A better way to honor change

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:12-14

There is something my youngest pokes fun at me any chance he can for saying-“The ‘p’ in pastor doesn’t stand for ‘perfect.’”He repeats it anytime he recalls some slip of tongue in the car in the past at an inept driver, any transgression deemed unbefitting of someone “called” to lead a flock from the past 10-13 years of his life. “I know. I know. ‘P’ in pastor doesn’t stand for “perfect.”

Why have I had to say this so many times until it’s almost some ridiculous mantra repeated at dinner? Because, yes. I struggled with road rage for a number of years, and my children were witness to it. During those moments, a range of 4 letter words would flow, and my kids reminded me they were not appropriate. But what bothered me most? Even after I was “reformed,” started waving instead when someone flipped me off, and stopped cursing when someone cut me off, was that they just never let me forget it. Hence the need to remind them that the process of sanctification, was a process. Even for pastors.

Paul even reminds the Roman church of this in Chapter 6, in his letter to them, reminding them of where “perfection” comes-through their new life in Christ.

But how many of us are like my children at times? Continuing to bring up the used-to’s? The behaviors before Jesus came in and cleaned up that mess, before we fully surrendered, and handed over all those sinful practices to Him? Are we just not willing to let it go? That person whether pastor or not, may have truly decided not to let sin control them-whether it’s cursing or something else, but we won’t stop bringing up their old desire to do so-so we deny the work of the Spirit in their lives, look past what God has done to move them through a process of change, and fail to celebrate the new life that has been born. They start to believe…well, they will just never be “perfect” enough for you.

There is a better way. Paul also talks about it to another church. The church in Corinth, when he talks about something else we view as perfect by the world’s standards-love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes perfect love-Christian love. He says, this type of love does not keep a record of wrongs (v5). In addition, this “perfect” love, never loses faith and is always hopeful (v7). So, someone loving and celebrating new life, displaying Christian love; would not harp on another’s flaws, but would rejoice in the making new.

Are we walking this better way-with others or even with ourselves? Focused on the making new, in the dead life we were removed from when Jesus called us out of those ways into something better? If we are still holding onto the old, can we let it go, so we can truly help others move forward in the Christ-like “perfection,” and ourselves as well?

Because He certainly did. And He expects us to as well.

Stay strong and keep the faith

I’ve been waitin’ for breakthrough, I’ve been prayin’ for change; I know You’ll work it all for good but how long will it take? I’ve been asking for healing and I’m not gonna lie I’m ready for the miracle, God, let it be this time.

-Stay Strong, Danny Gokey

I was expecting it. The turn of events I had watched unfold for years. My hopeful soul always wished for a different outcome. Prayed for a miracle. A work of His Spirit. And yet, part of me expected hopes to be dashed. 

Because, even though my prayers reached His ears, of that I am certain. They didn’t reach the soul for which I was praying. Change was not taking place. Actions were not moving in a positive, more forward direction. 

Jaded, I guess I was. Praying, though I was…I was still expecting the outcome that came. Yet it didn’t make hearing it any easier. The realization of it any less painful to endure. The heartache less challenging to bear.

I hadn’t gotten my breakthrough. But I wasn’t going to lose faith in His miracles either.

In a conversation as I heard these words: “We will be dead before we ever see it,” I felt that pain. I even wondered if those words rang true, and later that day I heard the words in this song, that echoed that same feeling. But with far less hopelessness.

But if I never see the promise on this side of the grave, My hope might be shaken but my faith will never break; Because I know the day is coming when You’ll right all of the wrong. So I’ll praise You in the waiting and my faith will stay strong

There are many who have come before me that didn’t see their promise before the grave. I wasn’t the only one who held onto promises that were not ever seen in ones’ lifetime.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrews 11:13

Moses. God made a promise that the Israelites would get to the Promised Land. And they did…but Moses wasn’t there to see it. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died with the Promised Land just in sight, allowed to see it, but not to enter it (Deuteronomy 34:4).

David. He was promised that a temple would be built through him, but he had to give the blueprints of that temple to his son, Solomon. A temple he would never see built prior to his death (1 Chronicles 28).

