When Hope Doesn’t Come

 

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:

but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life

.Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred: late, delayed, postponed, tardy, overdue.

What do we do when our hope is delayed, postponed, or overdue?

My last post was written with joy and anticipation because my newest grandson was on his way to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for the first time.  Oh, the desire came, and if that’s the tree of life—well then, the tree of life is a really wonderful thing!

However, the reason for the visit was so that our son could audition at Penn State University for their Piano Performance Doctoral program.  However, a week before that, he received an email stating that there had been an oversight on their part.  Because his undergraduate work was done at a university which was not regionally accredited, he did not qualify, EVEN THOUGH he was finishing his master’s at an accredited university.  In spite of all the phone calls from both universities and conversations with professors, they would not budge, and my hope was not only deferred, it was dashed to the ground!   My heart continues to cry, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!”

You see, that audition would have opened the possibility that my newest grandson (oh yes, and his parents :)) would only be an hour and a half from here instead of eleven hours.  I didn’t realize how much I had already placed them there until the crash came!

Well, what do you do?  For me, I wrestled it to the Lord, and submitted to the fact that they would be in Wisconsin, near my daughter-by-choice’s family.  That was good.  I was happy for them.  It could work out.  However, that was not to be either!  Lord, what are you doing?????

So, second wrestling came into place.  God wants them to stay in South Carolina.

Now we move to our other son, who lives twenty minutes from us—the one who is interviewing in SOUTH DAKOTA!!!  What is this, Lord?  Who moves to South Dakota?  What’s there that isn’t here? 

It seems as though the Lord has really been putting us through the paces.  I suppose the situation surrounding the writing of “The Darkest Day of My Life.”  is far enough in the past to now mention it. Back in November, our nightmare started when I was accused of child abuse while subbing in our public elementary school.  Then the family also filed a harassment charge. That all hung over our heads throughout the holidays, but, praise the Lord, the abuse case was concluded as “unfounded” and the harassment, “not guilty.”  However, I’m still not back to work, waiting on a decision from the school district.  It seems as though the saying, “Innocent until proven guilty” is really the opposite: guilty until proven innocent, and then we’re still not sure.  Hopefully, they will soon consider me an asset and not a liability.

Woe is me! Hope deferred.  And what do we do when “the desire” never comes?  We pray, but God doesn’t see fit to answer our prayers according to  OUR plan. Why does He do that?

This is what I’ve found:

  1. God is ALWAYS good,

  2. God is ALWAYS right,

  3. God ALWAYS does what is BEST for me.

Here’s an illustration which may help us to see the situation more clearly: We hear a crash. We see a column of smoke several miles away.  We look as hard as we can, but we can’t see what has happened! But, the man in the helicopter who flies overhead knows exactly what is there.  He sees very clearly, not only the column of smoke, but he sees the crash.  He sees the path of wreckage, possibly even the cause of the accident.  He can even see survivors!

Our view of life is so limited, but we serve a God who sees the whole picture.  He knows the beginning and the end and every step in between.  He even sees my heart and knows the idols that are there.  He is the Great Physician-Surgeon who can take the scalpel of His plan and carve it into my will.  It may hurt A LOT, but I CAN trust in Him!  AND I will choose to trust in Him.  Please know that there is no other way for you to live closely by His side and have peace in your heart, joy in your step, and strength to walk the path when it’s strewn with disappointments and heartaches.  Our God is GOOD!!!!

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 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest (dwell confidently) in hope.Psalm 16:9

 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.Psalm 31:24

 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. Jeremiah 18:12 YIKES!!! Lord, help me not to do this!

This I recall (make to return to my heart) to my mind, therefore have I hope.Lamentations 3:21

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Acts 2:26 Look at the verses surrounding this verse.  They are part of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon:

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 25-28

The Darkest Days of My Life

That’s quite a statement! What would make someone say that?  I can’t share my particular difficulties right now, but I do know that there’s not much else that Satan could throw my way that would be more difficult!

