Monday, September 5, 2016

"i have this hope…"

"I have this hope,
in the depth of my soul,
in the flood or the fire
you're with me,
and you won't let go..."

When I have a deep hunger for spiritual understanding, and words alone feel one dimensional, I retreat to songs. There is something about the marriage of music and lyrics that gives life to my longing. Tenth Avenue North is one of my go-to bands. And recently it was their, "I Have This Hope," that met me right where I was, and walked me forward out of darkness.

I needed a reminder. The inner critic was persistent. It insisted that I was on the verge of letting everyone down. That even my best, just wasn't good enough. It was all up to me, and I was failing.

I had been reading for days. Turning to Scripture and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy for guidance in my search for a way out of the swift spiral I found myself drowning in. There were dozens of pointers, but nothing was penetrating the atrophy of human thinking, and reaching my heart.

That's when I turned to song. I pulled up a window on my browser and found the link to Youtube that I have bookmarked. I didn't know what I was searching for, just knew that I needed something. Tenth Avenue North, Casting Crowns, Sara Groves, and Chris Tomlin are all inspirational singer-songwriters who have never let me down. Their songs spring from a deep love for God and an honest understanding of the human experience. It was what I needed.

I love the word "hope," and so I typed in Tenth Avenue North and hope in the search field and their recording of "I Have This Hope," came up. I clicked on the window and sat back. It was just what I needed. A reminder that I was not letting anyone down, because it was not my job to hold anyone up. Even myself. That was God's job. I was dishonoring Him by thinking that he was not here, with me, and with them.

It brought me back to a fundamental spiritual promise that I'd lost sight of. One that fills Scripture and generously peppers the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and countless other spiritual thought-leaders. It answered the hope-cry in the depth of my soul:

"Lo, I am with you alway..."

This was enough to begin to free me from fear, self-doubt, worry, loneliness, flood or fire, triumph or terror. How did I forget? How do we ever forget? Doesn't every worrisome claim boil down to this one lie about God -- that He is absent from our lives, or the lives of our loved ones, neighbors, and local, national or global leaders?

It didn't take long to say I was sorry to God. To remember that my love for Him was best expressed by my trust in His love. It was never about me or my abilities. It was always about God's nature and my trust in His unwavering care for His creation. My heart broke wide open with love for God's mercy.

As Tenth Avenue North sings,

"I don't want to live in fear
I want to trust that you are near..."

I don't want to trust God as a means to an end, but as the very "end" itself. To be so completely at peace in an abiding trust that God is near -- in flood or in fire -- that the voices of doom and doubt cease to have any information for me.   Or as Paul writes in Hebrews:

"Now faith is the substance
of things hoped for,
the evidence of things
not seen..."

Faith, translated from the original Aramaeic is "trust." This is the substance of my greatest hope: to trust God. This is the evidence I am seeking -- in myself -- moment-by-moment. A trust that isn't just tapping her foot impatiently and saying, "hey, I trust You, so where's the evidence?" But a trust that rests -- like a small child -- in the peace which passeth all understanding. A trust that is beyond the human need to understand how God's love will manifest itself. A childlike trust that yields to the love of its divine Parent.

It is enough. No, I don't know how some of the questions and concerns that I am facing will be answered. I don't have a plan, a strategy, or a solution that is giving me peace. Those may give momentary relief from worry, but they will never give me an enduring peace. And I want what is enduring, eternal. I find this only when I am resting in this truth that:

"The Lord is with me..."

As I said, this trust is enough. It is all the evidence I need. I may not understand how everything will work out. But I do know that this trust is the substance of all my hopes -- for all of us. May you feel like a child who trusts that your Father-Mother God is always with you -- in tear or triumph. I have this hope.

offered with Love,


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