Wait and Hope

Last week, I had the honor to write a guest post about God’s faithfulness on my friend Bobi Ann’s blog, bobiann.com. We first met when we were three years old in Mother’s Day Out together at First Baptist Church Kilgore, TX. We crossed paths again in college and seminary, then we both married minister husbands and are both in ministry ourselves! It’s been a joy to reconnect this past year through writing. Today’s post, in a way, is part two of that post on faithfulness, so if you want, click here for part one.

Isn’t it interesting how God often takes the really slow road? How, sometimes, we have long since written off a part of our lives as old or forgotten? And He pulls it out and dusts it off and says, no, I still have plans for this.

My husband and I are both fans of fantasy book series (i.e. Harry Potter), long-running TV shows (LOST), movie trilogies, etc. (Yeah, call us nerds, but as John Greene says, “when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all.”)

We love books and shows like this because they are stories that take a long time to tell. The arc of the story is not over and done in one episode. There is a beginning and end (or in the case of LOST, they just give up mysteriously and leave everyone in confusion. Still bitter.); but in the middle, there are twists and turns, backstory, character development, and each little story within the big story is important. Everything is building and every detail is significant. These stories often take the slow road and something introduced in the beginning can play a huge role later on.

A few years ago, our church took one year to read through the Bible chronologically. Two things about that. One: The Old Testament is really long. Really, really long. Two: It wasn’t the first time I had read the stories, but reading them in this way I got completely wrapped in the history, the character development, and all the details (yes, even the genealogies were interesting!). I loved walking through the story from beginning to end. I loved seeing how things in the beginning were important in later stories and how all the pieces fit together. And just like a good movie where you anxiously wonder if the hero really will be able to save the day, I found myself identifying with Israel in their longing for a Messiah, for rescue. It was indeed Good News when Jesus finally came on the scene!

I loved being connected to THE story. The story of Jesus. Because ultimately all of Scripture is telling about Him. And all that time in the Old Testament was build up. It was getting ready for Him. If I could sum up the Old Testament in two words, it would be: wait and hope.

But talk about the slow road. We often get impatient when we wait for an answer from God for days or weeks or months. In the first three chapters of Scripture, the human race was already broken. Israel was promised a Messiah, and they waited. And waited. For thousands of years. Hoping for redemption. Hoping for rescue. Waiting and hoping.

When we talk about hope, we often use it in this way:

“I hope I get the job.”

“I hope we sell our house.”

“I hope the weather is nice for the birthday party.”

“I hope they have nachos in the cafeteria today.” (Who doesn’t?!)

When we say we hope in this way, we’re basing it off of a very narrow definition. It’s “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” (dictionary.com) This is temporary hope and the thing hoped for may or may not come to pass. This is a definition of hope, but it’s not the only one. This is not how the Bible talks about hope. Because our real hope is not in someTHING, but rather in someONE.

“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25, HCSB)

When God’s people waited and hoped for the coming Messiah, they hoped in something that was sure. It was promised. There was no way it wouldn’t come to pass. More than just wishing for what we want or crossing our fingers that events will turn out for the best, hope is “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.” (dictionary.com) It’s not hoping for a thing, it’s hoping in a Person. THE person in which our expectations are centered. The person of Christ.

When our hope is in Christ and not merely in wishful thinking, then hope cannot fail. Because Christ is eternally faithful. In Psalm 130, the psalmist declares, “I wait for the LORD; I wait, and put my hope in His word . . . Israel, put your hope in the LORD. For there is faithful love with the LORD, and with Him is redemption in abundance. And He will redeem Israel from all its sins.” (Psalm 130:5 & 7-8, HCSB) The hero will definitely save the day, no doubt about it.

There is the only true source of hope, hope that does not disappoint. It is Christ, His faithful love and His redemption of sins. There is our rescue. All the twists and turns along the way are part of the story. The details of our lives that we want so badly to work out are important, just like the thousands of years of Israel’s backstory is important. It’s all part of the bigger story that points us to a singular hope in the person of Christ. And regardless of earthly circumstances, this hope remains, because He is always faithful.

 

Are You Having Fun With Your Kids This Summer?

This summer has been very unique for me. Fourteen of my last sixteen summers were spent, in some capacity, traveling and working summer camps. Those summers were memorable and life-changing, but they were also hard work and busy!

This summer I had one goal and one goal only for all my “free time” now that I’m off the road: to have lots of fun with my family!

I told my husband just this week that if he ever thinks to himself, “I wonder if my wife and daughter would like to go to the pool today?” . . . The answer is YES! Always, yes!

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At the beach in June. Fun!

I know as parents, we can grow so weary. Trust me, I know. Most days, I’m up at 5:45, at work by 7:30, picking Abigail up at 4:45, then we’re home to help cook dinner (I say help because let’s face it, I do about 25% of the actual cooking in our house), clean, do laundry, give a bath and somewhere in there I’ve got to try to work in exercise, time with my husband, time with friends, time in the Word . . . Whew! We’re exhausted. When is the fun supposed to happen again?

I’ve taken on a new philosophy this summer. In non-summer mode, I think our house generally stays pretty clean. On a scale of 1 to 10, (10 being Martha Stewart and 1 being Obama just called in FEMA) I think we usually land somewhere around a 6 or 7. Hey dust bunnies, I see you. But the things are picked up and in their places, the dishes are done, most laundry is put away, the kitchen counter is wiped down and the bed even gets made most days (Thanks husband!). Enter summer. I think this month our standard level of clean has dropped to about a 4. Why? Because I hate being in a messy house and my kid loves to be outside, so what do you think we choose to do? Since I work, my hours in the day with Abigail are already short. Too short. I could spend those hours cleaning. Or I could spend them running, swinging, chasing, swimming and eating ice cream with my daughter. I’ll clean my house again, for real, in September.

Listen, I know summer can be stressful. We’ve all heard the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Well, guess what? In the summer, the days are longer. Longer! There are already days in the dead of winter where bedtime can’t come fast enough. Now the days are longer! What if the days being long wasn’t a bad thing? What if instead of seeing this as more time to “fill”, we saw this as more time to have fun? To enjoy our kids. To play and do crazy things – things we wouldn’t normally do when the sun goes down at 4:30 (Seriously, what’s up with that Middle Tennessee?).

I felt like I had a choice to make. I could choose to stick with my normal routine of coming home, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and putting to bed by 8:15 sharp. Or I can choose to sweep the dust bunnies under the rug and take full advantage of this magical thing called summer with all it’s warmth and extra long days and sunshine.

We chose fun. We bought fresh peaches at the farmer’s market. We swam. And swam and swam. We stayed up way past our bedtime. To watch fireworks and eat ice cream.

This is a chocolate frosty and this photo was taken at 8:30 pm! Fun!

This is a chocolate frosty and this photo was taken at 8:30 pm! Fun!

On several occasions, I have rushed home from work and thrown a random assortment of food items in a bag to head to the park for a picnic. Our child has gone down a slide no less than three hundred times. We got very dirty and very sweaty. We brought a lot of that dirt into the house. It did not all get swept away promptly. We survived.

We’re doing more than surviving though. We are having fun! We are enjoying each other’s company and laughing and making lots of memories. (Oh hey, and bonus: all that running and swimming and playing has burned quite a few extra calories!) (One other side note: I certainly don’t think it is a parent’s responsibility to entertain their children all day, every day. I’m not talking about entertaining. I’m just talking about getting out of your routine and getting the most out of summer with your kids. Or friends, or other significant people in your life, if you’re not a parent.)

I think this is what a child's knee should look like in the summer. Fun!

I think this is what a child’s knee should look like in the summer. Fun!

What about you? Are you enjoying your summer? Are you occasionally forsaking normal household responsibilities to play outside in the sun or have a picnic or take a walk? Don’t just send your kids outside to play. You, parent; you need to have fun too! With your kids! It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. The possibilities are endless. The days are long. But they won’t stay that way. Cooler weather is just around the corner. Schedules and bedtimes and regular bath times will all fall into place again. (Okay, maybe not overnight, but they will.)

The days are long, but summer is short. Make time to enjoy the precious people God has placed in your life. Make memories. Have fun.