“Are you trying to PROVE there is hope or ACCEPT there is hope?” Was the question I heard as I was walking one morning this week. BIG difference in the amount of energy required/involved. I think from all the wrestling and unsettledness of my dreams, I’ve been trying to PROVE there is hope.
There is a facet of my life right now where I am “at the edge of all the light I know”. What lies before me is the world from a point of view that is new to me and as a result it is challenging me at my core. Do I have enough hope that life can be different from what past experiences have taught me to step off into the darkness of the unknown where faith is knowing one of two things will happen? There will be something on which to stand or I will be taught how to fly (paraphrased from Barbara Winter).
This is not the first time I have stood at the edge of this precipice. I’ve been here twice before. It is agonizing to get this point in your life. I don’t want to mislead you that because I am capsulizing this for you into a post that it was not a scary, painful, gut-wrenching journey to the edge. However, when I recognized where I was, once again, I remembered both previous times when I had chosen to step off into the darkness, my Heavenly Father was faithful.
The first time was when my “flying lessons” started and have continued for the past 16 years. The second time was during the final two week’s of my Mom’s life and the grief that followed. That time I learned about the gift of having something on which to stand. Not quite as sexy as flying …. but oh what a gift. The best way I can share that gift with you is to invite you into my personal journal from February 2011:
I heard You ask me … when the answer does not look the way you want, does that mean I have not heard or answered? Immediately, I thought of Mom. It’s all connected. This place I’m in I’ve never been in before – I’ve stepped off from that place of all I know just before Mom died and I’m still out there in the darkness of the unknown hoping to learn to fly. I hear within, I don’t just want something to stand on … I want to soar with You. Standing feels like “enduring” to me. Hmmmm – endurance produces a fruit, I know… I need to check but I think it produces character to be able to always hope in You regardless of circumstance. Oh my, forgive me Father for rejecting Your gift of having something to stand on/being able to stand in this unknown place I’m in. In this moment I choose to receive Your gift of having something to stand on. I see the picture from the Indiana Jones movie when he steps out into the chasm and once he steps he’s standing on a bridge he could not see until he stepped on to it. Having something to stand on, does not mean this is as good as it gets and I will never learn to fly. No – it’s a bridge to the next place You have for me. Huh, I want to fly so I can leave this place and be free of it. It never occurred to me that standing is as much of an accomplishment as flying and it is just as important and draws me closer to You as much as flying, soaring does. Wow!
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade – 1989
In re-reading this just now the two sections I underlined jumped out at me … I would not be writing this blog had it not been for those two prior “edge” experiences.
Back to my Heavenly Father’s original question “Are you trying to PROVE there is hope or ACCEPT there is hope?”.
The honest answer is that although I had made the choice to step off into the darkness of the unknown this third time – I have been wearing myself out trying to prove there is hope.
What does that look like?
My instant reaction to the revelations of truth was “oh this is something else I need to do; another way I need to behave”. I had taken on myself the burden of making my hope real through my own soul’s power. Trying to be enough, do enough believe enough to make it real. Silly thing to do when hope (Rom 5:3-5) already exists and God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2).
As I type this Matt 11:28 comes to mind “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.” Now that is what accepting hope looks like. Much better choice!
Once I made the choice to accept hope rather than spend all my efforts trying to prove it exists, I have been able to find light in the darkness of this as yet unknown chapter of my life. How? By turning aside like Moses did to look at the burning bush.
Is there still quite a bit of the darkness of the unknown in front of me? Yes. But as I have turned aside to look, to listen and as a result to recognize My Heavenly Father’s presence in an unexpected kindness, unsolicited help, surprising affirmation, a new teaching, nature itself — just as promised He has eased, relieved and refreshed my soul. It has allowed me to rest both in the love that sends that hope and the hope itself. It has allowed me to trust the outcome to the Creator of All and not have to tell Him what the outcome needs to look like.
Why would I do that?
Oh maybe because of what my Heavenly Father whispered to me right after I made my choice as I was driving home watching a beautiful sunset: “If I put that much beauty into the sky, what do you think that I put into the hearts of men and women?”
Now there’s a pretty amazing reason to hope, don’t you think?