And in the Old Testament, a Messiah is promised to redeem and save many times, and many died before this ever came to pass, but Jesus was sent as promised and became the Savior of the World, just as God said.

I don’t know what burdens God has given you to carry for others. I don’t know what prayers you pray for others for which you are desperately seeking breakthroughs. I do know faith is what allows us to continue to pray. To continue to cry out to Him, even when we don’t see change. Even when we don’t see a miracle. Even when we are afraid we won’t see the fruits of our laborious ramblings to God on this side of eternity. Faith is what gives us hope that He will make good on His promise in ways that we don’t understand, and we possibly may not ever see. That may not affect this generation, but perhaps one that reaches far beyond us.

Hopes may be dashed today. Your expectations may be more like disappointments, but His promises are bigger than any of those. Stay strong. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep the faith.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

I do not own the rights to video, lyrics, or music.

After the storm

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5, NLT

I had started the morning kind of down, and my gratitude list looked like this:

Not the typical list of small, praise-worthy items I listed each morning during my moments of quiet and solitude. Just that first item to start.

It’s not that I wasn’t grateful. I had taken on too much. It’s one of those things I have been learning about myself-that I don’t say “no,” usually due to an effort to keep people in my good graces. Then after I say “yes,” I can find myself frazzled, overbooked, and overwhelmed. I am working on that. The saying “no” thing. Setting boundaries.

But because I hadn’t, and I was in this state of anxiety and unease, I was also consumed by thoughts. Some that were destructive and self-defeating in nature. Had me believing (inappropriately, of course) that beauty is an illusion.

That evening we took our Saturday trek out to dinner, and to grab a few items on the back to school list. On the ride I looked up. In the sky was a rainbow. Filling the entire sky. One in which all the colors shown brightly.

That morning, I could only think of one thing to list. One thing I forced myself to add…one thing the devil had used the previous week to beat me up with (“If you were doing so great, huh?? Your kids would be baptized”)…yes that’s what he does. He’s pretty awful.

And that evening I was given a much needed reminder that God was one who kept promises.

I didn’t snap a picture. I just watched the rainbow as we drove. Watched as the dark storm cloud tried to overtake its brightness, and the tail end of it become brighter. As the storm began anyway, and the rainbow faded, I was reminded of something a dear friend once said: “you are either going into a storm or coming out of one.”

And yes. We are. Whether we are willing to be honest or not.

Whether in our minds, or hearts. Whether we are battling voices of the world, or Satan

Whether the storms rage in our homes, at work, or in our bodies.

We are going to be going into one, at any given time.

And come out of it, too.

We went into two or three storms that night, and each time we were left with a beautiful rainbow.

I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. Genesis 9:13-15

Each time the storm came and the clouds took away the beauty that had adorned the sky, the rain would subside, and another rainbow would appear. We drove further, and another shower would start, the rainbow would fade, and as we sat in the parking lot, eating our meal-we looked over after the last storm and noticed right next to us was the biggest one we had seen that night.

Photo creds goes to the 15 year old in the backseat

Storms come and they go. They are a part of the life we will have here on earth, and some are scary; while some come and go as quickly as they began. Some bring few problems, while others bring many-destruction, chaos, and pain. But through every storm, even if you can’t see it, God is there. Helping you get through it, and waiting on the other side with joy and bright promises for your future. And equipping you to get ready for the next one. Because there will be another. But this time, we know what beauty waits for us after the storm.

Promises of God: He Keeps Them

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors. Deuteronomy 4:31

He stood there, just having got off the school bus. Refusing to come inside the house. He did this frequently, so today was not any different than most. So I did what I usually do, sat on the porch and waited for this to be over.

Until he looked at me and said, “Aren’t we going to get donuts?”

He hadn’t forgotten. And I was really hoping he had forgotten.

“Can we go tomorrow?”

“No! You promised! You promised we would get donuts!” I could see it coming. Only because it used to come every afternoon (not over donuts, just because it was part of the after school sensory overload). A meltdown was brewing in the front yard. In full view of all the neighbors. And this one was all my fault. Because I was breaking a promise.