As I walked down our dirt road, my mind was in a whirl and my heart was heavy as I poured out my grief to God. Then these words came to my heart:

‘My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’

When I returned home, I looked up the hymn and found this article:

A Protestant Episcopal Bi­shop of Mi­chi­gan once re­lat­ed the fol­low­ing in­ci­dent to a large au­di­ence in one of the Rev. E. P. Ham­mond’s meet­ings in St. Lou­is. “A young, tal­ent­ed and ten­der-heart­ed ac­tress was pass­ing along the street of a large ci­ty. See­ing a pale, sick girl ly­ing up­on a couch just with­in the half-open door of a beau­ti­ful dwell­ing, she en­tered, with the thought that by her vi­va­ci­ty and plea­sant con­ver­sa­tion she might cheer the young in­va­lid. The sick girl was a de­vot­ed Christ­ian, and her words, her pa­tience, her sub­mis­sion and hea­ven-lit coun­te­nance, so dem­on­strat­ed the spir­it of her re­li­gion that the ac­tress was led to give some ear­nest thought to the claims of Christ­i­an­i­ty, and was tho­rough­ly con­vert­ed, and be­came a true fol­low­er of Christ. She told her fa­ther, the lead­er of the the­a­ter troupe, of her con­ver­sion, and of her de­sire to aban­don the stage, stat­ing that she could not live a con­sis­tent Christ­ian life and fol­low the life of an ac­tress. Her fa­ther was as­ton­ished be­yond mea­sure, and told his daugh­ter that their liv­ing would be lost to them and their bu­si­ness ru­ined, if she per­sist­ed in her re­so­lu­tion. Lov­ing her fa­ther dear­ly, she was shak­en some­what in her pur­pose, and par­tial­ly con­sent­ed to fill the pub­lished en­gage­ment to be met in a few days. She was the star of the troupe, and a gen­er­al fa­vo­rite. Ev­ery prep­a­ra­tion was made for the play in which she was to ap­pear. The ev­en­ing came and the fa­ther re­joiced that he had won back his daugh­ter, and that their liv­ing was not to be lost. The hour ar­rived; a large au­di­ence had as­sem­bled. The cur­tain rose, and the young ac­tress stepped for­ward firm­ly amid the ap­plause of the mul­ti­tude. But an un­wont­ed light beamed from her beau­ti­ful face. Amid the breath­less si­lence of the au­di­ence, she re­peat­ed:

‘My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’

This was all. Through Christ she had con­quered and, leav­ing the au­di­ence in tears, she re­tired from the stage, ne­ver to ap­pear up­on it again. Through her in­flu­ence her fa­ther was con­vert­ed, and through their unit­ed evan­gel­is­tic la­bors ma­ny were led to God.”

http://cyberhymnal.org

What a wonderful story! I went on to sing the rest of the verses, and my thoughts wove their way through the verses:

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
Why would you love ME?
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
So much pain and humility! My problems are NOTHING!
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
Woo Hoo! Where’s my hanky!
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Yes, this life IS worth living!  Yes, EVERY battle is for HIS glory! Yes, every promise IS true. I praise HIS precious name—the only name worth living and dying for.  The only name that can make the darkest day shine brightly!!

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3

The Great Divide

ID-100314857Jesus crucified is the true touchstone revealing what the world is: “The people stood beholding” in stolid indifference; the rulers, who wanted religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins, “reviled”: the brutal amongst them mocked or railed; the conscious sinner prayed; the covetous sat down before the cross and played their sordid games.  The cross is the judgment of this world. (Rev. C. I. Scofield)

I’ve been reading the daily accounts of Jesus’ footsteps this week, following along as He rides triumphantly into the city, cleanses the temple, preaches, prays…  As I think of the disciples, I try to put myself in their place.  They saw so much: Jesus healing; Jesus stopping the Pharisees with his words of wisdom; Jesus, as he raised the dead!  And now this!  All their hopes and dreams are lying trampled in the dirt.  They thought He would usher them right into His kingdom; but instead, He was arrested, brutally beaten and whipped, mocked, and most humiliating of all: crucified like a common thief! 

