Hope Deferred, and Deferred, and Deferred…

“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” Eliza Tabor

Where I live, there is a common saying that Spring has not arrived until the snow flattens the daffodils.  Let me tell you, it is as true as it is disappointing.  The lovely, cheerful yellows, oranges, and whites under a blanket of snow is a bittersweet beginning to the end of winter’s long, slow sleep. Winter can seem so long and drear, it is sometimes hard to remember that it lasts only for a time. Winter, however, is only a season, even in the mountains. Everything in nature tells us that nothing lasts forever. Winter eventually turns to spring, every time. The seeds that go into the ground eventually sprout and rise from the soil as young seedlings, already well on their way to become the dreamed-of plants we originally intended to plant in our gardens.

Life, like the natural seasons, has its times of growth, blooming, death, recovery, and most of all, waiting. Sometimes it seems we wait forever, until the day at last arrives when we see the fruit of our labor, tears, prayers, and long, sleepless nights. Our hopes and dreams usually follow a wait, as well as a lot of hard work and planning. We often have to implement a lot of changes and innovations to our old ways of thinking and doing and talking. We make new contacts, buy new things: clothes, tools, buildings, etc.  (Dreams are many and as varied as the people who dream them.) We also often lose weight, start exercising, add rooms on to our homes, build, begin, become.

Days, weeks, and sometimes years pass before we are able to see our dreams come true. Most likely, more time passes than we anticipate. More money is spent than was in our original budget. More work was necessary than our original estimate. Our plans alter as we prioritize and fix our sights on the future and the realization of our hopes and dreams. We do a lot of waiting… “One day”, we think.  “Someday”, we hope. “But when? But how? But how long??” we cry.

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48
Twelve years is a long time to wait, especially when an unpleasant situation continues to take its toll. Scorn, ridicule, shame, and more were this woman’s food for thought for twelve long, and exhausting years. Outcast and broken both physically and financially, she encountered Jesus, and followed in his wake until she was able, perhaps during a pause in his gait, to grab hold of just the smallest part of his clothing. She believed that even a brief encounter could change her life and make her whole. She was at first afraid of what she had done, but hoped on in spite of her boldness and the social impropriety of what she had done. Her shocking presumption to touch a man who was not her husband was met, not with a frown or yet more derision, but with the love of a Savior, whose purpose was to seek and save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
You are probably waiting for something today. You may have been waiting for a really long time. The continued waiting is probably frustrating, wearing, and discouraging to you and the people who wait with you.
Be encouraged. The snow WILL melt. Spring WILL come. One day will eventually be TO-DAY. Your waiting will not last forever.

The Dawn of Hope

Hope being born reflects on someone’s countenance. They are alight, aglow, they have a look of fulsome expectation. Hope is like a child, tiny and hidden, growing safely within its mother’s womb. The mother feels it growing, knows when it kicks, feels the little jumps and tumbles, sees the changes in her body. There is a joy that settles on her that makes her radiant. New life is on its way. Dreams to dream, plans to plan, so much to do before the special arrival. Such a special guest deserves for life to be turned on its end and redone completely. Even the grout around the tub has to be “just so”. Hope lives in the womb of the heart. Sometimes the ache of happiness is so great it makes the tears come, the appetite fail. It’s very much like being madly in love.

For long stretches we wait, and toil, our dreams held captive in our barren daily lives and rituals. We feel like something has died inside of us. Our hope withers, our cheeks no longer bloom. The one day, there is an inkling, a hint, a chance that maybe, possibly, our life will change, our dreams can be realized at last. There is a tiny flame that ignites inside of us, a twinkle, like a smile being born for the first time after much sorrow.

I have known this feeling a precious number of times in my life. Each of my children were like this for me. My husband coming into my life after years of struggling as a single mom was very much the same kind of hope. Love in bloom is a wonder to behold. It makes us young again, gives wings to our hearts and heels, and sets our minds reeling. Hope in bloom is a wonder of a similar kind. We can dare to dream, outrageously, ostentatiously, and sometimes obnoxiously. As anyone who has has the experience of being around two sweethearts during their courtship will testify, it can be frankly noisome for those who aren’t included in the mad, infatuating rush.

Thankfully, the kind of hope I’m talking about is open to anyone with breath in their body. God has giddy plans for each one of us. He knows the number of hairs on our heads,  the unique personality, the songs our hearts sing. Even when the blaring, glaring life with its thorns and razors and cuffs around the ears have all but silenced our hearts’ song, He knows it by heart and is singing it to us all the while. Everyday of our lives, He sings over us this song born in His heart and planted in ours.

This song speaks of Salvation, certainly; but it also speaks of a Lover taking the hands of His bride to lead her to the dance floor. He sings all day long, in the caress of rain on the windowpane and down our cheeks, if we venture out. His notes can be seen in the flock of birds that rise before us as we walk along, and heard in the sigh of the sunset as the sky blushes over us in the evening. Tiny discrete bouquets of flowers around a bend in the road, carpets of riotous color across entire hillsides, shape-shifting clouds that flirt with our imaginations as they fly overhead, the roar of waterfalls, the chitter of birds; all of these are merely notes in His unending love song. From the day we are born until the day we breathe our last, the notes reverberate; and He waits.

I always imagined that Heaven was like an immense choir, orchestra, and band all combined. Everyone there has a specific, individual part, and it all worked in harmony. Finally, here we get the chance to sing His song back to Him, and the words are the stories of our lives and the great and amazing things He has done in us and through us and to us and for us. He loves us all, yes, but He loves EACH one of us, separately and completely. He waits for us because of this mad exuberant love He has for each and every one of us. He longs for us to join the dance.

So the question I have for you today is this: What is the song of your heart? Can you even remember its notes? Do you recall its rhythm? Does your body sway softly, now and then, when you hear the notes playing faintly? What sets you on fire because you know, without a doubt, that this song is yours and your alone? He is waiting for you to join in His dance. How long will you make Him wait?

My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves  is heard in our land.The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Song of Songs 2:10-14