Monday, April 10, 2006

Hope...

You know when some part of your life isn't going well... and after a while you find yourself going 'round and 'round in circles in your head trying to find a way for things to get fixed... a "way out"... and you realize that there ISN'T a way out... that somehow you're trapped in a vicious circle that is feeding itself and you're powerless to stop it... know what that's like? I do... I'm there right now. No, my life isn't horrible... most areas of my life are doing really well... but in this one area I'm stuck as can be... and it's starting to affect the other areas of my life that were otherwise doing fine.

So this morning I was going around and around in my head (again) and I started to get depressed about the whole thing, 'till I finally thought, "That's it! I've got to ask for prayer from more people." I say "more" because I've already got people praying regarding this situation... thing is, they're stuck in almost the same situation to some degree or other. I know that sometimes it's good for people in the same situation to pray for each other, but I also think that there's sometimes when it's important to get people "outside" of the situation praying as well.

After I sent my prayer request emails and got to back to work… in this case, on my kid’s homeschooling… God began showing me things in-between the grading papers and such. First He reminded me that my prayer language is for situations just like this… situations when I don’t know the way out… because the Holy Spirit DOES know the way out. So there I sat in the dining room surrounded by paperwork, praying in tongues under my breath, and I found hope rising within me. God reminded me of other times in my life when I had felt this same “I’m-stuck-and-there’s-no-way-out” feeling.

The first time I really felt it was right after we found out I was pregnant with our third child. We were living in a 900 square-foot, two bedroom house with our son and daughter and doing what should have been adequate to prevent a pregnancy that we couldn’t afford… and I got pregnant anyway. We had less than $20 left over after bills every week, and our house was so cramped that there was absolutely no place for another child there.

Now you have to understand that I have a fundamental belief that, since I have placed my life in God’s hands, God is now the one responsible for taking care of me. And not just taking care of me as a prison ward takes care of prisoners… but taking care of me the way a king and perfect father would take care of his first-born son. I mean… He’s the God of the universe! The Ultimate King! And He’s perfect! And He loves me enough to sacrifice His Son because it was the only way that He could have me! Now if you loved someone else’s child so much that you let your own child die because the alternative was to let this other child die… would you want that child to merely exist on starvation rations? Or would you want them live a life that was full of happiness and peace and everything they needed?

I also believe that He has the power to keep bad things from happening to me if those things would harm me (and He knows if it would, of course, since He knows everything). Therefore, if something bad DOES happen to me, God has allowed it for some specific reason, and somehow even that is an expression of His love. Tell me this… what would you do if that child that you saved wanted to eat arsenic… or to play in the road… or to do anything else that would either endanger him or her right then, or set them up for future problems? What if that child wanted to never learn to read and write? Would you allow those things, or would you try to find a way to lovingly discipline that child so that his or her future would be one of promise, rather than of failure and ridicule? God is no different… He just uses the circumstances that He allows into our lives to teach us. I know that many of the rough times that I’ve been through have taught me things that have made me much happier today than I would have been without those lessons.

So in my story, when I got pregnant, the situation looked impossible. But I am a very logical person, and somehow I even manage to apply it to my faith… it went like this…

if: A) God allowed this pregnancy, which we were trying hard to avoid, then He must really want give us this child for a special reason…

so: B) since every gift from God is good, this child is going to be a blessing to us and is something to be thankful for--even more than we normally would have been for a child.

And since: C) God would never send a gift without making all the necessary provisions to take care of it…

then: D) God must have somehow worked out a plan to give us a bigger house and a larger income! Even though we can barely afford to pay for this tiny one and our family of four right now! He’s got it all worked out!

We left the whole finances and house situation in His hands for Him to work out in whatever way He wanted to. And He did it! That year He not only increased my husband’s income by almost 50%, He also gave us a house that was almost twice as big, with a yard that was more than twice as big, in an area that was more than twice as close to everything… and between insurance and mortgages and utilities, this house didn’t cost us any more than the old one did! And now… five years later… it’s worth over three times what we paid for it!

So this morning when I was thinking how impossible this current problem looks, God reminded me of my own story. Then He reminded me of how He has taken care of my marriage… my husband and I believe that marriage is for keeps… we take the “until death parts us” part of our vows seriously. But like all marriages, we hit a very rough spot two or three years ago. I felt so stuck… I couldn’t figure out how in the world we’d ever get out of the misunderstandings and anger and such that was making married life so rough for us. If we were together for life, I wanted it to be happily together! So I went running to God and turned the whole thing over to Him… I told Him that it was His responsibility to fix it… but I knew that I couldn’t really say that unless I was willing to admit that “His way” might be in changing me… I couldn’t say that if I insisted that He had to make my husband change. That’s a rough thing to give up sometimes, you know?

And again… He did it! I honestly don’t even know how… It was a gradual process that likely involved changing both my husband and I, but we were able to celebrate our 10th anniversary last year very happily!

So this morning I realized that my current problem is nothing more than something else that God’s going take care of. He didn’t allow us to get stuck in those other circumstances just to leave us there. He allowed us to get there so He could take care of deeper problems in our lives… so we could see and know His love and power and provision and grace that much more… so we could learn things that would take us to a higher level… a better place… than we ever could before. Why? Because He loves us! He’s not content to let us be content with little things… He knows He can lead us into so much more! He could have let us stay and be semi-happily cramped in that tiny little house… He could have let us maintain a marriage that was merely “good.” But He didn’t… and He never will let us settle for the merely “okay” when He can lead us on to “fantastic!”

That’s all He’s doing now… taking us through this so we can one day step out of it, in His timing, into things that are probably better than we can even imagine at this moment… and letting us once again see how much we need Him and how incredibly awesome He really is! So I’ll keep praying and trusting, and one day I’ll have another incredible testimony to add to my list.

And THAT is what hope really is…

Monday, April 03, 2006

Beginnings...

Why did I choose "Hope Is Calling" for a title? Well... first I tried my name, then I tried my favorite Bible verse (Ephesians 1:17-19), then I tried my favorite song, phrases from the song, phrases that I call myself, bits of misc stuff...and everything was taken! Talk about feeling unoriginal! I even tried a line out of a song that I WROTE and it was taken, too! Of course... every time that it said it was taken, I went to see who had taken it and what they wrote. Some of them had precious little there, others were quite interesting... katiesthoughts.blogspot was extremely interesting to read... another Katie... also a Christian... and a bit like me! :-) Apparantly there are a lot of Christians blogging, judging by the numbers of Christian phrases and such that I tried, which were taken. *smile*

Anyway... so I came back to my favorite verse and what, to me, is the most intriguing part of it... "the hope of His calling." When that verse became my favorite, it was for other parts of the verse, such as "open the eyes of your heart" and "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (BTW... RevelationsOfHim isn't taken on here yet) ... and "riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." But I didn't get the "hope of His calling" part. I couldn't figure out what it meant, exactly. But during the last two years, I have slowly come to think of the hope of God's calling as summing up the fullness and richness and wonder of everything that we receive of God's love when we respond to God's calling in our life. And THAT is precisely what the world needs to see.

So what am I mostly likely to blog about? Probably things that I wish I could share with others... things that I love... things that make a difference in my life... just sharing my heart.

In the meantime, I'll just post the link to my testimony, as written roughly two years ago, which is my website here: www.hopeiscalling.com/makeover. That says a bit about who I am... at least the part of me that's most important.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion