Uncharted Waters

John was sent to live in exile on the island of Patmos as a result of anti-Christian persecution. His crime: he preached the word of God and he lived his life as a testimony for Jesus. He lived and survived alone on that island. All alone.

But he wasn’t alone.

During John’s exile, God was close to him. God was all he had. God spoke to him through a vision. John wrote down everything he saw in the vision. The name of his book is Revelation. It is the last book of the Bible. It’s a unique book full of visions and prophecies. God spoken words in a time of aloneness but never alone.

What does a man do all alone on an island? How does he spend his time? How does he survive? What goes through his mind? Will he be bored with only God to talk to? Does he have God’s word stored in his heart? Can he can dig through the reservoir of his mind and find strength and comfort from his knowledge of Scripture? When all has been lost, is his faith in God alone enough?


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12


We may feel like we’re living in exile at this moment in history. But we’re not. Some of us are living with family. Some are alone, but they keep in touch with family and friends. If you know someone who is truly alone, reach out. Check on them.

This time in history is a first for everyone. Uncharted waters for even the best of us. Now is the time to gather your family close. Those who live with you. Those you can be with. Keep in touch with family and friends. The contact means so much.

Oh. Things have changed. We can no longer shop in stores. visit a salon. eat in a restaurant. go to a movie. Sure. These closings are temporary, but they’re new to us. We’ve never experienced anything like this. This change will continue without an ending in sight. Who knew?

Private funerals. Private weddings. Even close family members can’t attend. Hospital patients alone without family or visitors. Everyone needs to stay in place.

Oh. It’s easy to be frustrated. My hair appointment was only 5 days away when it was canceled. My grocery store was out of potatoes. The bakery that makes my dogs favorite treats has been out of them for weeks. I’ve had to start working from home. Petty inconveniences.

Lean in. They say. Hold your loved ones a little closer. Look across the room at the one who stole your heart. Think back to the reason they won your heart. And pause. Remember the moments of first love. And recall the reasons you chose to say “I do”. Make the most of this time with your loved ones.

Watch your children as they do homework. Oh. You may have never planned to home school, but now you are. Make the most of it. Be patient. Extend grace. Show mercy. Have fun. Let these days be the good times your kids look back on when they are older.

Allow yourself to become bored. This could spur you on to learn a new hobby. A hobby that could be life changing. Or not. But who knows what change can do for you. Be willing to explore. Read a book. Take a walk. Try a new recipe. Let your hair grow. You have no choice in the matter. Embrace it.

Pay it forward to the grocery worker. Pharmacy staff. Delivery drivers. Bankers. Healthcare workers. First responders. City, county, state and national employees. Everyone needs a break every now and then. Don’t judge a person’s politics. Embrace differences. But keep your convictions.

Lasting self confidence is built in pure faith in God. Trusting and obeying God in the hard times of life builds a strong reliance on him that produces an unmatched strength of character. 

In Christ alone I place my trust. 

This period of isolation may be the time in your life where you reap the greatest blessings from God. This may be the season where you find life’s true meaning. Trust the master of the uncharted waters to lead you to new depths in your walk with him. 

Read a book. Study the Bible. Memorize Scripture. Live out the Beatitudes. Honor those in authority. Pray. Really pray.

That money you would typically spend at a restaurant or sports event or concert. That money you would use to pay for a haircut or a massage or a pedicure. All that discretionary money you aren’t spending right now. Put it into savings. Or give to a needy nonprofit organization. Send an extra check to your church. Give to others in need. After all, how many new clothes or shoes do you need if you’re staying home all day? How much food or toilet paper do you need to hoard when others can’t pay their rent? How do you expect charities to help when they don’t have the funds coming in? How is a church supposed to help in times of crisis if believers aren’t faithful in giving their tithes and offerings?

Be generous. Be the giver. Be the gift. Chart new waters.

We Have the Hope

She walked into my office and sat down. I don’t think I can do this job. She said. I understood where she was coming from. Just a few short months ago, I was saying the same words.

I told her there was hope. Things will click. It just takes time.  You will get there. I continue to give her words of encouragement, because I know she’s capable. I know if she sticks to it, she will have more than hope. She will have a newfound confidence that comes only through perseverance. I know that eventually she will be able to encourage other new ones who come behind her to persevere in their time of learning.

