Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fighting with Hope

My roommates and I have decided to have a "community night" weekly. We eat, and then do a devotion time in an attempt to feed ourselves physically, spiritually and relationally.

One roommate has been teaching us about the Apostolic Prayers, prayers written by the Apostles in the Bible. Today she took us through two prayers found in Romans 15.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves, as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (5-6)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (13)

God's an expert at good timing.

The first one grabbed my attention because of the ugliness of my heart today. Today wasn't such a good day, and there were things I'd rather be doing, but I couldn't do because I had committed to community time. I felt the chains of bitterness and frustration wrapping themselves tightly around my heart. Yes, I had felt this way before, whenever my "community" conflicted with my "freedom." I hate having to choose, and I hate the feeling of obligation I have to my Christian community. And soon the bitterness grows, darkening my heart. Community born from obligation is a deformed community. Only Community born of love can be healthy.

And already I was letting bitterness destroy my pillar of our community.

As my roommate read those words, my bitter heart was pierced. Unity. Encouragement. Endurance. All things I was allowing to be crushed by the chains around my heart. The very chains I was blaming "community" for.

How can I glorify Christ with a heart rejecting the unity, encouragement and endurance of the community He so graciously provided me with?

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the gentle words of rebuke continued to batter at the stubbornness of my self. (Isn't it funny how "gentle" rebuke hurts WAY more than harsh rebuke? Maybe it's just me...)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (13)

Hope. ugh. Have I mentioned how I dislike hope? Hope feels like the ultimate betrayer. Leading me around on a merry chase, just to leave me tired and disappointed.

But my previous post, I was complaining about being cut off at the pass, being attacked and frustrated. Of wanting Life, the fullness of Life, and being lacking.

We had a nice long discussion about Hope tonight. Not sure we got anywhere as a group, but it was helpful for me. Because I finally realized that Hope is what I'm missing. When I'm cut off at the pass. When I'm tired and frustrated. What does any of that matter if I have Hope? Hope offers Joy and Peace.

This is the Life we are talking about!

Life that is not dependent on external circumstances. No matter how awful it is, Hope, Joy and Peace can still overflow. That is the Life I am missing!

Often my hope is selfish and misplaced, and I am let down. Because that is not real Hope.

But my new Hope is to become a woman overflowing with Hope, saturated in Peace and Joy.

How wonderful that sounds.

Well, I'll get to test this out sooner than later, since this week will be a crazy one with lots to do and little time to do it in.

For now, I Hope I can keep Joy and Peace in an uncertain airport next Sunday. :-D


Tracie said...

Sometimes it is the "gentle" rebuke that makes us more aware of what is in our hearts.

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