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H.O.P.E.

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen.  (Hebrews 11:1 VOICE)

What realities remain "unseen" in your life?  There are probably some dreams which come to mind when I first pose that question, but there are those things hidden deep down in your inner being which are just longing to see fulfillment - things you may not readily recognize as there, but which somehow motivate you to try harder, look further, and dig a little deeper. You may not even realize what you are "hoping" for in life, but you have these hopes nonetheless.  The homeless man longs for a hot meal, but I imagine he longs for a safe place to lay his head at night, the luxury of bathing some place where he has privacy, and the freedom to put his things away knowing they will still be there when he "comes home".  The child starting out in school hopes for a nice teacher, kind classmates who won't laugh when he raises his hand to blurt out the wrong answer, and the acceptance of his peers when he wears clothes which don't bear that "super-logo" all the others are wearing this year.  We all have hopes - but not all of them are spoken, nor are they always easy to recognize.

Too many times we allow things to shape our hopes - circumstances beyond our control, things gone awry in our plans, or the sudden onset of something we just never saw coming. Robert Schuller said, "Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future."  God wants to shape our hopes - he alone is capable of giving us the desires of our hearts, so who would be better to help us shape those hopes? The hurts of days gone by are not the things we want shaping the hopes we hold for our days to come. Epicurus gave us a unique view on hope when he reminds us, "Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."  There are times when our hopes border on a little bit of "discontent" - especially when it is coupled with a lack of thankfulness for what we presently possess.  We can spend so much time thinking about what we don't have that we totally miss what we have right in our hands today. 

"Realities unseen" are not "pie-in-the-sky".  They are first of all "realities".  Realities are not always "apparent", but it doesn't make them any less "real".  I don't see oxygen in the air I breathe, but cut off that air and I realize the reality of it all the more!  I don't see gravity, but I know it exists because my feet are firmly planted, I don't fly away into outer space when I attempt to walk around, and my body somehow remains in contact with the surface on which it takes perch.  We don't need to always understand or fully know what is behind what it is we hope for when those hopes are in alignment with the things God desires for our lives. We can trust him to stand behind those hopes as "realities" which just haven't been revealed fully to us as of yet.  I know that I will one day see Jesus face-to-face because scripture declares this to be a reality which awaits all those who have put their trust in him.  I haven't realized this hope yet, but I do have a sense of his presence with me at all times, so I know this "reality" will come to pass as he declares it will.

There are times when we give up hope because it seems to "take too long" for it to become a reality in our lives.  This is dangerous ground for us, my friends.  Hope "deferred" is a hard thing - for our hopes can become a little hard for us to imagine the longer we wait for their fulfillment, can't they?  It is good to bring our hopes to God and ask him to help us weed out those which aren't the best for us to have - such as the hope we will one day win the lottery! I have seen the statistics on that one and I just think the dollar I could spend each week may actually make a nice little nest egg for my vacation fund!  Vacation is more likely a reality for me than winning the lottery (especially since I don't play the lottery).  When we have hopes which are based in a sense of discontent with the present place, person, or privilege we have today, we often find those "hopes" become a little "deviant" from what God wants for our lives.  It isn't bad to desire a bigger house when you have a growing family, but it might just be God has a desire for us to be "satisfied" with what we have been given and make it the best "home" a family can possibly have because his presence and love fills every tiny room in it!

Hope might just be us "Holding Onto Purposeful Expectations".  HOPE.  What holds a purpose in your life is often determined by who or what directs your heart.  Just sayin!

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