This morning I googled “hope,” looking for the perfect image to accompany this post. Instead, I found myriad counterfeit hope-bearers – everything from pictures of stone angels to psychological diagrams to the well-intended “trust yourself” types of inspo statements that are so ubiquitous today, particularly in recovery circles.
Well intended, but not helpful. Not hopeful either.
“If you rest your hope in anything other than Jesus’ return,” my pastor said this Sunday, “you will not have peace.” At the end of the service, he asked those who realized they’ve been hoping in something other than Christ’s return to raise their hands. Mine went up.
Everyone’s should have, I’m thinking. I mean, let’s be real…
That afternoon my 4th grader got a fever. A low-grade, not-sick-enough-to-go-to-the-doctor-but-still-can’t-go-to-school-tomorrow fever, and I felt the walls closing in. Because I had HOPED to have a quiet work day on Monday. Because there was a list of things I had been HOPING to do when the kids finally got back to school after summer break. And now NONE of that was going to happen.
Peeved beyond reason by this unexpected loss of productivity, Mean-Mommy came out in full force. “If you stay home tomorrow, you’re on your own,” I told my daughter coldly. “I’ve got work to do.” She absorbed the assault without flinching. We’ve been here before.
“It’s not your fault,” my husband said to my precious girl, and a pang of regret pierced my heart. But still I felt bitter. Resentful. Frustrated with feeling so out of control of my life and schedule and blessed little checklist.
Frustrated, because I had been HOPING in the wrong thing.
My mind went back to the morning’s message. To my raised hand and my confession of misplaced hope. And the fact that somewhere, in the God-part of Constance Rhodes, is a woman who desires to live for something – Someone – bigger than herself.
And I realized that if I could place my hope in Jesus’ return even a fraction of the time I spend focusing on my daily tasks, I’d be so full of hope and love and peace that people would probably stop me on the street to ask if they could have some of what I’ve got.
Which is exactly the point.
If we want others to be attracted to this God we call LOVE, we can’t afford to put our hope in counterfeits. Otherwise we will become mean-mommies and distant neighbors and the I’m-too-busy-to-be-present-with-you kind of people who perpetuate the very “hope in yourself” pressure-cooker we’re trying to escape in the first place.
Last night I made things right with Sophia, and today is a new day. The ever-present checklist is beside me as I write, but I get to choose whether to serve it, or to let it serve me on whatever path God opens before me.
Today I choose the latter.
I’m hoping in Something greater…
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
– 1 Pet. 1:13 (NIV)