Expectations for how the holidays should be were even more upside down this year because 2020. The usual anticipation we all feel leading up to Christmas has come and gone.
Beyond expectation and anticipation, there is Hope. The very virtue of Hope is living in the present moment with the validation of a close, attentive God covering your life. Listen in for how and why you need to invite God into your hopes and then take notice.
We pray you’ll be encouraged to train your eyes to be aware of the ways God is moving, train your heart to share all your hopes with God and train your mind to release your cares to Him.
It’s hard work.
When you can see the ways God is moving and revealing himself to you; that leads to a life filled with Hope.
His goodness is bigger than this present moment.
Are we willing to release our grip on the specifics of what we’re hoping for?
We hold so tightly to the specific thing, this is what I want for Christmas. This is what I want for the new year. That we can miss the gifts God is giving and the deeper longings that he wants to tend to in us.
Listen: Set time aside to ask God what are my desires for this New Year? What are Your hopes for me in this New Year?
Pay Attention: What does it mean?
Make a list of temporal hopes but then share them with God. (Spending time with God and sharing our hopes allows us to follow them deeper. Ultimately, we’ll find larger, even more powerful hopes in us.)
“Desiring God’s Will: Aligning Our Hearts with the Heart of God (Spiritual Journey)” by Ruth Haley Barton
“The Treasury of David” by Charles Spurgeon
“It is not because we are perfect or highly esteemed among men that we can hope for shelter in the day of evil but because our refuge is the eternal God, and our faith has learned to hide beneath His sheltering wing.”
“It is impossible that any evil should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord. The most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is no ill but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honor, death is his gain. No evil, in the strict sense of the word, can happen to him, for everything is over-ruled for good. Happy is he who is in such a case. He is secure when others are in peril. He lives where others die.”
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
We just experienced Advent and Christmas. And as we talked about before, the holidays, we talked about how admin is a time of waiting time of anticipation. And now we’re kind of turning the corner where we, we definitely still bring a sense of anticipation into the new year. But we’re kind of interested today and exploring a little bit about what is how do we bring those desires those anticipations and waiting from Advent into the new year? What kinds of hopes do we have? What kinds of desires do we have? What hopes and desires does God have for us? So we’re gonna kind of unpack that today.
And I’m glad we are cuz I both because I think we’re gonna, we’ve been in a season, all of us in a place of like, man, where do we hope now what can we hope for? People have been talking about, you know, I’m so glad to be done with 20. I’m looking forward to now in 2020. And other people saying like, yeah, 2021 may not be much better. But the other the other reason I’m glad that we’re talking about this is because I I personally have been, have been being challenged, if I can put it that way. For the last several months, and some of the personal work that I’ve been walking through with paying attention to the reality of how I am, I have a level of being crippled in my own willingness to desire. And because desire. It’s all in that ballpark of Am I willing to hope, my willing to hope and, and I can see in my life, places where I really pull back from hope. Because what if, what if it doesn’t happen? What if things turn out badly? So I’m, I’m here to hear what, where this conversation is going to go?
Yeah, hope is a really interesting thing. You know, it isn’t expectation, we’ve talked about that before. It isn’t like this, this, this and this, it’s more of this deeper sense of hope in God and who he is and what he has. And so as we think about that, you know, let’s think in context of our hope, being a larger thing, not just for this certain thing, or this certain outcome, but more like, and so my spiritual director, who is really a gift to me, asked me, she said, You know, when you think about your life right now, your whole your desire, like, we just went into a time of reflection and silence. And she asked me to just share with her any words that came to me, and I would love to invite people to do that, you know, to have some time with God, where they just sit and say, Lord, what are my desires for this new year? What is my hope for this new year? What what are your hopes and desires for me this year? And because when that aligns, that’s when life gets really exciting as my favorite mentor author booth Barton says, and so, you know, just to when it’s so when I did that, the words that came that I’ve been unpacking ever since we’re peace,
Unknown Speaker 3:20
margin, and love. They kind of came pretty quickly. It didn’t like I didn’t like, evaluate them. I didn’t think well, that’s not a good one, or that’s, you know, I they just kind of came quickly. So that’s probably a good word of encouragement, you know, don’t don’t second guess yourself, just let them come.