The thing is. I can’t rescue her from the difficulties she is facing. I can’t relieve the fears she feels in her insecurities. I can’t do the job for her. I have my own work to do. She must face the uncertainties and newness with boldness and strength. She must be willing to do the hard work in order to see the results. I hope she is willing.

But fear is a thing to be reckoned with. It can overtake. Overwhelm. Overrule our good intentions. It can pull us under if we don’t think rationally about the reality of the situation. Oh. It’s ok to be fearful. But fear doesn’t have to rule our lives and thoughts and actions. Fear is a liar.

There is hope. Without hope, we crumble. We fall. We lose our way. But when hope surfaces, the sun shines brighter. The flowers are prettier. The breathing is clearer. The day is worth living.

We all need something to hope for. Something to get us out of bed in the morning. But what is it? What do I hope for? What is my deepest longing?

I have given Christ countless reasons not to love me. None of them changed his mind. Paul Washer

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?


No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39


I’ll tell you what gives me hope and quiets my fears.

Nothing can separate me from God’s love. Not even trouble or calamity. Not even persecution or hunger or poverty or danger. Not even if I’m threatened with death. God loves me even in the hard times.

Death or life can’t separate me from God’s love. Neither can angels or demons. The fears of today and the worries of tomorrow can’t make God stop loving me. The powers of hell can’t separate me from God’s love.

There is no power in the sky above or in the earth below that can remove God’s love from me. Nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate me from God’s love.

Jesus Christ is mightily loving his people with omnipotent, moment-by-moment love that does not always rescue us from calamity but preserves us for everlasting joy in his presence even through suffering and death. John Piper

The good news is this. God’s love is forever. It is eternal. His love is so deep and so wide. It encompasses everything. No matter what I do or what I say. God will still love me. He can’t stop loving me.

That’s why he paid the ultimate price by giving his Son in my place. That gives me a hope that never runs dry. God’s love is forever. And therein lies my hope.

Reason for Hope

I am by nature a pessimist.  Oh.  The glass is half empty.  Always.  There’s no pretty way around it.  I see the half of the glass that’s already been drunk.  It’s empty.  Gone.  That cold drink of water that I had craved.  Oh.  How it satisfied.  My thirst was quenched.  For a moment.  But it’s now gone.  Never to return.  It’s only a memory.  The rest of the water in the glass is inconsequential.  Doesn’t matter.  What mattered is what I no longer have.

Is that how it feels to live without hope?  Thinking the best of life is over.  Thinking that there are no more mountains to climb.  No more foes to conquer.  Thinking that you are the foe to be conquered.  Oh.  You may be standing now.  But not for long.  If there is no hope.

I don’t know what it’s like to live without hope.  That may sound strange for a pessimist.  But I’ve always had the thought that my best life was still to come.  Oh.  I know the day will come when that will no longer be the case.  But for today.  A girl can dream.  And I still dream.

So you may ask.  What is my hope?

Hope is the dream of something new

An old friendship renewed

Morning sun peeping through the windows

The win of a ballgame

A new love or a stronger love

The first glance at crooked teeth made straight

The first step once thought impossible

Fresh picked corn on the cob

A sight for sore eyes

Strength to pick up loose ends

The breath of forgiveness

A kiss on the lips

A warm chocolate chip cookie

A drop of rain on parched soil

The scent of wild honeysuckle on an evening drive through the country

The sighting of a rainbow in the clouds

Freedom to wave the American flag


If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15


But there is more.

My hope is in a Creator who knew me before I was born.

My hope is in the baby born to a virgin and laid in a manger.

My hope is in a boy of twelve wise beyond his years.

My hope is in the Light of the World  who leads me out of darkness.

My hope is in a Provider who meets all my needs.

My hope is in a Redeemer who died on the cross for me.

My hope is in a Savior who forgave my sins.

My hope is in Jesus Christ who will return to this earth someday to usher all believers into heaven.

My hope is in a Heavenly Father who is preparing an eternal home for me in heaven.

If I lose everything, I still have my God.

So yes.  I do have hope.

 

Hope Eternal

I stood there with tears streaming down my face.  The door to the past was closed.  The future uncertain.  Trust was at its lowest.  Fear loomed large.  I cried out to my God.  Please show me hope.  Show me hope today.

