During winter, at 3pm in the afternoon, darkness descends over my London terrace house. At 7:30am the next morning, the neighborhood is a dark silhouette of trees and buildings transforming into a charcoal drawing. But the birds resting on inky branches sing as if it’s spring, as if God is coloring in between the lines, making everything beautifully hopeful again.
Hope is rooted in what you hear because the evidence of Hope cannot always be seen.
“What if too much happens, for too long? All you love is gone and pain is never ending. 15 years. Hope in this world is gone. Just waiting to die,” she writes in response to this post on Instagram. And when I read it from my phone in the dark, my heart feels the darkness of being bereft of hope. As I type a response, the bird choir carries on outside my bedroom window.
Too much for too long. It was the song of the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food. (Numbers 21:5) It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:12)
Today, perhaps their lament would sound something like this: Why have you brought us this far to die in the wilderness of political turmoil, Brexit, terrorism, poverty, racism, sexism, and social injustice. There is nothing that fills my appetite for comfort, security, and belonging. There is not enough water, food, entertainment, or sex to satiate my dissatisfaction, disappointment, and disassociation. Perhaps it would be better to live in the certainty of the prisons I create for myself than to live in the uncertainty of exile, not knowing what will happen to me next.
Uncertainty can make you feel bereft of hope, blind to the certainty of Hope standing right in front of you.
The Spiritual Practice of Remembering
Remember. It’s the melody of the bird choir, the declaration of Moses, and the commandment of God; a way of being a preservationist of Hope in the New Year.
Remember to “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:26-27
Remember: “Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” Deut. 4: 33-35
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8
Before making New Year’s resolutions, let’s be resolute about remembering.
Remember to listen to the birds; listen to the silence before allowing worry to penetrate your peace.
Remember how God has provided for you in the past.
Remember the Sabbath so Peace will reign over your busy life.
Why You Can’t Quit When It’s Too Much for Too Long
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Psalm 146:1-10
Did you get that? We can hope beyond our right now circumstances into the future of the New Year because:
God is faithful eternally. That means forever.
Sets you free.
Gives perspective when you are blind.
And comfort when you are bereaved.
He watches over you when you feel vulnerable and alone.
And disrupts the plans of those who have evil intent.
This is the best news, but we are often prone toward forgetfulness after the celebration of Hope is packed in boxes and returned to the attic. And why listening to discern the voice of God is our superpower.
What are you hungry for that an appetite for more of God will fill?
What uncertainty do you need to be set free from to rest in the certainty of Hope?
What are you blind to that being in God’s presence might provide openings of new perspective?
What heaviness is weighing you down that surrender to rest will release you to stand free and tall?
What grief haunts your soul that Hope cannot transform into peaceful repose?
If You Want Something More in 2020
“I’m praying for renewed hope in your life,” writes a stranger to a bereft soul crying out on Instagram. And another voice chimes in on the thread, “Oh please hang on. And keep seeking God. He is closer than you think, and he loves you so much.”
And my prayer for her is my prayer for you as we begin the new year. May hope flame and not burn out. When hope for what we long for is deferred it makes the heart sick. And Hope is a Person, not deferred, but always present with you in the pain. May the seeming silence you are sitting in now be revealed palpably in the voice of Love ringing out. You are not alone and there is life yet to live.
While the world has advanced technologically and society is better connected, in fact most people feel more lonely, busy, and disconnected than ever before. Hustle and hurry are an attempt to fit into cultural norms for success while Sabbath is an invitation from God to pause, slow down, and remember this: you belong and are known by the Creator.
That’s why beginning in January, we are launching Sabbath Society Circles in neighborhoods around the globe.
What is a Sabbath Society Circle? Learn more here. Want to lead a Sabbath Society Circle? Let’s begin a conversation here. Because more than anything right now, we need people who will be brave hope by opening hearts and homes to people crying out for belonging. Let’s be people rooted in rest and remembering hope for those who are alone and drowning in forgetfulness.
I don’t know about you, but more than a check list of goals, I need to hear the still small voice of Love ringing out in our noisy world. More than aspirations of fame, financial success, and framing life through cultural portholes, we need to discern the aspirations of Jesus for the time he gives us in 2020.
One Small Step to Become a Preservationist of Hope
As Sabbath Society Circles form in neighborhoods and villages, in tandem, I am launching a new series for the online Sabbath Society community called Sabbath Roots, using the book I wrote by the same name. Beginning Friday, January 10, a new epistle from me will slide quietly into your inbox at 6am EST, launching the series. Every Friday thereafter, you will receive an expansion of the content we are individually and corporately meditating, reflecting, and contemplating upon from Sabbath Roots.
How do you join in on the fun? Purchase Sabbath Roots here. Focus on one reflection per week. Use the white space in the book for jotting down answers to soul stirring questions. Write down what comes to mind during intimate conversations with your friend Jesus. Subscribe to the Sabbath Society here. Join a Sabbath Society Circle and share in community what God is stirring in your heart.
And if you are looking for clarity about purpose, longing to discover purpose in a current transition, or seeking practical help for making rest a priority in 2020, listening alongside is my sweet spot. Find out more about coaching with me here.
Together, let’s remember God’s heart for us since the beginning and begin the New Year resting in His faithfulness. And perhaps when we finish in March, you will echo the response of my new friend on Instagram, “Thank you. I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ. . .. I’m not forgotten.”
I first heard the term “preservationist of Hope” from the lovely Joy Prouty.