So and when you say like, they can quickly and just let them come I, what I’m understanding you saying they’re one check this with you as you trust them, you trusted these really are some deep desires of your heart, not necessarily something rooted in a specific event, like, you know, peace came up. And maybe you were thinking, I really hope this is a you know, peaceful Christmas dinner this year, peaceful, more peaceful in the streets than last year in the United States, whatever. But, but I think I think what you’re saying is, well, whatever happens to those things, those circumstances, those specific events, that when that came up, there was a sense that I whatever comes I want peace, that’s what I’m hoping for.
Yeah. And it’s been a that was the first word and that’s the word I’ve spent the most time trying to understand. It’s been interesting because you can be like, Oh, yeah, peace. Yeah, yeah. want peace? Yeah, peaceful, good. But just sit with peace and to ask God and to imagine, imagine, really imagine what does peace look like in my life?
So you’re saying like, even as you felt those words rise up in you, part of what you’re you’ve been doing with at least with the word peace. Ours is even beginning to pay attention to. What if this word came from my heart? What did my heart mean?
Yeah, exactly. That’s a big part of it. And then the other part of it is, um, how do so if I want this in my life and God wants to send my life, then how do I notice it? How do I pay attention for it? How do I not miss it? So yesterday, we had the fantastic opportunity to go out of the woods in the snow. And I don’t really I’m not really crazy about cold weather. But it was so beautiful the snow and I went out by myself. And it was so beautiful. And I remember looking at the creek and listening to the creek watching the snowfall. And think, thinking to myself, now this, this piece, no. And so it was just a moment where I noticed it. So I think God kind of gave me the word I’ve been trying to incorporate into my own heart, open it up some and then pay attention. So you know, and that’s a different way, isn’t it to approach a new year than we normally might with resolutions, for example?
Yeah, so tie that back into hope for me, because, you know, like, one of things you talked about with, and we didn’t we didn’t do a podcast on this. But, you know, Advent is a season of waiting, of anticipating. And there and it’s pregnant are meant to be pregnant with hope. And so as you’re talking about these four areas for you, peace.
Unknown Speaker 6:48
Josh, you just froze. Shoot,
according, all right, we are recording again.
So kid, I think I just asked you. Let me let me just I’ll try to ask the question again. kit, tie what you’re talking about, with together with hope, that idea of hope, like you had mentioned, just now you mentioned, one aspect of, of what you’re seeking is is is just a sense of, of noticing. Noticing where there’s peace, for example. So, but how does that play into as we think about this virtue of hope? Or the the goodness of hope? How does how did those Connect?
So when I am, my heart is, you know, embracing this idea that, you know, God wants peace for me, I want peace. For me. There’s something in this current time for me where pursuing understanding, having my heart open to peace is going to be important. And so when I was up by the creek, and I’m listening to the water and watching the snow, and I’m feeling this peace, there is hope. Like I am, I am experiencing in that present moment, the reality of peace and the sense of contentment in my heart. Well, if I’m feeling a sense of peace and contentment in my heart, in the present moment, with snow and the water, that’s helpful. That’s helpful. That’s not putting my hope in, you know, when this happens in this situation, or but it’s hoping the present moment and then what God’s doing in my heart. And and that brings a very deep sense of hope that can cover the rest of your life.
