Hope Springs

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The May tree is finally in bloom. It’s very late this year, almost a month later than last year, I think. I stopped checking it for signs of blossoms a while ago. I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

I think that the fear of disappointment is one of our greatest fears. I have talked to many people who are afraid to hope in God, lest he turn out to be as disappointing as many important people in our lives that we once relied upon have been.

When we fear abandonment or rejection, or worse, betrayal, we either give up, resigned to the inevitability of more disappointment, or muffle our own heart’s cry in distractions or work.

This has been both a challenging miserably rotten week of feeling helpless and a delightful inspiring week of spiritual growth. You don’t need the details. Weeks like this are custom-made to reveal what is lacking in our experience of who God wants to be for us. Your definition of rotten is probably different than mine, as is your experience of delight, but you know what I mean.

If my hope levels over the past few days were on a graph it would look like a major seismic disturbance. I’m much better than I used to be, but I’m not where I want to be. I wish all the weights on the worry side of my emotional scale would move permanently to the trust side without jumping back when I go to answer the phone.

The Lord has been reminding me to remember — and I would — and then, with more bad news, I would forget. I purposely wrote down promises I have seen fulfilled and miracles I have seen manifest before my own eyes. I have seen this stuff time and time again! Why do I struggle to hold those memories in my heart when faced with another crisis?  Why do I still oscillate between joyful trust and sick-to-the-stomach worry?

I spent time sitting in the warm sun under the May tree this evening and quieted my heart to wait on God. (My stomach still did its own thing.) This is what he reminded me to remember. I share it with you.

The God of all hope is the God of all love first because there is no hope without love.

Love is voluntary or it is not love. He chooses you. He likes you.

Lacking hope? Go back to love.

Quit acting like an orphan and trying so hard to figure it all out yourself. You’re adopted now. Let him look after you. Let him walk with you and show you how to do life with all its craziness.

Remember the many ways he has shown his love before, even when you messed up. And give thanks for as many things as you can think of. (This is important for your sake.)

You have never done anything that disqualifies you from being loved by your Papa God.

He is the God of all comfort and the God of limitless possibilities, so don’t ignore or limit him.

The greatest title you could ever hold is beloved son or daughter of the Creator of the universe. He’s got you.

He won’t stop loving you. He loves you because he loves you because he loves you — even on days when you can’t imagine how.

Look up, child. Spring will come. It always does.

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The Cowboy Trail

Photo: On the Cowboy Trail in cattle country, Alberta

I grew up in cattle country. How a country western/gospel music culture ever churned out an artsy-fartsy opera singer I’ll never know, but I can still sing country if I want to. This picture reminds me of the old song we sang around the campfire.

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
The wealth in every mine,
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine,
Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell
He is my Father so they’re mine as well
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
I know that He will care for me.

I’m still thinking about adoption and being loved and provided for by my heavenly Abba/Daddy. When He adopted me I became a full heir with access to all the riches of my Father’s kingdom. He’s still teaching me to use the gifts he has given responsibly, so that I might be an asset to my Father’s business, but I’m not a homeless street kid anymore.

God is good.

As a mother

Photo: Preciousbaby's  foot charis

Mother’s Day can be horribly painful for some people.

I held more than one sobbing child in the big rocking chair during the darkest nights of their little lives. More than once I heard, “Why doesn’t my mommy love me?”

As a foster parent my own heart was torn up by the pain of little ones whose mothers chose alcohol or drugs over their kids, and with one exception all of the 24 children who arrived on our doorstep were there because their mothers’ own pain left them with nothing left to give. In the midst of drowning fear and emptiness they forgot their kids. It was hard to forgive them sometimes, but I realized that a person can’t give what they have never received, and these moms needed to be loved themselves.

God understands that too.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,

    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget,

    yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

None of us were parented perfectly. Even the most outstanding mother in the world has moments when her own deficits get in the way. That’s when Abba–Daddy-Father God, our Mother, can fill in. The Bible speaks of his gentle nurturing motherliness –something beyond gender.

For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,

    and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;

and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,

    and bounced upon her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts,

    so I will comfort you;

    you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;

     your bones shall flourish like the grass;

and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,

    and he shall show his indignation against his enemies. (Isaiah 66: 12-14)

More than a foster parent he adopts us and makes us full heirs. This is why I love adoption. It is a picture of being chosen and of lives redeemed by a perfect parent –without age limit.

Sometimes he also uses someone else with skin on to be an agent of this grace.

Paul wrote: For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness.   Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  (1 Thessalonians 23: 5-8)

A few years ago I wrote a hymn for Mother’s Day recognizing God as a mother and thanking him for all the “mothers” –biological, fostering, adopting, step-parenting, hosting, caring and mentoring (regardless of gender) he has put in our lives who have nurtured us in some way.

As a Mother

As a mother, on whose bosom,

rests a child in total trust,

so, oh Lord, You love and comfort

‘til our earth-bound fears are hushed.

As a mother guides and teaches

little children to obey

so, oh Lord, you firmly tell us,

“Listen child to what I say.”

As a mother waits with weeping

for a child who’s gone astray,

so, oh Lord, You wait with longing

‘til we find our homeward way.

As a mother who rejoices

when her child says, “I love you,”

so, oh Lord, Your heart rejoices

when we sing, “We love You too.”

We, your children, come before You

to give honour and to praise.

Thank you for the precious “mothers”

who have shown Your loving ways.

Help us, Lord, to love and nurture

those entrusted to our care,

‘til as one united family

we will live together there.

(suggested tune setting: The Welsh folksong, “Suo-Gan” )

God is good.