When I overheard someone say that I had to stop for a moment. That word, the word hope stops me every time.
In fact, when this blog was started it was built on the word hope. At that point in my life, hope was almost all I had.
In fact, I have always been drawn to that word. The word hope.
So when I overheard it, I began to think.
Even yesterday afternoon, I was given an opportunity to go see the movie 2016. Given I am a political junkie, I went. Having just watched a good portion of each political convention and now reading a book entitled The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield I left the movie theater not mad, or angry or passionate about anything. I left the theater sad.
Someone asked me later what I thought of the movie. I told them that I have found myself in a state of not being able to tell any longer who is actually telling the truth, in any given situation.
The desire to find hope in these mighty institutions, those of an aggressive yet compassionate government, a system of election where truth can actually be discerned, of an American church who is working hard to destroy the Gospel as it was intended.
So I said, at lunch, “I used to be so optimistic, but now I find myself a somber, sober man who sees the future not as bright for this nation but looking toward a forthcoming inevitable consequence that may be from God, or may be from decades of bad decisions and a decaying moral code in this nation, but, either way, bad times lie ahead.”
Yet, I woke up this morning, September 10th, on my fifty third birthday, there was a hint of fall in the air, my health is good and my mind, for the most part, is strong.
And…I received the most amazing birthday gift today outside of the really nice cards, cologne (Oceans) by Bath and Body Works, a Barnes and Noble gift card and a box of Graham Crackers and an exceptionally prepared meal by my wife and dinner with family. A perfect day, no less.
Oh yes, that other gift that was found but not given, I took it as mine but it was not a gift.
That is what we do with words at times, especially when the words are from and to someone else.
I love to read period romantic literature to give my mind a break and to soften my at times crusty heart. To believe it or not, keep my heart tender toward God as well as my fellow man.
I stumbled upon a letter from a bride to be, written in the early 1900’s from a collection of letters in a book called Letters From The Heart. The bride to be had taken the hand of a missionary and after their engagement he was was called for a time to a land now known as Kenya and as he was away from her for months due to such a slow mode of travel and communication in those days, she would write letters to give to him upon his return and their reunion.
She wrote of her love and the reason for her love, of her commitment to God, to him and to their future life together but it was the unique way she ended the letter that captured me, captivated both my heart and my attention and that I took as my very own birthday gift.
In spite of their separation and their economic hardships they would surely face after they married, the perils they would encounter and taking on the challenge of ministry in a far away land she ended her letter this way,
“I do not love you because you are a missionary, a leader among men or handsome beyond belief. I love you because of your love for Jesus Christ and how you love me. You are the greatest man I know with the greatest heart. I can not wait to spend my forever with you and grow old with you. I am just not sure a lifetime is long enough. I will love you forever…with everything I have and with everything I am.”
Those few words restored my hope.
And this verse came alive to me at 10:12 p.m. before retiring on my 53rd birthday.
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord.”
Psalm 31: 24
I can not add any words to either the ending of the letter nor to the Holy Word of God that would bring about a greater hope.