Yesterday, I stopped to see my mom.  I knocked on the garage door.  No answer.  I looked in the window of the garage and saw her car, so I knew she was home.  I walked to the front door.  No answer.  Now I believe my mom will live to be a hundred (don’t we all!), but that moment, a horrible dread went through me.  Where was Mom!  What would I find when I got inside?  I stopped and thought how everything could change in that moment. Then I walked to the side porch thinking she might be working out back.  That’s when I heard the piano.  What a welcome beautiful sound!

For about thirty-six hours, the disciples experienced that dread of the unknown.  It was over.  What would happen next?  Would they all be arrested for treason against the temple?  What would become of them?  Then, early in the morning of the first day of the week, they heard the news.  Could it be true?  Many still doubted, but then He was there in their midst with those reassuring words:  “Peace be unto you.”  What a welcome beautiful sound!

Some may be indifferent to the greatest story ever told; others will count the revenue they can make on this holiday weekend like those who “sat down before the cross and played their sordid games”; some will gather in their places of worship like the rulers, having “religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins”; some mock us, dear Christian and rail on our beliefs – we take the Bible too literally, they say; but the conscious sinner will pray at the cross and walk away rejoicing that his sins are gone because He is Risen!  Praise the Lord!!!  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!!!

…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20: 29a-31

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Oh, that blessed hope!

ID-100126475Awgh!  What a day!  Said good-bye to Nathan at 8:20; taught four lessons; headed for the high school for the Bible study; visited a family from church; and then taught two more lessons!  I’m bushed!  We had planned to go to a soccer game tonight to support one of our teens, but the schedule is just too full.

Why are we running ourselves ragged?  Do you wonder about life?  We are such a busy folk, so thank YOU for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my thoughts; I hope they are a blessing and an encouragement AND at times a challenge!

We all need encouragement and challenges; and our gracious Lord sprinkles the way with blessings to sweeten the load!  Let me share a ‘sprinkle’ with you:

One of the young men from our church attends BJU where our son, Nathan also attends, and he was coming home this weekend.  I told Nathan about it, but this semester had been chocked full. Working at the WILDS Christian Camp this summer as a counselor was an awesome opportunity, but it didn’t leave him much time to prepare for his senior piano recital (November 16th).  Plus, his choir is going on tour the first week in November, so I put it out of my mind that there was any possibility that he would be able to come.

On Friday, I was pressed for time, and after several delays, I was ready to get going when my husband said I needed to call Nathan.

“Hello, Nathan.”

“Hi, Mom.  Guess what I’m doing?”

“I don’t know.  What are you doing,” I said rather impatiently.

“You have to guess.”

  I could hear that he was in a car.  “”You’re on your way to Wal-Mart.”

“Nope, guess again.”

By then, I was really impatient.  “Well, it sounds like you’re in the car.”

“Guess where I’m going?”

At that moment, I lost it. I couldn’t answer, because my busy mind slammed into neutral as it registered that he was on his way home!   I couldn’t talk for crying.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Ten verses in the Bible refer to the Tree of Life.  Most of us are familiar with the tree in the garden – that takes care of three verses in Genesis.  Proverbs makes four references: the one above, as well as three others, which proclaim that wisdom, righteous and a wholesome tongue are “the tree of life.” Then three verses in Revelation talk about this magnificent tree which will be “in the midst of the street…and on either side of the river…which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  (Rev. 22:2)  Two promises are made to believers concerning this tree: he “that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life” (Rev. 2:7) and “Blessed are they that do his commandements, that they may have right to the tree of life…” (Rev. 22:14)

However, my focus today is on Proverbs 13:12.  My hope was deferred.  I had prayed and hoped that he would come, but the more I talked to him, the more I put that hope completely out of my mind.  BUT, when the desire came, I was truly overwhelmed!  The lesson for me is this: God gave me just a smidgen of a taste of the exceeding great joy and incomprehensible delight that we will experience when we hear His call to come home!  Our hope is sure, but we are certainly not delivered from this “body of death” yet! (Romans 7:24)  The battles seem to get fiercer each day.  Fellow soldiers are falling; some are weary of the battle while others just give in to the enemies many lures.  More and more we are called upon to “dare to stand alone for Christ.”  Oh, to hear the call!  Somehow, just knowing that it WILL come gives us the strength we need to carry on, looking forward to seeing Him face to face and working diligently to hear those coveted words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Are you looking forward to that “blessed hope?” (Titus 2:13)  Keep on keeping on!  And keep looking up!

