Keep Hope Alive
The other day I was going through some of my old photos on my computer and came across one that was taken when I was first starting out in ministry.
I remembered when it was taken, pretty vividly. I was fresh out of seminary, and about to take on a role in my first church as an ordained minister. I was optimistic, determined, confident, and ready to change the world.
I have to say that I have had more than my fair share of hard moments since the day that photo was taken all those years ago, until this very day. I'm sure that some of you know what I'm talking about even if your context might be different.
When that photo was taken, I didn't have a clue about much of anything and had no idea the kinds of obstacles, challenges, and trials I was about to face. Further, I had no real idea just how much resistance there would be to change in the churches I would go on to serve for the next decade.
I also didn't know just how many mistakes I would make along the way, or how many times my heart would get broken.
I was so filled with hope for the future of the Church and was eager to do everything I could to facilitate the transformation of not only the churches I would serve, but more importantly the very lives of the people who made up those congregations.
While I've had many of my hopes dashed more than once since the day of that photo, I've also managed to cling to some of them in spite of it. And along the way, I've learned some stuff.
Time has a funny way of tempering your hopes if you let it. You learn to calibrate them in order to guard your heart. Or you can get cynical and jaded the more they get dashed.
I've also learned that fear is what often keeps us from hanging on to our hopes and dreams no matter what assails them.
Recently, I read this amazing bit of wisdom from Melody Beattie:
Fear tells you hope is your imagination talking and pitches cynicism as courage. Fear will tell you that the big dream you have will never work and everyone is going to think you're crazy.
As I sit here right now, I have the overwhelming desire to travel through time and share a couple of things with that younger version of me in the photo.
First, I'd tell him to buy Apple stock. A lot of it.
Then I would tell him that his big dream of transforming the Church wasn't big enough and that he should keep dreaming bigger.
I'd tell him that God was going to be present in all of the trials and tribulations that would buffet those dreams of his with hurricane force. In fact, there would be eyes in those storms--spaces of quiet and still small voices where he would hear God's voice speaking hope over him.
I would tell him that as sure as I'm telling you the same thing right this very moment. Because maybe you have let time and fear take their toll on your hopes and your very big dreams.
Don't let them. Keep dreaming. Keep hope alive in you, no matter what. Don't let cynicism take over your heart when your heart longs to hope.
May it be so for you today and every day from this day, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.