Hmm. Yeah, there’s, there’s something in says people study the kind of characteristics and attributes of God, two competing words that I think both come in into this one is God’s eminence, meaning that he’s incredibly near to us and that minute details of our lives, the smallest movements of our heart toward or away from him. The other word is transcendence, that the God is not. He’s not kind of tossed here and there like in our lives like we are, he transcends space and time and, and it can be present to us in all moments. And so this particular moment that may feel so dire, he transcends it and and is working Looking into it, and through it, and from it something beyond what we are just currently experienced, because we’re lost in it, we are, you know, we are in this moment. And so part of what I hear you talking about is is, is cultivating a union with God who is both intimately aware of where we are, emotionally, physically, etc. And also who, who can help us to, to enter into the goodness of his transcendent transcendence, which can include His sovereignty, to work through this difficult time to make that something better and, and to help us to endorse her and carry through it. And, and then also, this is I think, maybe specifically where you’re speaking that even to help us in that moment to to notice and receive the good that is still here that is that his goodness, is bigger than this present moment, there is something even in this present moment. That is, that is good and beautiful. Yeah. And
I had a conversation with someone yesterday, it was such a great conversation about what is what does it mean, what do we mean by divine love? And we, as we continue to talk about it, it was like, you know, so in that moment, feeling that peace, being aware of God’s word to me about peace and taking that in like that was a that was an example of his divine love. You know, like, right, so if we have eyes to see these ways that God is moving and, and revealing Himself to us, like he was showing me, like, this personal I’m here. This is my love. And that’s hopeful.
Hmm, that’s good. Yeah. So, so the, there’s this, this confluence of imminence and transcendence there, I mean, the gods. It’s not just God being near to what we’re experiencing, if we’re suffering, or going through a difficult time, it’s also the nearness of God bringing us you know, he he, he places a little piece of beauty, a little moment of silence a little something for us, in the midst of it. He’s, he’s not just passively observing or kind of, like aware of what we’re experiencing, he is, he is still giving of himself giving his good gifts to us in that moment. You know, and sometimes, go ahead. Obviously, I was thinking about john Eldridge, his past colleague and ministry and good friend, whose name is Craig McConnell, who’s passed away now. Walk through, I’m speaking out of line because I don’t know the man at all. But I was so moved as he was talking about his own battle with cancer, went through a really difficult season of cancer, went into remission, and then came back hard. And in case, at one point, I remember listening in talk about one of the lowest moments that he was in just excruciating pain in the hospital, crying out to God. And he heard the Lord say to him in that moment, as he cried out to him, it was a command and the command was love. And, and so, Bart explained or not Bart Craig explained in that moment that he he, you know, he can’t do much at all. He’s in pain. But he just entered into he began praying for people. Wow. And I just think, you know, that. I mean, that might sound like a diversion from this, but where I see it, in lines we’re talking about is God was in the moment with him in his pain, and inviting him into something very Christ like so even even though Yeah, yeah. Yes. I mean, using even that moment to, to grow him, change him meet him.
And I was struck when you were talking to Josh, I was looking at these four words, again, you were talking and I was thinking, oh, gosh, peace, quiet margin love. If we, if we’re too busy. If we’re too distracted, we don’t have peace, or quiet or margin. We’re not going to experience His love. It’s gonna be very hard for us to see all the many ways that he loves us. Like even in that moment with your with the sky, you’re talking about like that was God loving him? Because he knew that the one thing he could could give this man at that moment was if he spoke back to him and he start began to pray for others that that would do something for this man. At the moment. Yeah, yeah. So paying attention to slowing down, quieting down listening and see the hope that God has for us in ways that we would miss otherwise.
The other reality of the other thing i think that i mean buisiness is one piece. I think the other you mentioned this at the beginning. Are we willing to really At least our grip on the specifics of what we’re hoping for. You know, if I’m, for example, I mentioned, you know, maybe you were hoping for a, you know, peaceful Christmas dinner or you know, for there’d be less division in our culture next year, etc, etc. Well, so if that’s you, if you’re listening, you’re thinking cashino, my hope this year is I, I want COVID to end or I want to find a spouse, or I want my marriage to be healed, or I want to stop acting out in the ways of acting out or whatever your list of hopes might be. The other question under that might be, and what’s the deeper hope, what, we have so many temporal hopes, and those are important, I’m not saying to dismiss those. But often, if we will follow those deeper, we’ll find larger, even more powerful hopes in US longings in us that are very important. And, I mean, I, and it’s not, I think there are some times where we hold so tightly to the specific things, this is what I want for Christmas, so to speak, this is what I want for the new year, that we can miss the gifts that God is giving, and the deeper longings that he wants to tend to and us. I’m trying to walk attention there, cuz I’m not trying to dismiss the, the very real hopes we have for everything I just mentioned, a really important thing. So.
