Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grounded in God

Yesterday, we saw how hope is much more than a dream. Hope dares ask the questions that dreams run from. Dreams prepare to wake; hope prepares to grieve. Why is this?

It's because hope holds within it this tiny little seed of life, and it is constantly looking for a place to put some roots down so that it can grow. It's not content to be groundless because it needs that ground. Its very essence depends on it.

That's why hope is willing to ask the hard questions. It's not asking whether something is possible; hope knows that in God, all things are possible. It's asking - can I set down roots here? Can I grow? It's asking - is this good?

And hope, true hope, knows that the answer is not always going to be yes. This may not be the place. This may not be the season. This may not be the ground in which this hope is meant to grow. Perhaps this hope comes bearing the wrong seed. Perhaps this land is not ready for such a hope. That's why hope prepares to grieve. Hope knows there are so many other factors beyond itself that make for a good hope, and it knows it can do no more than but start to till the soil.

But here's the cool thing: it always tills the soil.

That's what hope is doing when it asks the hard questions. That's why you can feel it stirring inside of you. Hope...is always preparing you for something. 

Recently, I had one of these moments. There was a dream taking shape in my heart. It was only a dream, but it wanted desperately to be a hope. It wanted to be one of those things that would plant itself in the depths of my heart and start to grow. But this dream knew that if it ever wanted to be a hope, it had to ask the hard questions. So this dream began asking - can I set down roots here? Can I grow? The dream had become a hope.

Heartbreakingly, it was simply not meant to be. Before the hope could even begin pouring itself out in the ground that it had tilled in my heart, the answer was clear: no. Not "not right now." Not "maybe later." Not "perhaps with a little tweak here and there." It was a painful, resounding no. Tremendous grief washed over me, and I could almost feel the loosened dirt blowing back over the hole that hope had tried to prepare for itself, like a stinging wind blowing through the desert. It hurt.

The truth is - it still hurts. I think that's probably one of the things we fail to understand well about grief - it hurts. And it doesn't just stop hurting. 

But that doesn't mean something beautiful can't still happen.

And here's what that something beautiful is: our hopes, or our dreams when they dare to become hope and ask the questions, they till the soil. They start to prepare the ground for something. And that hole - that deep, penetrating hole that hope dares to dig in the depth of your heart - it never goes unused. 

You just don't always get to plant the seed.

The no that my hope heard when it dared ask the question was hard. It hurt; it still hurts. But even as the winds began to blow over the hole that hope had left, I could very much feel something else being planted there. Not by my own hand, but by the hand of God. Not from my own hope, but from His. The vision I had to let go of when my hope heard no had opened my eyes to see the vision of God's hope for me. And it's...amazing.

In that moment, I had this clear understanding of what God was planting in me, of what He is going to do in my life, of how He's going to use me, of what's going to happen from here. ...and it still hurts that right now, that vision doesn't include some of the things that I wanted (and still want), some of the things that dug that hole in the first place. For that, I will continue to grieve. But it does contain some things I could never have imagined, some breathtaking promises that...I don't even know what to do with. It's humbling to think that God could ever have imagined that for me. At once, I felt both the sting of grief and the song of joy. 

They're not mutually exclusive.

And that's why we have to dare to hope and not just dream. Hope always, always prepares us for something because it's never content to be merely a wisp. It longs to set down roots, to grow. But hope is no fool, and it is no foolishness. It knows that sometimes, the answer is no. And on that no, hope is willing to die.

But the soil has been turned, the ground tilled, the heart stirred, and none of that goes to waste. Hope is selfless that way; it leaves the heart to greater things. And something...something gets drawn deep into the hole that hope has dug. Something gets planted in the depths of the heart. And that something starts to set down roots. It starts to grow. It becomes...our hope.

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