I have memories of my own personal successes and failures. Lots of them. They bubble up in my daily experience and in my nighttime dreams. This morning I awoke mid dream, where I was a young mother who was in a strange city on Christmas Eve, realizing I did not have gifts for my children’s Christmas morning, so I found a pseudo-Toys R Us store that I kept open until midnight as I shopped, with one child on my hip and another toddling under foot. My nephew Joseph was the store clerk, and very amenable despite the late hour, I might add. I’ve been exhausted all day. The memory of that phase of my life, mixed with other odd dreamlike scenes and interchanges made waking up a shock and a relief.
My most solid memories are often infused with messages of a divine nature. I am usually unaware of the spiritual significance until well after the experience. Sometimes, I fear, I never stop long enough to find such messages. Lord, forgive me. Maybe if I paused to reflect and learn, I would not have to be given lessons over and over again.
Our repeated experiences are not always chances for us to own lessons we have not yet learned. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to remember past successes, or past blessings. When blessings recur it is an opportunity to offer thanks for the goodness that weaves like holy threads through the fabric of our lives. Yay for God and His repeated blessings!
I have lately been thinking of my family and their life experiences. I’ve been thinking, in particular, about the faith necessary to take risks, and the value of remembered success as my most treasured humans have moved forward in faith. If confidence is remembered success, then for my family, I have seen evidence of confidence being placed in the hands of their Lord, who happens to also be my Lord, coupled with confidence in themselves and those around them.
My David has run for public office, and won. He has also run and lost. He has been nominated and received appointments, and nominated and not received appointments. Through all of it, fittingly, he has retained the title of Honorable. He is willing to risk for worthy causes.
Our son John left a steady job, where he was successful, to help his friend Travis start an events company called The Color Run. There were no guarantees, and it took a lot of faith and hard work and profound personal investment not only from him but from his wife and children.
Our daughter Sarah started medical school pregnant, and finished medical school pregnant, pushing through an extremely difficult and sometimes oppressive residency program. In her most vulnerable moments she took her little clan to Kansas City for four years. Her husband, Dave, brought the two little ones to the hospital, sometimes at 2 am, waiting in the lobby sometimes for hours because their mamma ached to see her kids. All this for five minutes of interaction.
The night before our Kate left to start an 18 month church mission to Hong Kong, we were both so sick we had to sit up all night with coughing fits. We sat in the same room through the dark night. I remember looking into the shadows over at her on the couch, curled into a down comforter, her tears falling on the pillow propped beside her head. I too wept, thinking of this girl, whose tender heart and natural introversion made it an almost unbelievable prospect to leave the safety of home to travel halfway around the world, preaching a Christian religion to non-believers, and not return home for a year and a half. Right now, ten years later, she stands at the water’s edge, so to speak, asking the Lord to lead her through unknown waters.
And I remember sobbing in the driveway as our Annie and her little family drove off to live in Spokane…this girl who loves home more than life itself. All these people, of my heart and my blood, went forward in faith, not knowing until their feet were wet if they would be successful in the journey.
The prophet Joshua stood at the water’s edge once. Forty years after Moses raised his arms and parted the waters of the Red Sea, allowing the Jews to pass over to freedom. Though they personally walked through a miracle, they soon forgot their God, and were required to wander in the wilderness one full generation, until their children, now grown, stood at the edge of the River Jordan. These waters were not parted exactly as they had been for Moses. But the people remembered the tale, and when Joshua told them to enter the water with their sacred Arc of the Covenant balanced on their shoulders, it was faith that led them forward. The miracle only came after they got their feet wet.
My HOPE this day is to remember that sometimes the waters part before we make our move. But sometimes we need to listen with holy ears, carry the weight of our faith on our weary shoulders, and walk into the waters. Then let us watch the arm of God reveal itself.
During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day. I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity. This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.