Hope. Such a little word. Such a weighty word. Such a needed word.
And when it's most needed it seems the most elusive.
Hope gives strength, but to have hope where there is no hope requires strength to spark hope into being.
Hope allows a person to persevere, but to keep hope alive requires perseverance.
Hope. It's only one syllable and four letters (at least in English :) ). But it carries the power to uplift, to encourage, to revitalize, to give meaning, purpose and motivation. A small and mighty word.
Rather than going on musing or philosophizing, I shall give a free write poem a try, because sometimes poetry is more satisfying than prose. And I am feeling poeticky. (Yes, I am aware that "poetic" or "poetical" are the correct words but it's more fun to make up words and I am in the mood to make up words. So "poeticky" it stays.)
God of Hope
You say You are
But God, oh my God,
Hope seems so far
Hope is what I want
Hope is what I seek
But despair is lurking
And fear won't leave
The waters rise
as I try to breathe
Lord, don't let me drown
Lord, rescue me!
Where is the God of hope?
Where is the God who saves?
Everywhere I turn
all I see are stormy waves
But then a voice,
I hear a voice pass by
"My child, my child,
don't trade truth for a lie
The truth has not changed
I am still Master of storms
I am still a Promise Keeper
And I hold you in my arms
You still have a future
You still have a hope
You will still reap a harvest
for desires you have sowed
I started something beautiful,
something beautiful in you
And I finish what I start
Remember this truth
So speak out, child,
with the authority I gave you
Rise up, child,
with the power I gave you
And know this:
I am with you,
I am for you,
I am all around you."
So with my next breath
I speak hope
I speak the promises,
the promises God has told
I keep speaking life
and the storm subsides
And up, up I rise
to walk by my Savior's side.
That was mostly unedited. Mostly free write. And that basically sums up my conversations with God lately. In the most "poeticky" way. (Yes. I just used my made up word again. Because I am still in that kind of mood.)
The stories of Jesus stilling the storm and of Jesus walking on the water are two of my favorite go to scriptures to hold on to (Matt 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25 for calming the storm; and Matt 14:22-32, Mark 6:45-51, John 6:16-21 for walking on water). Both stories paint such a vivid picture of what life can feel like and demonstrate the authority of God over circumstances regardless of appearances. And the really amazing thing is that as a Christian, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I have the same authority! Though outward circumstances might not immediately change, if I press into the comfort of God's presence and truth, and agree with what He says, I can have "peace that surpasses understanding" (Phil 4:6-7) and "fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11). And I can trust that God is working on my behalf (Romans 8:28, Psalm 138:8, Phil 1:6). And as I continue holding onto God and His truth in the waiting, He is forming endurance and character in me, which leads to hope (Romans 5:1-5)!
So the same circumstances that cause me to lose hope can have the opposite effect if I switch my focus to God, in which case those circumstances are an opportunity to let hope arise in me.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.~Romans 15:13
Finally I am getting around to another post... Five Minute Friday. The word is START.
***So AFTER finishing this, I realized "start" was from the FMF post last week... but this turned out really beautiful so I shall keep it, I just won't be able to put it into that link up. However, I was able to link up at Dance with Jesus and Faith 'n Friends.***
There are a few directions I could take with this. However, I feel this post is to be one coming from the perspective of God. I asked Jesus what he had to say about "start," and I can picture him looking me straight in the eye, taking my hands in his, and firmly but lovingly saying,
"Start believing that I really am God of the impossible. Start calling on my strength more often and relying less on your own. Start grasping that I am a mighty God, your warrior and defender, and that you also are more than a conqueror when you tap into my strength by the Holy Spirit.
Start believing that I am a God of complete, unconditional love. Start letting the pain and hurt, the scars and aches, fade and disappear as you lean into me as your lover and comforter, confidant and protector. Start letting me speak loving truths into you.
Start believing, deep down to your core, the truths that I say about you. Start fully believing that you are fully forgiven, fully loved, and fully beautiful to me. Start believing that you are worthy of such love. Start living every moment like you really believe it. Start living in the freedom that is yours because you are mine. Start living with a victory mindset, full of hope and faith. Start living the abundant life that I have won for you.
Start taking hold of the authority I gave you when you trusted me as your Savior, the authority to live without fear, to live with a heart filled with joy, the authority to be fully healed. Start trusting me also as your Lord and watch the pieces of everything else fall into place. Start letting go of control and rest in my peace as you lay things in my capable hands.
Start understanding that I have better plans for you than you have for yourself, that I know and care about your desires, but I am also looking at things from outside of time, and I see everything down to the tiniest detail, and I know what you need and what you can handle.
