Learning to Abound in Hope

     The chatter of more than a hundred women filled the air as we gathered for our annual retreat. Tables aglow with candles burning through hurricane holders bedecked in raspberry and black ribbons set a soft reflective mood as we meandered to our seats.
     We came expecting God to touch our lives, transform our hearts, and heal our hurts. We desired to grow closer to Him We left anointed and brimming over with new found hope and joy.
     Our remarkable guest speaker, Tricia Christianson, divided the days' Scripture into parts so that we could examine our response to different parts.

     "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

     First she asked us, "Who is God to you?" He is King and Lord. Majestic. Wonderful. Powerful (Psalm 145:1, 5, 6. The Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 146:6). A few of God's characteristics which she mentioned reverently and with pause for reflection. Which descriptions of God rise up in your heart as you are drawn to worship Him, our Awesome God?
     Tricia noted that Jesus came to be the King of our hearts. But she added this heart-pricking comment,

"A King's kingdom is only as big as the submission of His subjects. Are you holding back part of your hear from God?" she inquired.

     I know there are areas within my heart where I still want to maintain control. Situations I try to maneuver and manipulate, hoping to conform them to my plans because I'm positive my plans are for the best. Areas are still not surrendered. Self control flatlines at times and in predictable patterns. I'm clutching my desires while reaching out to grasp God's hand in trust. The stretch will not join but tear apart. I can grip only one and truly survive.

     Hope. It's the word God gave me for this year so I eagerly anticipated this retreat and Tricia's wisdom on this word. Hope is that "confident, joyful expectation and anticipation" that wells up within us, she said. "And hope has to be rooted in Christ."  In Christ alone. 

     Hope and joy are intertwined. With expectation resting in Christ, there is joyful anticipation. We have a purpose. Something to look forward to. Something, Someone who motivates us closer to the fulfillment of our heart's deepest longings.

     As the speaker continued on highlighting particular words, one thought grabbed at my heart. While speaking of peace--the peace that passes understanding (Phillipians 4:7), Tricia noted that we only know this kind of peace when we are in situations where we can't see God's hand moving. For me, that's exactly the hardest time for me to have peace. Her words are inscribed on my heart:

     "I can't see your hand (Lord) but I trust Your heart,"

     He is there even when I can't comprehend it. He has shown me His faithfulness before. He has stretched out His compassionate and caring hand. He has touched my life, answered prayers, been my shelter while I waited for Hope to blossom and Faith to be seen.

     So, can I trust Him when I can rely only on Who He Is? On Who His Word says He is? On His everlasting love for me? On His work to save me?

     Will I find Him as the source of my Joy when there is no joy in my circumstances? Will I rejoice, not in the circumstances but in His heart for me?

     I can Abound in Hope. Live above my circumstances. Thrive. Wait for Jesus to come. 
     If I will put my trust in His Heart. This will be my journey.

     Will you join me in learning to Abound in Hope? Have you found the heart of God when you could not see His hand? I would love to hear from you.

From My Heart to Yours,

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