"Look up: hope in God my soul" What a fitting title for a wonderful chapter. Every week I say how I've marked up the chapter, but this week had to be the most circled, underlined and starred of them all so far. I even wrote things like, "wowie zowie" and "good stuff" here and there.
God is so good, and I feel he has brought me to the world of garden and Christian blogging, which provides for me as I step back from my troubled church. My pleas for people to bear with one another and forgive each other seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and I'm feeling it's time to move on. I have a community here with relationships forming to provide a cushion while I find a new church home and establish new relationships.
I gave notice yesterday to those I needed to let know I was pulling back my responsibilities at church. At first I didn't give a reason, but a woman thought it might be because she had asked me to do more lately, so I explained what I'm doing. At that point, I decided to write a letter to our Pastor, who will be leaving in May, and the elders to let them know I feel it may be time to move on, and I'm looking to see where God will guide me. I wrote a check for the next 3 month's worth of offerings, and gave them my keys to the church and garage. I went into the sanctuary to pray before I left. It was a weird feeling, and I only cried a little.
I got a phone call from a woman this evening asking me to go to the church council meeting tonight, because there was a four minute voters meeting yesterday with no agenda, and now the council has a huge agenda. The drama continues, and I am not going to be a part of it.
I am saying all that here, because today's chapter was such a blessing to me, and spoke of having hope instead of fear or despair no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in. Jennifer wrote, "Rather than giving in to fear or despair, we tell our souls to hope. Hope will always be on your side, cheering you and defending you. Despair always works against you." She said hope is not a feeling, but a choice.
Jennifer used Psalm 42:5 to illustrate her message. It's "Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I again shall praise Him for the help of His presence." NSAB She said it's good to ask our souls questions, that the psalmist recognized there was a cause for his soul to be downcast, that something was amiss. She said our wishes rarely match the way things are. Yet, God does help us with his presence.
I enjoyed Jennifer's analogy of the table, with our emotions, physical wellness, mind, and spiritual nature being the legs. We need each to keep our balance, and not tip and fall into despair. Of course our spiritual "leg" is really the weight bearing leg of our table. "A deep longing resides in each of us that only God can meet. Neglecting this longing doesn't make it go away." When our spiritual life is off, it affects the other areas of our lives.
I'm not sure, but this next quote may be my favorite from the chapter: "The most hopeful people I know are those who place their trust in God. Liberated from the need to always be in control they are able to rest in Him rather than struggle to avoid difficulties in this life." Or maybe it's, "It's not a once and forever choice. It's a choice I make day by day. God is bigger than your problem and bigger than your perception of your problem."
So, as Jennifer advises, I will continue to tell my soul to hope in God, and as she says, I will be infused with strength beyond my circumstance. I have experienced this, as I have felt God's presence throughout this, and even though I have experienced hurt, I am not being defined by it or dwelling on it. I am walking by faith to see where God leads me. In the past, I would have been more emotional about this experience, and I did go through a bit of heart in my stomach yesterday and today, but I'm full of hope in the Lord, and know that He is helping fill my thought closet with good things.
For more thoughts on this chapter, click on the book in the sidebar or go to Lelia's blog, Write From the Heart.