Friday, July 6, 2012
Birdee Pruitt: Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will... Hope Floats, 1998. Twentieth Century Fox
I never understood that line. For a long time I couldn’t wrap my arms around that concept. Hope was still under the surface in my life. I just didn’t get it; I didn’t know what hope looked like. I watched the movie just to hear Birdee say that phrase.
But God is always far ahead of us. His orchestration is already ripples and ripples beyond what we can ask or imagine. At that time I didn’t see hope floating among all the debris and rubbish. During the year of my forty-first birthday I began to see hope bobbing on the water. Briefly at first. Only glimpses in my peripheral vision. Then the debris began to move and sink and I began to hope.
Hope does not disappoint us—hope floats. When all else falls in the water and the weight sucks it to the bottom, it is hope that floats. Hope, any at all, will rise to the surface and float. It will hover on the top of the water. Because real hope (not hope-wishing) is backed by God.
Hope reminds me that the Father is going to keep remaking and cleansing me until I rise to the top. Even when I keep getting it wrong, when I keep missing the mark, when I really realize I am a mess, when the wrong words leave my mouth, when my attitude is warped, when I fail to listen, when I am reluctant to obey, when I am afraid to speak, when I hesitant to intervene God still pours his love into my heart. That is hope.
He loves me still. Amazing.
When I study Scripture I tend to pull out phrases and words. I dig and mine them attempting to excavate gems or hit a seam of coal. And Romans 5:5 was being made manifest in my life before I even noticed. Now I cling tightly to the seam of its precious truth.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5
God—Notice who is doing the pouring here. God. Not my children, not my husband, not my friends, not my co-workers or my church body. God pours. My God. And he is dependable and faithful.
Poured out—Notice the deep sense of lavishness here, no holding back, no conservation. God isn’t stingy with his love. It isn’t measured out in rational portions. He does not mete or dole out his love with caution because it might run low or be depleted. God doesn’t hesitate; he just pours.
His love—Notice what he pours. Love. Not punishment. Not condemnation. Not wrath. But I fear we have diluted this word love until it is nothing more than a romanticized fairy tale. This is not completely accurate because even in the fairy tales there is the presence of enduring, pure and strong love. Sacrificial love. The undercurrent of our culture’s definition of love is that it allows you to be true to yourself (whatever that is supposed to mean), that it doesn’t have to say it is sorry, that it doesn’t have to go out of its own way, that it doesn’t have to be accountable, that it only has to give until it gets uncomfortable. Listen, this is not God’s love.
Into our hearts—Notice where he is pouring this strong, real love. He pours it out on us, his children. God pours his love into these frail, dirty containers. He pours his love into these hard, stone-like vessels. He pours with a generous hand on the Body of Christ—his people. The ones called by his name and by his purpose. Our hearts become the receptacles for his lavish love. This should compel us to go and do likewise.
By the Holy Spirit—Notice how he does this. Through the Holy Spirit that he gives us. He sends this Spirit to show us truth, to counsel us, to remind us of what the Father has said and to walk beside us. The Spirit doesn’t just visit us; no, he comes to abide in us.
Now, when the debris and rubbish begin to fill my small creek the Spirit reminds me of what God has done in the past. He reminds me that I will see God’s hand move on my behalf. I may not see it immediately or clearly at first, but I will see. And in my peripheral vision a light will begin to bob on the surface of the water.
And I will be reminded that hope floats because of God’s remarkable, indefatigable, limitless love.