When one year closes and a new one begins, hope is ushered in.
While we’re busy making our New Year’s resolutions, the master of new beginnings is waiting quietly in the wings, whispering hope into our hearts, just like this:
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
This is our great God of hope doing what God does best… assuring us that the past is the past; filling us with hope; cheering us on into this new year; encouraging us to keep moving forward; holding our shaky hands every step of the way.
I’m excited to announce that here on the blog, I’ll be starting something brand-new, and I want you to be part of it. Continue reading →
So he was there again this morning, that gorgeous kingfisher with the long beak and the beady eye, perched quietly atop our pontoon boat.
We’ve watched him as he dives deep into the lake and emerges a few moments later dangling a poor, flapping fish from his beak. We really should stop watching at that point….but we’re unable to put the binoculars down. It’s too fascinating, seeing this grisly glimpse into nature, this devouring… it really is.
Our kingfisher is in that same spot every. single. morning. Because he knows it’s simply the best place to be. It’s where he gets fed.
Then there’s me.
My family and all my friends think I’m a wonderful Christian. And I try, I really do. But somehow, I don’t quite measure up. I KNOW where I should be every single morning. I know the best place to get fed. But I fail so miserably.
In my defense, my Bible does have a prominent spot right at the side of my bed… but my phone sits on top of it. And therefore takes precedence.
But I NEED God… I really do, especially on gray, cloudy days like this one, when the sun won’t shine. And my heart is troubled.
On days like this I so need to know and remember that God is the one who can heal all hurts and right all wrongs, who can mend broken hearts and hold us when we cry.
God is the one who catches every tear, who fixes our failures and whispers hope into our hearts; the one who makes a way when there seems no way.
God is the one who tells me I am loved no matter what I do, or don’t do, no matter how many miserable times I fail or how many times I fall. God will lift me up.
I stepped out onto the sodden grass this morning, trying to get a better picture of that kingfisher as he sat atop our pontoon boat. I wanted a close-up. The grass was long and wet with rain. My socks were soaked. But I’d only taken a few steps when he flew away.
God is not like that.
Because I know that the minute I start running to God, God will run to me.
I know God is the one waiting for me to turn and take those steps, and before I’ve even put my foot down, God is running, running right towards me, holding out those great big arms that will scoop me up and hold me tight and never let me go.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a farmer’s wife. I wanted to emulate the lady in the apron who came swinging cheerfully through the kitchen doors carrying a steaming hot platter of roast ham and new potatoes for the kids whose adventures I loved to read about in the Famous Five.
The Farmer’s Wife was always happy. She was everyone’s favorite. You just had to love her. She was popular; she was treasured; she was special. And I wanted to be her.
But it didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t cook. And all farmers’ wives can cook. I couldn’t grow vegetables either. And all farmers’ wives grow vegetables.
When I was a young teenager, I wore my skirts short and etched my eyes in deepest kohl. I wanted to be like my friend…the one who always had a boy holding her hand. The one who was chosen; the one who was beautiful; the one who was loved. I wanted to be chosen, and loved, and beautiful too.
But no amount of makeup could mask my pimples; no high heels could make me as tall as her; no expensive conditioner could make my hair as smooth.
And even though I was raised in a Christian home, the voice of the world was always louder than the Voice of the Word. I just couldn’t hear when God tried to whisper hope into my heart.
And even though I had a Bible, and knew all the exciting stories it contained, I somehow missed all the wonderful promises that were just waiting to be discovered within its pages.
And I wish, when I was that long-ago girl, I could have read a book like Love Letters from God. Because maybe if I had, I might have heard God whisper:
You will be my special treasure!
Maybe then I would have known that I do not have to be a good cook or grow vegetables to be popular or special or treasured in God’s eyes.
And if that book had been mine, I would surely have cherished every letter that bore my name, and claimed every promise when God told me:
I have chosen you!
I will hold your hand!
I have loved you with an everlasting love!
And maybe if I had truly believed those wonderful words, I would not have needed to strive to be beautiful in the eyes of the world. Because surely then I would have understood that I am chosen by One whose enormous love for me would last beyond all my time; whose strong hand would always hold on to mine; and in whose eyes I am beautiful indeed.
But it is never too late. And that is why I wrote the book—so God’s letters could be read, so God’s promises could be claimed, so God could gently whisper hope into our hearts.
It’s a balmy summer’s evening in the little lakeside town. And although the restaurant is busy, I still hear her voice as she sings the lullaby.
The singer is hidden from view, but her notes dance in the air between her alcove and mine. I don’t remember the words she sings, but I do remember the conversation she had on the phone just prior to it.
Grandma, is hein bed?
Okay, I’m ready. Can you pass him the phone?
Then she starts to sing. Her voice is soft, yet strong; a quiet little melody that floats above the partition and makes me wonder…
Who is she singing to?
I’m glad when the waitress comes to tell us our table is ready. It means I can get a glimpse of our mysterious singer as we pass by.
It’s just as I thought. She’s only ten or twelve years old; long, dark hair; eyes down; the phone held close; a sweet little voice that finishes its song as I glance quizzically at her mom.
We’re on vacation, she explains…. just for the weekend. She’s singing to her younger brother who has to stay at home. He has special needs and gets too upset when his routine is altered. She sings him a lullaby every night before he goes to sleep….
she wanted him to know that he’s not been forgotten.
I smile and nod before the singer pauses and I bend down to the girl to tell her,
You’re a good sister.
And I think about that little boy; tucked up in bed somewhere; waiting for his song; quieted by his goodnight lullaby; knowing he is not forgotten.
And how we all need to be sung over; how love can be quietly wrapped in the notes of a lullaby.
And like that good shepherd who rejoices over his lamb, there is One who holds me close and sings over me; whose wonderful voice is the very same voice that first hovered over the darkness of the deep;
Who spoke the world into being;
Who whispered promise to Abraham on a starlit evening;
Who called to Moses from a flame-filled bush;
Who commanded the storm be still;
How that very same voice is singing softly over me…
A song that quietly reminds me I am somehow part of a never-ending story; a lullaby that floats above all my moments and tells me I am not forgotten.
He will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17