hope in the pieces

I’m really not sure when winter in Indiana is ever going to end. It feels like forever, and this soul is longing for spring, the warmth of the sun and even summertime heat.  I imagine I won’t be saying that in July, but it’s what I desire in the moment. 

However, in the midst of snow day after snow day, puzzles have become a trend with a few friends and myself. I let a friend borrow a puzzle I had purchased but hadn’t yet tried piecing together. It was a beautiful puzzle with the word HOPE displayed on it. I thought it’d be fun for her and then I’d attempt it later, maybe even using it for a craft project in the future. I had dreams for this HOPE puzzle. 

Well, first off she discovered that the length of the puzzle couldn’t fit on an average-sized card table. So she had to make-shift a bigger flat surface on top of the average table.  

Then she began to wonder when the puzzle pieces seemed to fit in more than one place. 
The colors were hard to navigate and even though it began to look like HOPE there was so much missing. 
After many tiring days of attempting the HOPE puzzle she took one last picture and said, I think you better return this puzzle. 

I brought the puzzle home and started to attempt it myself.  Without my permission, my dog wanted to attempt the HOPE puzzle too: as a mid-day snack. So there are a couple puzzle pieces that can’t even be used after she chewed them up. It will probably be turn into some sort of craft someday soon.

watching for HOPE
I had to laugh at this puzzle experience and that the puzzle itself was all about hope. Some days hope can be hard to find. The pieces are all there, but they just don’t fit. God is so big and so awesome and good and mysterious all in the same breath. Yet, why am I still here when there have been many cancer patients I have been praying for who have already left this earthly home leaving behind many loved ones? Why does God allow things to play out the way He does? I simply don’t understand. This life on earth can be so frustrating like that puzzle, you try to look for hope and just when you think you’ve found it, the pieces don’t seem to fit together like a story-book-ending. 

Hope is to desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment. I had dreams and desires that at one time or another I bolted toward confidently that God would show up and fulfill. I dreamt I would forever be a magazine editor at Brio. I dreamt I’d serve the rest of my life in Vienna, Austria building relationships with teens, and telling them about how Jesus changed my life through using my media skills. I dreamt I’d have a husband and family and maybe actually settle someplace rather than living my life in one place usually four to six years at the most. I know these dreams aren’t bad, and I even know that God has placed these dreams on my heart. Quite possibly I may see some of these dreams still come true. And even though some of these dreams only lasted for a short time, maybe God did more than I can even comprehend. 

And yet, even these very good “hopes and dreams” can’t be the hope I’m hanging onto. These pieces of a life are only pieces. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how they even fit together, especially when they aren’t quite carved out the way you imagined them to be.

Here’s a little bit of what the Bible says about HOPE, 
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lordmy whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning. 
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love 
    and with him is full redemption. 
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins” (Psalm 130)
Sometimes hope in the pieces is hard to find. We try to make sense of this earthly life, jamming pieces together like a puzzle and as hard as we try, we always seem to be missing a few, or ones we thought fit there really don’t as the entire picture becomes a little bit clearer. 
But we’re not asked to find hope in the pieces of this life. We are asked to find hope in a Person. Even this psalm suggests a struggle, a need to cry out to God for mercy. Isn’t that how life feels sometimes, we just wanna cry? And yet, the psalmist recognizes that God is God and we are not. It is HE who provided the way through Jesus Christ for us to be forgiven so we can have a relationship with Him, so we can serve Him. 
At the same time the psalmist is crying out for mercy in the middle of his despair, He says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning…” So we wait. We never know how long we will wait. He could come at any moment. Hope could appear like the sneaking beams of red, yellow and orange of a sunrise. But we must wait, like those watchmen on the walls. We must watch for Him. We must live our lives in anticipation of Hope. We must hope in His Word, and know that He is who He says He is, and we are who He says we are. Not hope like wishing upon a star, but Hope, the Person of Hope. Hope who is never-changing, who is unfailing love, who is our comforter when we want to throw the puzzle of life out the window in our frustration. 
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
When I’m afraid to even dream again because of the disappointment it has brought in the past, I need to hand Him my dreams. Hope, He doesn’t disappoint. I need to hold to that. I need to hold onto Him.
the next few weeks
The last few weeks have been some very rich times. Lots of tears, lots of great conversations, lots of digging into the Word. And yet, I hunger for more HOPE. So, I’m taking these next 15 days of February and signing off from social media. If you would like to get a hold of me you can reach me via e-mail. I need some “watchmen on the wall” time. I need to watch for Him and BE with Him and dream with Him and be refreshed in Him. 
I’d love your prayers as I journey. 
health update
My energy level has actually been pretty amazing. I had my second round of baby shots on Monday, and so I’m sort of achy, but I think that will go away soon. My white count is not as high as I’d like it to be, but God knows and He is taking care of me. I’m trusting Him to figure out the mysteries of why my body does what it does. It’s not a mystery to Him. I can’t believe I’m eight months post transplant! Praise God!! 
Thank you for your encouragement, your e-mails checking in on me, Skype calls, cards, and prayers!!! May we press on together in and with and holding to Him who is HOPE. Talk to you again soon, in March!  

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