So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name! And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together! And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise! And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15:13)
I want to focus on that last statement this morning because it really connected with me right where I am at right now. God is the one who gives hope where there seems to be little hope, just as he is the one who fills us to overflowing when our peace is vanishing in the midst of chaos and discomfort. I don't want to miss something - God gives 'green hope' - in other words, he gives us seeds of hope and then he nourishes them until they grow into the full growth of hope within us. He gives us seeds of hope because he is desiring to see a harvest of 'full joy', 'peace overflowing', and 'life-giving energy'. God doesn't just give us 'hope' on a silver platter and then send us off filled to overflowing all the time - sometimes he gives us just a glimmer of light, then in time that glimmer begins to become a more constant glow, until one day the entirety of our life is filled with the blazing brightness of his full hope.
I am guilty of asking God to just 'do something' in my life circumstances something - somehow expecting that he will set things that are out of order back into perfect order. How foolish of me to think God would always make 'everything better' at the blink of an eye. What I have observed is this idea of God planting seeds of hope - eventually nurturing that hope within me until I am certain the 'everything better' I had believed possible will not only come to pass, it will be better than I imagined. We are filled up when we allow the seeds to take root - but we first have to embrace the seed. Too many times we see a seed, or a glimmer of hope, and then when it seems to not be growing, we give up on that hope. I have planted seeds to start my summer garden and for weeks it seemed like nothing was happening beneath the surface. As I opened those packages of seeds, I trusted there would be a harvest. When I planted them, I trusted there would be a harvest. When I watered them day after day, I trusted there would be a harvest.
The seeds have broken through the surface and do I have a harvest? Nope....but I still trust! I have hope that what has shown signs of growth will continue to grow, and then mature, and eventually multiply - making a harvest possible. Hope is perhaps a simple word to describe faith - we trust in something outside of our own ability to produce something outside of our own imagining. Faith isn't given in 'silver platter' fashion - it takes some work - the work of trust. We have no faith to endure if we don't trust we will see the end result. We have no faith to share if we don't trust what we have to be the very thing that will set another free. Trust feeds hope - hope feeds trust - the cycle is never ending. We may feel like we are all alone right now - like hope isn't really revealing any great harvest, but don't give up on the seed that has been planted. We may not see the growth, but there was a glimmer of hope when we received that seed and when we saw it planted into the core of our hearts. Now, nurture it - allow it to be nurtured by his hand - and then trust in the harvest. It is coming - I am sure of it. Just sayin!