Later that morning, as I stood in the rain with my dog, I looked over and saw signs of spring.  Purple hyacinths were popping their heads out of the green.  The yellow of daffodils was opening.  The leaves of the bleeding hearts were rising from the ground.  Peonies were poking through the soil.  I saw hope.  Even in the rain, hope was around me.  Hope of better days.  Hope of new beginnings.  Hope of building trust again.

I saw hope on another day.  Male cardinals vying for the female’s attention.  Loud chirping.  Swooping tails in flight.  Chasing each other through the branches.  I saw hope.  Hope for rebirth.  Hope for renewal.  Hope for dreams fulfilled.

Perhaps there was hope for me.  A phone call.  An encouraging text.  A lunch and movie.  Time with friends.  Renewal.  Rest.  Reset.  Hope.


But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  Isaiah 43:18-19


The Israelites had been mistreated for far too long.  They were waiting for a savior.  One to rescue them.  One to right their wrongs.  Oh.  Their suffering became worse before it ended.  Perhaps hope did wane.  Discouragement can cloud hope when it seems as if God isn’t listening.

But God was listening.  He heard their cries.  God offered hope when He sent Moses to deliver them.  And God delivered His people in a mighty way.  Miracle after miracle flowed from his fingertips into their lives.  God proved with his mighty hand that he was in control every step of the way.  God destroyed their enemy in front of their very eyes.

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”  Exodus 5:22-61 NRSV

This is Easter Week.  Holy Week.  Just the name implies hope.  But in order to see that hope appear, horrible events took place.  The sentencing of an innocent man.  Sentenced to death on a cross.

When Jesus cried out asking why God had forsaken him, I wonder if God turned to him and said.  Now you shall see what I will do by my mighty hand. 

Did Jesus see hope as he was dying on the cross?  Did he see hope for you?  For me?

Oh.  Two days later as he left the tomb very much alive, hope came in a bright light.  Hope rolled the stone away from his tomb.  Hope breathed life into his torn body. Hope shown through him as he appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Hope appeared as he showed his scarred hands to Thomas.

This was a different hope. This was a new hope.  This was hope eternal. Everlasting hope.

Today the daffodil bloomed.

Dreams Encouraged

The women will swarm the city this week.  They will come in droves to hear speakers, to receive good gifts, to be honored. They will tour the facility.  They will party.  They will worship.  They will be celebrated, encouraged and rewarded.

This event is the culmination of a year of hard work and achievement.  Many of the women have been working for this for years.  Other women have just started their journey.  Some women have reached the heights of success.  Others are still dreaming of the prize.  Many women are leaders.  Most can only hope.

Each of these women have different goals.  Each of them views success differently.  These women are dreaming of a new life.  They’re hoping for a change in their current situation.  A good change.  A change for the better.  A fresh start.  For some, it’s a second chance.

Many of these women have worked very hard to build their business.  Most, if not all, have struggled.  Some have remained faithful and have reaped the rewards.  Others aren’t sure they have what it takes, but they still put forth an effort.  Many more have fallen by the wayside.  Not because the task is impossible, but because they didn’t persevere.  They gave up when the going got tough.  They moved on when moving up didn’t come easy.

To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.  Ecclesiastes 5:19b

I see myself in each of these women.  I’ve tried to be successful at my dreams.  I’ve persevered. For a while.  I get discouraged. I lose faith.  I back off.  I dream again.  I start the cycle once more.  I wonder if I have what it takes to be successful.  I wonder if I have what it takes to achieve my dream.

Why do I have dreams if I can’t accomplish them?  Is it too late?  Am I too old?  Do I have what it takes? How will I know if I don’t keep trying?

I shared my dream with others last year.  They encouraged me.  I dusted off my dream and began pursuing it.  It’s hard work.  It’s tough to stay motivated.  It’s invigorating.  It’s rewarding.  It’s challenging.  It’s fulfilling.

But I’ve started.  That’s the first step.  Just doing it is a great feeling.

Here’s what I wonder.  Am I successful only if I beat everyone else at the dream?  Am I proclaimed a winner only if I get the top prize?  Is it enough to pursue it and possibly never finish?

Here’s what I know.  I need to remain faithful to the dream.  I need to work at it.  Pursue it.  Try to do my best at it.

I celebrate the fact that I have dreams.  I feel empowered to pursue the ideas I envision.

I am encouraged by others to pursue the dream.  It’s my dream and I own it.

I am rewarded with peace and contentment when I am faithful to the dream.  I measure my success by knowing I’m pursuing the gifts God put within me.