St. James UMC Beaumont Texas
|Posted on July 27, 2016 at 3:30 PM|
“Hope as a Stepping Stone of Life”
In the midst of all of the confusion, conflict, violence, panic and fear, I believe God hasn’t left us without hope. I mean, if God is dead, we are all doomed. Looking at looming disasters around us makes it easy to forfeit hope. Hearing of tragedy day after day and hour after hour, it’s no wonder folk are losing hope while surrendering their peace and dreams? I’ve even been hearing the “last rights” of the church across the land. Let’s not forget the media, one of the most dramatic channels inciting fear and an ethical erosion at maximum levels. Hollywood plays its role by generating an exponential capital of wealth while using targeted television series to perpetuate further immorality as our culture rapidly spirals downward. Nevertheless, in spite of these occurrences, my spirit bears witness with the spirit of truth (Holy Spirit) that God is still at work. I still have hope.
As Maya Angelo so eloquently denotes, “Still I rise”. I rise because greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. I rise because I know and understand who holds my future. I rise because of the working of the Holy Spirit that energizes the very depth of my soul.
I believe hope is the essential factor that holds our faith together. It is the place of renewal and refreshment if we don’t throw it away (Hebrews 10:35). Hope is the awakening of a shifted perspective based in who and what we say we are. It offers fresh perspectives which allows us to see our situations through the lenses of God’s promises instead of current circumstances. We must be careful that the lack of hope doesn’t sabotage our transition into the wonderful plan God has ordained for each of us. Yes, God still has a plan in this unrelenting tapestry of conflict and unrest. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). You see, if we only look or see through our current situation, it would be enough to immobilize us leaving us in a state of paralysis. We all have some ideas of what it looks and feels like to be in a state of paralysis caused by some shock to our humanness. But somehow and some way through reclaiming hope through the promises of God, our perspective is shifted in a way that jolts our minds and heart causing a peripheral view of our current situation. Then voila! Hope arises and our trust in who and what we say we believe comes alive. Hope not only shifts our perspectives, but settles our hearts so that we are able to move through the transitions of this journey called life. Without hope, we can sabotage our own destiny without realizing it. In other words “Hope” keeps us going.
I was reading an article by Lance Wallnau, “How to Keep from Sabotaging Your Own Transition”, and he poses some very pertinent questions that I think is really focusing in on hope. He says, “There are 3 powerfully clarifying questions that he has learned to use in times of transition.
1. “Who will I need to be now, that’s I’ve never been before?”
2. “What will I need to do now that I’ve never done before?”
3. “Who will God be for me now that He has never been before?
This last question is one that I’ve often ask in fellowship communities. The reason being is that we can get so bogged down in the past that we don’t see the future. Hope gives us a future and we are able to stand in time of transition.
The above questions have a lot to do with hope being positioned in our lives in such a way that we don’t lose sight that God is still at work in times of transition.
Another aspect of hope is learning to stand on the promises that are revealed through scripture and maintaining your God-given Identity. The two, I believe, are crucial for hope because we can’t stand for what we don’t believe in. In the words of the Psalmist, “our hearts must be fix and our minds made up”. In my own book; “Spiritual Stolen Identity”, I reflect on what it means to have an identity in Christ and learning how to reclaim and maintain this identity. It is in difficult moments that our identity is challenged. We are tempted to stop and throw in the towel when we don’t see or experience the outcome we expected or even see what we didn’t expect; especially when people begin with the lines, “I thought you were___ or You can’t do ___”. You can fill in the blanks.
Identity can play a major role in stepping into hope. Hope is a place where our identity in God has to supersede what it looks and feels like. This comes from an inward witness where hope comes alive. Some of us have heard the slogan “Keep Hope Alive.” Our identity in Christ gives us permission to step into “hope.” This renewed vision of being in Christ keeps us steadfast. We step into Hope knowing who God is for us right now. We step into hope knowing whose we are and who we are in Christ.
Hope is a wonderful grace that helps our transition from and into. I encourage you to use hope as your stepping stone as you are in transition.