Start fully taking part in a journey with me and see what wonderful adventure awaits."
Ahh... it's always beautiful when I listen and let Jesus talk... I have come a long way, had a lot of inner healing, and have grasped the above to an extent... but it is time to start going deeper... deeper into God's goodness...
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV)
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
(Jesus speaking) "Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me."
Matthew 11:28 (TPT)
And I am finally doing a Five Minute Friday linkup! (Click here to see the linkup)
Yeah ok... so it's a wee bit after midnight... but it is still Friday in some time zones!
Anyways... The word is IF.
The first phrase that comes to mind is "what if?" God has been teaching me how to look at life differently.... through His eyes... and so here is a poem that is a positive spin of the What if game.
What if I truly believed
in God's great love for me?
What if I fully trusted
that Jesus has won the victory?
What if I stopped questioning
and just rested in God's embrace?
What if I listened only
to His voice of truth and grace?
What if I approached life
from the perspective of eternity?
What if I walked in faith
and let God's Spirit lead?
I just let go
and let God
I would rise like the eagle
soar in the light of dawn
with a heart full of joy
and a song of hope on my tongue
If I hold fast to the promises
of the great God who made me
He will ever be my strength
and breath life into my dreams
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Prov 3:5-6
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:30-31
Finally a month later, another Five Minute Friday! ..... Technically, its very very early Saturday........ but I have not gone to sleep yet so for me it is still Friday. :)
The word is Protect.
The first thing that came to mind upon seeing "protect" was the idea of protecting the heart... thoughts, attitudes and perceptions...
There is this idea found in Proverbs 4:23 --
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
Biblically, the heart involves the mind, will and emotions... so all that encompasses should be "protected" intentionally - as much as is possible anyway. It is certainly not easy, especially with emotions.
But as what happens in the heart influences attitude and leads to action - the "springs of life" - guarding it is very important.
I want springs of life that are clean and pure... that resemble a joyful, nourishing, fresh mountain stream... that are life-giving to me and those around.
How does that come about? Well there are several verses to that effect... two of the best, or at least my favorites, are:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
It starts with the thinking... the right kind of thoughts lead to a sense of peace, calm, joy... which lead to actions rooted in care, wisdom and rationality.
I have been shifting to a more positive focus, rooted in God's promises and His love, and I notice I am much happier and better off for it. That does not mean I am in "Lala Land" or am out of touch with reality - I remain fully aware of responsibilities, obligations, and needs that have to be met. But I am trusting God instead of wasting worry on matters. I am figuring out when I just need to wait on God to act, and when and what I need to act on. It takes practice... it's a process... but thankfully God is patient and faithful as I continue to keep a check on my attitude.
And it's time for another Five Minute Friday post! Linking up with katemotaung.com. The word is HAVEN.
1, 2, 3, GO:
Haven is one of those words that sounds like what it is... it is like a peaceful exhale of breath when saying it softly...
Haven... security... safety... shelter... refuge...
What a lovely word!
For me, a haven is where peace can be found, and healing can happen. Chains are undone and wings of joy unfurled.
I have two kinds of havens - one based in the physical, one in the spiritual... one tangible, one beyond normal reach.
The physical is found in the listening ears, the encouraging words and loving arms of family and friends. To be heard, understood, validated and lifted up by people I fully trust... it breathes life into broken areas, it soothes and strengthens... brings smiles and laughter... and firmer footing through reminders of the truth.
The spiritual is found in my faith - not religion, but a relationship with the God of the universe... with Jesus, the Son, and the Spirit... God's presence brings a peace like no other. A relationship with God means He is always available, always understands, and always comforts. When I call on Him, He pours love and joy into heart beyond description.
There are seasons when God feels far away, but I know He is still with me, and after coming out of those, the sense of His presence suddenly is back in a flood of sweet renewal like water after a desert journey, and that is when I realize the strength and grace He gave me all along.
...And God is so good, that though He might feel far away and His haven unreachable, He sends His love through the haven I find in friends and family. And eventually... the wilderness ends and I am enfolded once again in God's haven.
I can go through anything and come through stronger, be renewed, and have all the broken pieces knit together and healed by running to my haven.
One more thing.... this is after the five minutes, but inspired by "Haven" and still a rough draft...
