When I look back at where I was this time last year and what God did in me this year - I can certainly praise Him for the work He has done in answering my prayer to help me trust Him more. I trust His goodness and His love for me. Of course it's not like I can check "trust" off my list and say I got it all figured it out --- but what I'm saying here is that there has been progress and growth. He has helped me in this area.
- trust in God's goodness
- trust Holy Spirit to work despite my own imperfections
- trust in myself more and what I believe the Holy Spirit is telling me
Hope is so powerful. After another series of struggles I went through about a month ago - my Brandon reminded me again of his life verses, Romans 5:1 - 5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Then when I went back to MyOneWord post for 2009 - I saw this verse Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
and I was so excited - it really to me was confirmation of what God had done. As I've trusted in Him - He has filled me with hope. As I've trusted in Him and His goodness and love for me --- even through suffering (as small as the suffering might seem to others) - He has produced so much hope in me.
Despite the doubts I've had, despite the disappointments, the lost expectations, lost dreams, damaged relationships, and brokenheartedness I've had this year ---- there is hope. I can feel Him at work even though many times nothing that I physically see or hear reinforces that hope. I feel the hope, that tiny spark of light (as Kathy Escobar has described it as) that the Holy Spirit has given me - despite the circumstances around me.
I am soo excited to be in a season of learning again. My obedience to listen to God's voice telling me to simplify and MOVE from the position I was in has been one of the best decisions of my life... as small a decision as it was. Being in obedience allowed me to continue to hear the Shepherd's voice clearly. I feel so free and truly free to be ME again - and to be on the path He wants me on right now. I am moving forward again and not just stagnant which is what I was feeling for quite a few months there.
The advent season really is so much about hope too. I read 3 great posts the past week that I just had to include here:
Joseph:Unplanned Detours by Jon Bloom
Waiting, Hoping, Expecting the Wrong Things by Kathy Escobar
Thin Places: Surprise by Karl
They all tied in so perfectly to what the Holy Spirit had been speaking to my soul.
Karl and Kathy's both spoke to me about the wrong expectations I have had in many areas. In many ways, the entitlement attitude I've had about many things. Ouch. In particular, in finances or just 'things'. I have really repented and had to confess many times to God my desire for wealth/riches in many different forms. Even if it *is* for 'good reasons' and because of all the good we could do with it..... the Bible is so clear that the love of money is not what God desires. It can not be more important than God. It can not be an indicator to us of a person's relationship with God. It's not good or bad. Things are not good or bad. Money is not good or bad. It just is. But our hearts toward these things are what messes things up so much. Is it lack of humility, conditioning from culture, lust for for different idols - whatever the reasoning, I realize that many of the things I always thought I was looking for, waiting for are wrong expectations and are just not that important. And in hoping, expecting, waiting, anticipating wrong things I am missing out on what IS. Because as Kathy so beautifully put it, "I have more than enough of what's important". As I commented on her blog --- the world judges spiritual health or spiritual blessings by so many things other than spiritual health and blessings. Money does not always = God's favor. Physical health does not always = God's favor. God's favor is evident in fruits of the Spirit, gifts of the Spirit. Check out the Bible & writing of the early disciples.
*Side note - though we will always have the poor among and 'things' are not important --- that doesn't mean we just don't give it ANY important --- we are called to care deeply about the poor and suffering. We are called to be generous to those in need!*
Just as so many people totally missed the Messiah because of how he came to earth, lived his life, the way he brutally and inhumanely died not as earth royalty.... so might we totally miss God and life with Him if we're expecting, anticipating looking for wrong 'signs' or 'things'.
I thank God for this shift that has happened in us. I know that we have lived very simply actually compared to many the past 5 years --- but God doesn't ask us to compare to others. He's asking for more from us. I am so thankful for the way my husband handles our finances. I know that he is wise not going in to debt and being generous with what we've had. We barely spend anything 'extra' as it is besides food --- but I learned that even if we aren't spending and are giving --- we can very much still be lusting/desiring/loving --- because of what I've mentioned - expectations, entitlement atttitude, priority of goals, even the attitude in our giving.
In Jon Bloom's blog, I believe the last paragraph's really said so much, "The unplanned, inefficient detours of our lives are planned by God. They are common for disciples, and they commonly don’t make sense in the moment. But God’s ways are not our ways because our lives are about him, not about us. He is orchestrating far more than we know in every unexpected event and delay. So when you find yourself suddenly moving in a direction you had not planned, take heart, hold tight, and trust God’s navigation"
Well amen. So here is to HOPE. in this season of anticipation as we celebrate advent, Christmas --- I'm so thankful for the hope I have in Christ. Hope for today and for the future. I really have no clue what is ahead and what God is asking next of us but I'm so thankful that I am back with my spiritual compass focused on God (as shelby humphreys wrote to me). Because of the trust I have in who is navigating, I am full of hope. In my trust this past year to just take small steps in SOME direction - I learned so much and I found out which paths are and are not for us. With the discontentment the Holy Spirit spoke to me regarding much of what I saw and experienced this past year - I am fueled with hope and not full of frustration (in general). I am so so thankful for the NOW, knowing that I have more than enough of what is important.
There is HOPE
Some of the very very many verses on HOPE in the Bible:
But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. Psalm 9:18
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love Psalm 33:18
We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5
For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. Psalm 71:5
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 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
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:11-13
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:6-7
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:12-13
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. II Corinthains 3:12
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope Galatians 5:5
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called Ephesians 4:4
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you Colossians 1:3-5
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. I thes 5:8
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, II Thes 2:16
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I Tim 6:17
While we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain... Hebrews 6:19
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1