Thursday, November 20, 2014

I Don't Want To Grow Up - Beyond Hoping


              This is the fourth post in my 'I Don't Want To Grow Up' series. The other posts are on the topics of not growing up beyond Dreaming, Caring and Playing.

I don't want to be so "grown up" that I no longer hope.

I don't want to stop hoping
Because all I see is the practical side of it
And everything is black or white.

         First, I'd like to say I'm very practical. Ha, and I've been told I'm very practical for as long as I can remember so I don't dispute that claim anymore. (Much. ;)  There's always the days I'm emotional and feel the farthest from practical...*Grins a little* Life. ) It's gotten to the point that when people laugh and comment on that aspect of my personality I just grin and say, "Yeah, I'm very practical."  Yuppidy, that's me - the person who loves to dream, care and play through the ups and downs of life, but still tends to send things through a level-headed filter... eventually. ;)

          But... I've been learning for the zillionth time that there are a lot of things in life that aren't black and white. There isn't always a wrong choice and a right choice. There are several gray inbetweens built on preference, situational circumstances, and other factors. Not everything has a practical answer that clearly draws a pinpoint line on what decisions I should make. Sometimes the pros and cons seem pretty evenly matched and when it's not a moral dilemma... what is the right choice?

           It's hard to be hopeful in the mindset where things are all black or white. It's the mindset creeping in that says there are some situations God won't intervene in, and there are some things that 'just are the way they are'. Hopefulness drains away when we assume some things will never change, and don't look towards the future with trustful expectation of God's grace.

I don't want to stand so solidly in my ways
That all others are wrong
Since I am so right.

           I'm sure you've seen this thought before. It's the sharp thought process that says, 'This works for me, but my fellow Christian sibling doesn't agree. They must not be walking with the Lord as I am.' ... Or, 'How stupid and clueless people must be - don't they see this isn't working?'...

         There isn't a whole lot of flexibility or compassion when we react with mocking words and the intent to shame others. How likely is it you would listen if someone came up to you and started attacking your hardcore beliefs, and did so entirely with an air that they know more than you, and you're just a poor misinformed sap - or worse - you're blackened, hardened, and blind to the destruction you're causing? Would you try to understand and ask questions? Or would you becoming increasingly defensive to their fierce and unforgiving attitude? I think too often we outright condemn and steam-roll people with our belief instead of trying to listen to them.

         On one hand, yes, there are things that are wrong. There are things that are sin, and need to be spoken out against. For example, abortion is wrong - I don't care what anyone says - an unborn child is a child no matter what and is a precious creation of God and we have no right to murder a child. I do believe there are lies from satan we need to be combating with The Truth of the Gospel of Christ. I do believe we need to be an act of change against many of the sins the culture is calling, 'normal'. I do believe we need to be firmly grounded in what we know is right, and be unashamed to be a witness. We are to be light in this world and that means acting different from others and not bowing to the idea that some sins are 'acceptable'. Sin is sin, and the Bible is very clear about it.

          On the other hand... we need to keep in mind people are lost and hurting. There are many times when people need the blatant, hard truth put before their eyes and told to look at the devastation that their choices - their choices of unmarried sex, drug abuse, pornography, abortion, and others - bring into their lives, and the lives of those they care about.  But we also need to show we care about the people in these situations... Those are people who are bound in their sin. But for the grace of God, that could be me. But for the grace of God, that could be you. Confused, unrepentant, angry, hurting, scared, alone, constantly lied to - feeling backed into a corner with no other way out...That could be us, if God hadn't changed our hearts. I pray I never become so "grown up" that I act like I've got it so together that people don't feel they can approach me, or that I push them away with an unforgiving attitude. I won't show others there is hope, if I don't show them the Truth in love and understanding. There is hope - His name is Jesus.

*Keeps having this song run through my head*

           (A lot of this goes back to my post on caring, since that is a topic I feel very strongly about. I could probably write another entire series of blog posts on my thoughts here... but I tried to condense my thoughts down. Thus saying, I know I didn't even come close to comprehensively covering this point. Like, at all. *Keeps adding and finally figures I'll stop rambling for now* )

I don't want to grow out of hoping-
Trusting, watching, believing that God has good things ahead-

             God has good things planned. I believe so. I pray for that. If I died tomorrow or lost someone I care about deeply - if I lost everything like Job did- I know God would have a purpose to it, even if it was darkly painful to understand. He knows what is best. There are things in life that hurt, and there are times of deep grief and sadness. Know what though? We serve a faithful, strong, loving God who never sleeps, and who is concerned with justice. I can have hope because I know God sees so so so much more than I ever do or will about this life. Trusting and hoping is very difficult some days, but I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. I don't want to grow out of believing that God is mighty and stands by me through life, no matter what happens.

The type of hoping that buoys my soul
Into leaping to actions of faith
And grasping God's promises.

             The Bible is full of promises that God has made to His children. Promises that He'll never leave us or forsake us.  Promises that He has loved us with strength enough that He sent Jesus to die for us. Promises that He will return for us and take us to be with Him. The promise that He has not left us here as we wait for His return - we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  The promise that if God is for us, who can be against us?  The Bible tells us there will be hardships, especially as Christians, but we are to entrust our souls to our faithful Creator as we do good.

            God's promises should fill us with great hope because we serve a God who can fulfill those promises. He is so powerful that there is no one greater for Him to swear by, so He swears by Himself. (That thought has fascinated me for awhile...) He has sworn by Himself, and paid for us with His blood - there is nothing greater He can do to show that we belong to Him. Oh what a glorious, hope-filling thing to ponder - God has made us promises and He will never leave us alone.

          Since I have hope in God's promises to me, that should change my outlook on life. Hope is a funny thing - it can drive us to do things we may never well have done otherwise. It may only be a spark, but hope can make all the difference. The difference between taking a chance, and shrinking back. The difference between sickening fear, and quiet trust. The difference between reaching for a dream, or letting it die. The difference between caring for someone, or giving up. The difference between taking time to find joy, or only dwelling on the worst.

         Mmm... Hope... I write that word on my wrist fairly often...thinking about so many, many things in life. It can be hard to remember at times to look around and have hope. Hope isn't just a feeling though. Hope needs to be grounded in the right place, in the right person. Jesus - our Savior, Redeemer, Creator and Friend. He is always with us. We are safe in His arms. He is the reason I can hope.

Psalm 33:20-22

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield

In him our hearts rejoice,

    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

I had this written on my wrist for a few days for Self Harm Awareness day.
There is always hope.

Now my question for you is: How will you remain hopeful?

~Ophelia - Marie