But I think it’s, I think you raise a good point that we mistakenly and understandably, look to circumstances or people, you know, to deliver hope. And they, they really can’t, they might deliver a certain moment of it, but God’s the one who wants to deliver this much deeper, more profound hope to us. So that, you know, when circumstances are not what we want, and when people disappoint us because they will.
And, and I feel that here, there’s an opportunity, I think, and I think this is a cultural moment and opportunity for the, for the Church of Christ right now. To really mean there’s so much shaking in our culture. And, and I think the shaking that that is bringing a lot of suffering a lot of difficulty for us. And and I’m not saying it’s not real, it is real. But a lot of it is, is because we have these idols in our lives, these false gods that we are clinging to one of them being comfort, and, and our comfort is disrupted right now. And it hurts. But can we can we release our small sea comforts, and place our hope for comfort in the God of all comfort. And here I think of one of my board members sent me a meditation done by Charles sport Spurgeon on Psalm 91. And there’s this, there’s, it’s beautiful, all things beautiful. But there’s some powerful stuff here that he says, and I want to read it for us, he says, it is not because we are perfect, or highly esteemed among people. He says, Man, I’m gonna, I’ll just read directly. It is not because we are perfect or highly esteemed among men, that we can hope for shelter in the day of evil. But because our refuge is the eternal God, and our faith has learned to hide beneath his sheltering wing. And so it’s not that we as Christians say, you know, we have hope that God’s going to make everything easy for us when things get difficult, but because we’re looking for it, in God Himself, not in the in the temporary things. But then he goes on, and he takes it further and he said, is impossible that any evil should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord, the Most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is no ill, but only good in the mysterious form, losses in rich him. sickness is his medicine. reproach is his honor. Death is his game. No Evil in a strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled, for good, happy as he who is in such a case, he is secure when others are in peril. He lives where others die. I think this is this is the hope that we have in Christ. And I’m telling it to myself as even as I read it like this is the hope that lies beyond the temporary applied lies beyond our our current troubles.
These are very deep things for us to understand and live out and they’re worthy of our yes right pressing in you know, but this is these are very hard, I am such a I love comfort and control in ways I don’t want to but I do and so I’m continually wanting to understand and be released from that. So, these are these are life long journeys, but but but they are really for our good for God’s glory, yeah, for the sake of others, it’s all of that.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think you and I feel this a lot we, you know, when we talk about the deeper things, it can be easy to feel like some people are going to hear it through kind of a Christian cliche, like, you know, just hoping the Lord, we really want to invite you listeners wrestle with these things, wrestle with God over these things. God, you’re supposed to be my hope you’re, you know, Spurgeon says that I can hide beneath your sheltering wing. I’m struggling to know how that makes a difference right now. But keep coming back, keep coming back. And and as much as you can release your grip on the idols and your your specific expectations about how they’re supposed to look and see what God places in your hand. And again, I’m talking to myself, they’re so good. Any last words you’d say about this? As we move into this new year word of a word of hope?
I mean, I just think just to ask God to he knows, he knows that we long for comfort, he knows that we struggle with deep sadnesses and that we have strongholds of control. You know, I just, I’m just feeling bled right now to just confess that and ask him you know, Lord, I know. I don’t want to be deceived. Or, like, I don’t want to ever not understand and be humbled by the fact that I have I struggled with a lot of things. And I never want to miss out either about the incredible power God has in my life. So I just kind of holding both of those things. Acknowledging both those things.
Yeah. Yeah, well, why don’t you close us in a prayer in that fashion? And then we’ll, we’ll see everybody in the new year.
God I do just really pray for Josh and myself and anyone who’s listening that we would we would bring our our struggles and our hopes to you are the tension we find ourselves in with comfort and control and sadness and desire for hope and, and trust in you. Where you are there for us and you are always ready to listen to us to talk to us to be with us. So I pray that in the course of these next few days and weeks, we would sit with you we would listen, we would ask Lord, show me the desires of my heart. Show me where my hope is, helped me understand and help me to reflect deeper with you about what these things mean in my life.Thank you, Jesus.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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