Wednesday, January 6, 2016

those who hope

"O Lord, you alone are my hope. 
I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhood."
Psalm 71:5

These are the corridors in which our faith must put its proverbial rubber to the road.   

I visited a friend this morning, just prior to her surgery to remove a large mass from her lung.  It would seem trite to write about anything else; and yet, I sometimes cannot shake the sense that it feels trite to write at all.  

I keep thinking about something Anne Lamott once said, "Even if we all sing the same song, there would still be six billion renditions".  These repeated renditions.  But we keep singing our songs, writing our words.  Per King Solomon, there is nothing new under the sun - but we still each have our own experiences, our own stories, our faith intertwined in their midst.  We keep on singing.  We keep on writing.          

I sit at my friend's bedside and we chat about our kids, our husbands, about her "last supper" before the pre-op fasting had began. Exactly as I would've chosen: chips and salsa and queso, steak fajitas from one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

We talked about our faith some, just this trusting that God's "got this".  We talked about the fear, the unknowing, the lack of control one feels when going under anesthesia.  "I don't like the feeling of not being in control," she confesses. 

None of us do.  

But we all feel it to some degree, don't we?  This ambiguous sense of authoritative, autonomous self-control.  We feel that we are somehow in charge of ourselves, our lives, our families.  We're calling all the shots, rolling along.  Until we're not.  Until we're swiftly humbled and brought to our knees by both the reality and fragility of life.  

I take her hand and we pray.  We pray for the peace that transcends understanding.  We pray for the comfort of the holy spirit to be all-encompassing, palpable there in that room; there in her heart.  And we pray for His perfect love to cast out all fear, according to His word.  

I walk the long, winding corridors back out.  Thinking of my friend and her trusting.  Her surrendering.  Because isn't that what trust is, after all?  This constant surrendering of our lives, of our own control, to Him and to His will?  Where we can say, "Lord, have your way" even when it seems the hardest, scariest thing of all.

I walk along an empty corridor along the way, the doors are opened, revealing the empty rooms and shifting shadows from the windows.  They're there.  If only we'd look for them.  These lessons.  This learning - to trust, to surrender, again and again and again.  


These lessons, hidden behind the half-opened doorways along our path.  Even in the empty places, if we'll only stop and pause and look long enough, He gives us eyes to see them. 

I think about my own faith journey.  The well-lit pathways and the darkened corners, His faithfulness through it all.  Those years I spent as a Pharisee, a whitewashed tomb.  Empty on the inside.  

I'm feel the pangs of empathy stinging my heart for my friend, along with the pangs of conviction stinging my heart for my sin, the lack of surrender in my own life lately.  For putting my hope in other things - even good things - but the things of this world.  

I was reminded today that my hope is in the Lord.  

I have a canvas hanging over my desk at home.  Given to me by the same friend I visited today.  It has a verse on it; the same one I wrote inside of her card today; the same one I've been praying over her today; the same one the Lord reminded me of all over again today... 

"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 40:31


 I've read this verse many times, but I didn't realize until today that some translations have "trust" in the place of hope...

- and oh, aren't they one in the same.  

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