On an annual basis I ask God to give me a word / theme. Around Thanksgiving each year I start praying about it and asking Him to show me what He has for me for the next year. It’s much less of a resolution and much more of a focus. And for 2015 it was the word HOPE. Based on the theme running through the year, the word of the year could have easily been “CHANGE”. But you see what He did there? HOPE is less scary than change. And it reminds us that through the unknowns of change there is hope!
Let’s look at hope for a few minutes: I can remember thinking to myself, just a few short years ago, as a friend was excitedly talking about their dreams: What’s the point of dreaming? Aren’t you just setting yourself up for disappointment? I mean, whatever happens happens — right? We just have to be ready to jump on opportunities when they come. RIGHT?!
Let’s set the picture: I liken it to the journey taken by the settlers when they shoved off from the shore of the old country to travel to the glorious land of America.
Ok – I’m being a tad dramatic… but it certainly painted a picture for you, didn’t it?
Join me for a compendium of the journey?
There were plenty of rough waters but there were also moments of stale water: sitting still, except for the slight bobbing up and down. I’m sure there were moments of waiting patiently for the wind to fill the sails and move them forward.
Let’s talk about a leap of faith… the pilgrims getting on those ships! They probably didn’t have enough provisions. They didn’t really know how long the journey was going to take or if they even trusted their leader’s navigation skills. They didn’t know what to expect when they arrived at their destination. And yet… the hope in their hearts was so powerful it pushed them into action.
Their hope was their invitation to dream…
And this somewhat mirrors the journey I’ve been on in the past year:
- Hesitant to dream but wanting more,
- Learning about the benefits of hope, and
- Embracing the growing desire to pursue hope by chasing down dreams.
I had no idea what was about to happen.
Dreams, big life-rockin’ dreams, started to sound attractive. And then opportunities started to fall in my lap and I was eager to pursue. The dreams grew a bit, and they looked even more attractive (and a bit intimidating) … and the dream itself was inspiring me to change how I looked at dreams! The figurative beam of light from the lighthouse, waaaaaayyy out there, was calling for my dream.
Along with the dream came a time of stretching and growing. I’m telling you — some painful, faith-jolting stretching occurred. When and I found myself answering my husband’s questions of concern with “I have no idea. But God does.” and friends’ questions with responses like “This is what walking in faith looks like. I have no idea what’s happening.” and in both instances they would tilt their heads sideways like a perplexed puppy and look at me like I was speaking latin. Bottom line, I knew I was being changed by hope and the possibility of those dreams.
So goes the journey of a dream… up and down, sharp turns to the right or left… and then to be faced with sudden complete stops with no hope of re-starting in sight.
Things happened that were far beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. You see, these opportunities were fragile and they required some additional handling with care. And often times I felt like they were sure taking their sweet ol’ time
::: sigh :::
So let’s take a look at a journey… the ups and downs of the waves as you hope you’re moving in the right direction… seeking out a new horizon.
The dream asked of me more than I thought I was capable of.
And yet here I am on the other side of that uncertainty. I am happy to report that I kept my focus on the beam of light coming from the lighthouse … way out there in the distance. It guided me. It consoled me.
It emboldened me.
If you had told me a year ago that this is what today would look like… I would have laughed heartily, thrown water on you and told you to take a chill pill.
On THIS side of the dream I’m going to ask someone to throw water on me and slap me to make sure this is my new reality… and yet I’m going to rest in the fact that God was truly faithful. On a daily basis I meditated on this promise: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
How did I meditate on it? I kept it in front of me. Very practically. I created a graphic for a computer screensaver. From there it was easy to remember and reiterate to myself on a regular basis… like when I would start to worry about the future.
Confession: I’m a planner. And when you’re waiting on God’s timing and for those dreams to come to fruition it’s hard to plan. Why? for fear that making plans and scheduling things could interfere with one’s dreams. So, the regular volume of planning slowed, and I’m happy to report that INSTEAD the trust increased.
I moved from “We can do this!” to “God’s got this!”
My attitude changed from “full steam ahead” to “one day at a time.”
And with each new step of the dream came a newer understanding of HOPE.
And let me just tell you… hope is contagious! I mean, I’m warning you… if you don’t want hope, don’t be around people who have hope. It’s contagious. You’ll catch it before you know it… and then you might regret it!
I may sound like I’m joking… but I’m serious! As I sought that first sight of light from the lighthouse I prayed with every fiber in my body that I was still on the right course, that I had not gone astray from the path I was called to take… that I would soon see the light, the indication of that new horizon.
SIGNS OF LIFE
So there I was… in a holding pattern, not exactly sure if I was even moving forward or backward, (let alone drifting in the right direction) and like a wayward or disabled ship looking for shore, looking for life, looking for hope… so was I!
Until someone on the ship spots signs of life… then the discouragement turns to shouts of joy!!! You see, when someone on board that wayward ship spies a seagull flying overhead that mean that land isn’t too far off! The journey has not been wasted.
And the hope returns…
THE NEW SHORE
So let me tell you about my cross-atlantic adventure, as it were… a journey to a new shore.
I’ve been working for the same firm since May 1997 (just over 18.5 years now). I’ve taken on many different positions in the company during that time and have moved onward and upward throughout the process. I have worked for and with some amazing people who eventually turned into mentors (and friends)… and I have been afforded the luxury of learning a tremendous amount… both professionally and personally.
My life has been a blessed life because of the many benefits of being employed at this firm, and for such a long period of time.
And then I watched as a rather interesting portrait was being painted in front of me. An exciting opportunity presented itself. Out of the blue. I wasn’t pursuing it. It was clearly pursuing me. Or more aptly put, God was pursuing me and my attention. God was intervening in my life, in my dreams… and injecting me with hope.
Let me restate that, for emphasis: He was giving me dreams. He was filling me with hope.
But then He asked me to wait… OUCH! He showed me the light, he brought signs of life, and then He asked me to continue to wait and trust … and so I did. I was doing my best to be patient, but I was confused… I had no choice, but to wait.
Waiting in hope and focusing on the One who gave us our dreams turned our worry into trusting. And I think that’s the lesson He’s had for us, me and my husband, through the past year. There is power in trusting in spite of fear, in spite of chaos, in spite of all the unknowns. And He wants us to trust Him with our everything. EVERYTHING.
So, together we make a move. A huge move from Southern California to the Willamette Valley of the beautiful state of Oregon. 2015 marks a year of change. Earlier this year we were faced with the opportunity to sell our home (that I purchased in 1999 – my first “house”). We spent a good amount of time praying it over and seeking wise counsel ahead of accepting an offer. We then moved into an apartment for a temporary solution. We were facing some life changing decisions and placed them in His hands and asked Him to direct our paths. A few job opportunities popped up and while nothing is yet set in stone we know that our Heavenly Father knows the answers…
HIS WAYS ARE SOVEREIGN
While the full picture of what the future looks like is not yet crystal clear I am finding it easier to thank my Heavenly Father for holding my hope and heart in His hands. He has gently reminded us about the importance of being good stewards of what we’ve been gifted (talent, time and treasure) as well as the need for a blind faith that we simply cannot explain.
And yet we don’t expect anyone else to understand where we stand. We probably can’t even do it justice in attempting to explain it. And it is terrifying – but laced with hope.
One thing we know: we do not go this journey alone . He goes before us and He prepares the way… and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt WE KNOW, that His ways are best. We don’t know WHY He does things or HOW He does them or WHY He chooses the timing He chooses… but we do know HIS ways are sovereign.
Hope, put to the test, is life-altering! Are you ready for it?