August 30th, 2013

I left a flat in Mulholland.

Depending on the context and setting, the sentence “I left a flat in Mulholland” could mean one of several things.

  • I no longer rent an apartment (flat) in Mulholland.
  • I had a flat tire while driving through Mulholland and left the useless thing along the side of the road.
  • I bought three flats of strawberries. Left one at the farm stand in Mulholland.
  • I lost a shoe—no heel—while running from the Prince of Mulholland when the clock struck midnight.

The meaning of words morph with locale, societal use, and time. I wonder how God feels about the way we’ve watered down one of His favorite words—hope. These things remain—faith, HOPE, and love (I Corinthians 13:13).

When He used it or its equivalent in His Word, it meant so much more than the optimism or longing with which we associate hope today.

“I hope I can get to the bank before it closes.”

“Will I finish in the top ten percent of my class? I hope so.”

“Is the turkey going to be done before the football game starts? Hopefully.”

In contrast to that weak, wispy definition of hope, God used words that portray the hope He gives as a firm, confident, strong expectation. That’s what makes it indestructible when we most need it—when life falls apart.

Like faith, hope sometimes wears a cloak of invisibility. We see no reason to hope. The fever rages on. Our financial picture grows even fuzzier. A wayward child makes yet another bad decision. The unkindness of others escalates despite our prayers.

Hope is by nature invisible. But hope in God is more solid than the ground under our feet, more sure than another dawn, more dependable than the tides.

We’ve diluted the term hopefully. What does it mean to hope fully in God?

If I hope fully in God, I lean on and into the depth of His power, despite how powerless I feel. I hope fully in God when I assume His answers are on their way, assume that He’s working behind the scenes, carefully crafting the right solution to what seems a solutionless dilemma. I hope fully in God when I stand courageously against the temptation to despair because of my confidence in His love for me.

The mind—like water—flows to the path of least resistance. If a path of hope is carved into our lives, then when the flood comes, the mind and heart will flow into that pattern of hope.

The other day I played a peg game with my young grandsons. Mentally challenging, the game required them to figure out what pattern of colored pegs I’d chosen. As I encouraged them toward success on each attempt without giving them the answer, I often said, “Start with what you know for sure.” It wasn’t long before they’d solved the mystery, adding one more layer to what they know for sure each round.

That concept is a holding on place for us when our circumstances seem hopeless. When panic threatens or despair breathes its sickening breath in our faces, expressing those truths we know for sure can link us back to a thread of hope.

  • God has my best interests at heart.
  • His power is more than enough for my need.
  • What I see now is not the end. It’s the middle of my story.
  • No matter how ragged and worn hope looks like from my perspective, from God’s side, it’s indestructible. “This hope…is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being,” Hebrews 6:19 Common English Bible.
  • I don’t hope because I see hints of my answer. I hope because of who God is.

How will I survive the crisis my family was just handed?

Hope. Fully.

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