Healing in the Haven
Searching for safe harbor
amidst the stormy seas
Where is the calm
Where is the peace
The exhale of a breath
A cry for calm
A plea for peace
A whispered prayer
A waiting heart
Then a stir in the air
Love is outpoured
From the author of love
The God who holds the world
This God holds my heart
and sends His healing touch
throughout every part
Every part of my being
is becoming renewed
as I am being healed
In God’s haven
I am forever sealed
Psalm 73:28 (NASB)
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge
Psalm 94:22 (NASB)
But the Lord has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)
You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].
Step into a scene with me for a moment… on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, around 2,000 years ago…
As our boat journeyed over the waters, I closed my eyes to pause and just enjoy the moment. A warm breeze brushed my face, carrying the scents of sea and fish. The boat gently rocked in rhythm with the waves, soothing in its motion. Snatches of banter and laughter from my sailing companions reached my ears, and I smiled. This is the life, I thought.
At the cry of a gull I opened my eyes and stared up to peer at it. As its wings beat up and down at a smooth, steady pace, I stared, transfixed by how it appeared to move so effortlessly, so freely, through the brilliant blue backdrop of sky. The gull dipped down close to the water, and I noticed the sunlight made the surface appear to be strewn with sparkling diamonds.
As I continued to watch, clouds began to roll in, blocking out the rays of the sun. The sky darkened and the waters started to churn and rise.
My companions were no longer laughing. Shouts and orders competed with the sounds of the storm. All sense of peace gone, I fought against growing panic. What chance did we have of survival amidst these crashing waves and howling winds?
Huge waves tossed the boat about like it was a toy and water poured onto the deck. I carefully made my way across the lurching surface of the boat to help my fellow sailors until a thought stopped me in my tracks. Where is Jesus? When did I last seen him?
I wiped seawater from my eyes and glanced about. I heard shouting from the direction of the stern and made my way there.
What I found shocked me speechless for a moment before I joined in with the shouts of the others.
Jesus sat with his head cushioned on his arm, his eyes closed. The wind whipped his hair and the waves sprayed him, and yet he slept!
“Save us!” We cried. “We’re going to perish in the storm!”
When all our shouting finally roused him, Jesus took a moment to give each of us a look in the eye. When he spoke, his tone was a mix of rebuke and reassurance in one.
“Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”
No one had an answer. We watched in awed silence as Jesus rose and faced the raging waves.
With a voice that boomed so loud and commanding it could be heard even above the fury of the storm, Jesus cried out, “Peace! Be still!”
The sea stilled, and the storm subsided. We looked at him, we looked at each other, and we could do nothing but marvel and wonder.
This is one of my favorite snapshots of scripture, found in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25. It convicts and reassures me at the same time.
Life is full of storms. Storms that knock our boats off kilter and pitch them willly-nilly, making us question if we will ever see the shore again.
I have weathered many storms. And each time a new one comes, I forget all about how I made it through the last one and worry that this one will tear apart the boat and leave me drifting and helpless.
I tend to respond like the disciples, and forget about faith.
And where does that get me? What does that accomplish?
Nowhere and nothing.
If I look at the rising water and roaring winds, then I fall into a panic and succumb to the stress. I fret and fear and grow weary with the worry.
How long til the storm passes? Will I make it to the safety of the shore? What condition will I be in when I reach the shore? How am I going to get through this? What do I do? Why is this happening? These questions can go around and around with no answers in sight as the storm keeps raging on. And I just keep wondering whether I can weather this storm.
And all this questioning and striving for solutions gets me is restlessness, headaches, an inability to concentrate, sleep deprivation, and a complete loss of relaxation or enjoyment of any activity.
Can you relate?
Well, the good news is there is a much better way…
It’s all about my focus. Is it on the waves and the wind, or the one who commands the waves and wind?
When I finally choose to look at God, His promises, and how He has helped me in the past, it is then, and only then, that I am at peace. This verse has proven true for me time and again, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
This requires a deliberate shift in thinking. It is not easy at first, but once you do it, oh the joy!
What helps me is to look through scripture – there are so many wonderful treasures in God’s word. The Psalms are one of my “go to” places when I need uplifting, but there are several encouraging snippets sprinkled throughout the scriptures that are soul-soothing.
I also look back at how God has been faithful in the past – to me personally, and what is recorded in bible stories. In fact, that idea itself is in the bible: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:11
And sometimes it helps to put myself in a bible story and make it come alive, like I did with the above story.
While the storms won’t stop coming, and they won’t always pass swiftly or easily, as long as I can see Jesus in the boat with me, I have the strength to make it.
What helps you hold on to Jesus?
© Seeking Life Beyond
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Hi, I am Angela, and welcome to my blog. I am a woman trying to rise above the tides of this life, seeking to grow closer to God and share His love in the process.