I had a conversation recently that got me thinking. The conversation was about making promises when you have no idea what the outcomes might be.
At issue was the fact that some people have a tendency to err on the side of positive thinking when it comes to promises, and sometimes make them even though they don't really know for sure in that moment whether they'll be able to keep them.
I have to admit, I'm one of those people.
But I never really thought about why I do that. Why is it that I can feel so confident sometimes about making a promise when I can't foresee the outcome at all?
Years ago, my wife and I were sitting in the hot tub outside of our brand new house in Florida on a beautiful night with the sky full of stars. We were about to move to Austin, TX at the time--a move that was full of all kinds of uncertainty.
At some point my wife turned to me and said, "This is going to be hard to beat, buddy."
I looked her in the eye and replied, "It's going to be even better... I promise."
Months later, we were sitting in the (bigger) hot tub at our brand new house in Austin, TX staring up at a beautiful night sky filled with stars. "Remember when I promised you it was going to be better?" I asked Merideth. "Well, here you are."
When I made that initial promise in Florida, I had no clue what was in store for us. But I had confidence that if we were truly called by God to do that move... that eventually it would turn out for the best.
I've had some experience in this, you see. But the path to my confidence hasn't always been an easy one.
You see, there have often been challenges, setbacks, struggles and the like when it has come to my adventures in stumbling after Jesus... but I have come to trust that there will be greater things in store for me on the other side of my struggles.
I have come to believe that the best way to live is to live in hope... no matter what.
And I've had my share of moments of despair, doubt and pain. More than enough, to be fair. Yet, here I am, writing this to you in spite of it all.
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:
Until we walk with despair, and still have hope, we will not know that our hope was not just hope in ourselves, in our own successes, in our power to make a difference, in our image of what perfection should be. We need hope from a much deeper Source. We need a hope larger than ourselves.I've walked with despair--sometimes for long seasons of my life. But there has always been this defiant hope that has lived within me, even when things seemed bleak. It's the kind of hope that is aware of it's origin---even though I am sometimes unaware.
And it helps me make promises in things I believe in---things that are true, good and beautiful. It helps me make promises because I trust in the kind of hope that comes from the deepest Source of all sources--my Creator and Sustainer.
May you discover confidence to hope and to promise today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.