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13

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God’s Ultimate Creation – Our Ultimate Sacrifice

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What would you name as God’s ultimate creation?  Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness.  If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook!  Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation?  Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?

Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man.  Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)

At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one.  This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident.  Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.

Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico.  After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death.  My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago.  “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.

How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?

Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development.  We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road.  As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack.  From inside, we were called to come in.  A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.

In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed.  The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room.  As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well.  It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding.  As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits.  I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties?  Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:

“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory.  It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)

The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!

Hope Deferred

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverb 13:12

When I got the email that the publication of Twelve Smooth Stones was pushed back to March, I experienced this verse first hand.  It seemed like I had waited forever for the August date and March was not even on my radar!

They had told me at that time that editing would start in late fall, and I anxiously waited to hear from them again, all the time thinking that instead I would receive a “dear John” letter!

Well, the editing has begun – hence the slow-down in blogs!  Sorry about that, but the dead line is just around the corner for the first editing.  How exciting!

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive in this book project.  I must say that I am SO excited.  For so long, it just seemed like a dream, but now it’s a reality.

And isn’t that just how we will feel when we see our Lord in the air?  He will be there – really be there, after centuries of hoping and looking and waiting!  What a glorious day that will be!

Keep looking up!

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The Great Divide

ID-100314857Jesus crucified is the true touchstone revealing what the world is: “The people stood beholding” in stolid indifference; the rulers, who wanted religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins, “reviled”: the brutal amongst them mocked or railed; the conscious sinner prayed; the covetous sat down before the cross and played their sordid games.  The cross is the judgment of this world. (Rev. C. I. Scofield)

I’ve been reading the daily accounts of Jesus’ footsteps this week, following along as He rides triumphantly into the city, cleanses the temple, preaches, prays…  As I think of the disciples, I try to put myself in their place.  They saw so much: Jesus healing; Jesus stopping the Pharisees with his words of wisdom; Jesus, as he raised the dead!  And now this!  All their hopes and dreams are lying trampled in the dirt.  They thought He would usher them right into His kingdom; but instead, He was arrested, brutally beaten and whipped, mocked, and most humiliating of all: crucified like a common thief! 

Yesterday, I stopped to see my mom.  I knocked on the garage door.  No answer.  I looked in the window of the garage and saw her car, so I knew she was home.  I walked to the front door.  No answer.  Now I believe my mom will live to be a hundred (don’t we all!), but that moment, a horrible dread went through me.  Where was Mom!  What would I find when I got inside?  I stopped and thought how everything could change in that moment. Then I walked to the side porch thinking she might be working out back.  That’s when I heard the piano.  What a welcome beautiful sound!

For about thirty-six hours, the disciples experienced that dread of the unknown.  It was over.  What would happen next?  Would they all be arrested for treason against the temple?  What would become of them?  Then, early in the morning of the first day of the week, they heard the news.  Could it be true?  Many still doubted, but then He was there in their midst with those reassuring words:  “Peace be unto you.”  What a welcome beautiful sound!

Some may be indifferent to the greatest story ever told; others will count the revenue they can make on this holiday weekend like those who “sat down before the cross and played their sordid games”; some will gather in their places of worship like the rulers, having “religion, but without a divine Christ crucified for their sins”; some mock us, dear Christian and rail on our beliefs – we take the Bible too literally, they say; but the conscious sinner will pray at the cross and walk away rejoicing that his sins are gone because He is Risen!  Praise the Lord!!!  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!!!

…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20: 29a-31