up warmed-over platitudes.  They scold us or offer useless advice.  They hold themselves up as examples of how to beat the winter blahs. . . . ” In ancient days, Job had a similar response to his friends lack of understanding, “You pretend to tell me what’s wrong w/my life, but treat my words of anguish as so much hot air.” (The Message). Sitting in the long church pew, I hear my seasoned pastor caution, “It is very easy to say more than you know.” The words are poignant, pregnant with truth.  I need this heart of wisdom.  Then I remember the One whose footsteps I follow, for my gentle Savior has already cleared the path with meekness & gentleness, “a bruised reed He will not break.”  Teach me to use words to heal & to bless, to be gentle with others as I meet them on their journey, to embrace them during their suffering, to listen boldly with love, to pray silent more than I talk loud.

Mount-Hood-Oregon-USA-Photography-by-Andrew-Studer-@Studercinema.-OurPlanetDaily

My feet have tread uncertainly through misty, dark valleys of fear & failings, meandered through lush mountain valleys only to head up sharply on rocky steep crags that seem to go nowhere.  My pastor Scott Reavely states a simple, hopeful truth:   “You can make progress
going nowhere.”

I get his meaning as he speaks of learning my God in my goings. “Andrew StuderGod dwells in shadows and in pits, and in the skin of all who seek and reach, brazenly bold to those with eyes to see,” writes Ann Voskamp.  O, God, I fear I know You too little.  I am  afraid that I am still unable to conceive of how magnanimous Your goodness, of Your mercies freshly birthed each morning, of Your heart that swells with pity for Your child. Give me great faith to cast away doubts & speedily run to You in my need.  I will  praise Your name; for Your great arms hold me close.

Yes, all that our Father plans is far greater than we could have ever guessed, for He chooses to surprise us through the pain with Himself, unveiled, revealed & intimately known. Author Paul Tripp writes, ”Whatever plans God’s people made and however they tried to figure out God’s plans, they were constantly greeted with surprises. They faced turns in the story that they never would have anticipated. God’s plan again & again included things that would not have been in the story if his people had been doing the planning.” I hope that behind a frowning providence you might begin to see the glimpses of a smiling face . . . God’s gracious rescue of surprise.”  And my pastors words ring out true in agreed harmony, “Don’t oversimplify suffering or God.”

O my God, show me Yourself!
“Shew it to my intellect, & remove my ignorance;
shew it to my heart, & revive my gratitude;
shew it to my faith, & renew my confidence;
shew it to my experience, & deliver me from all my fears,”
wrote C. H. Spurgeon in The Treasury of David.

Psalm 31-v-14-15

The Psalmist declares, “My times are in Your hands,” and Spurgeon meditates on the safety of being held by those scarred hands, “The Lord Jesus loved me, and gave himself for me, and my times are in those hands which were nailed to the cross for my redemption.” I slowly embrace knowing my times are in His hands, for my soul has longed for that “safe place” where power, justice, goodness, & everlasting love cohabit.  There is sweet consolation in His living nearness which flows through me warming me with His undeserved attention, steadfast love, and the strong assurance that He knows the way.

Affliction may refine, but cannot waste
That heart wherein my love is fixed fast.

 ~Francis Quarles.