I did go get those donuts, and I vowed to not break a promise if it was in my power not to ever again. Not because I wanted to avoid a public meltdown. Simply because I wanted to avoid the disappointment that another person may feel. And because I now knew-kids remember promises. Frankly, I believe we all do. And we remember even more those that are broken.

And in those broken promises we build a foundation of mistrust, disappointment, and insecurity. In the world around us and the people in it.

It’s common. It’s a part of our carnal, sin nature. We say things and make promises to get the heat off us for a while. “We will do that tomorrow,” is often code for “Man I just don’t feel like it today, and I likely won’t want to tomorrow either. Maybe they will forget.” They don’t. They ask again. We put it off for another day, and they eventually do stop the asking, which is what we desired. But they also stop trusting. They stop seeking a relationship with us. They stop seeing us as reliable. Safe.

Until we start to wonder if promises were ever meant to be kept at all. Or mere lip service. Never to honored in the first place.

They were. They are meant to be kept. They will be honored.

And they are kept and honored by God. Every promise He makes He delivers. He has in the past and He will again.

He promised Abraham a son, and delivered. He promised to make him a father of many nations, and blessed him with offspring that made up the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

He promised David a descendent that would build a throne for God, which was in fact Solomon; but that would also sit with God. That his lineage would include one who saves. Through the lineage of David, we have Christ.

He promises that for those who believe in Christ, to provide the Holy Spirit, and He is surely alive and active. He promised and did adopt us as His children.

He also established an eternal kingdom for us, one He promises we will inherit one day. Do we believe His words are more than mere lip service? I know I do.

Promises may not mean much to people. They may be mere words spoken in haste, or to put someone off for the time being. But they are a covenant to God.

He WILL do what He has promised. He has before and He will again.

Promises of God: Trust

Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10

According to Psychology Today, the number one reason relationships fail? Trust. Well, lack of trust. I could go into all the reasons for this, but I have a story instead.

When I first learned to swim, it was one summer when I was about 7 or 8. We used to spend summers in Colonial Beach, which is a bit past Fredericksburg, Virginia; on the Northern Neck Peninsula. I remember spending a week on the boardwalk, and also in the deep end of the pool, learning to doggy paddle and swim underwater.

This later transitioned to swimming with reckless abandon in the Potomac with my brother, with countless jellyfish. Until we upgraded to the ocean.

No worries about what dangers lurked underneath. No fear. Trusting our legs would carry us back to the surface, and the waves would not take us under.

But now? Oh, I still enjoy the pool. Because I can see what is under my feet. I enjoy the ocean. The sound. The sun. The feel of the breeze as it blows over the water. But I will NOT be getting in those waters. Because I know what lurks there. My youngest has watched enough Shark Week to keep me from EVER jumping in those waves again. I have got trust issues when it comes to the ocean. Irrational fears of sharks, and other things that may get me and take me out.

I prefer to stay on the sand now. Where it is nice and safe. Because out there in the deep end, where I can’t see what lies ahead? That is scary. Unpredictable. I don’t trust that if I stick my toe in those deep, scary waters that something wont get me, or I won’t sink.

Trust in the unknown is scary now. Why was it so much easier as a kid?

The world had not tainted me. Yet. No one had failed me. Yet. No one had disappointed me or left me. Yet. Broken my trust. Fed me a big fat lie. Taught me that life was dark and scary. That no one was throwing me a life preserver, or could even be trusted. Yet.

I was hopeful. Full of faith. Until I wasn’t. Until I put my hope and faith in people.

It is the people and the world, and the weight of those that have drowned me. That have taken away the reckless abandon I had as a kid. That keep me worried about the darkness that still lurks, or the things that may reach out, bite me, or consume me.

But it is God who tells me He has got me. Nothing is going to overtake me. There is no darkness out in those waters that I should fear. Nothing too murky for Him to see, and even if I can’t see what is underneath my feet-He does.

Yet, we continue to put our hope in people. Things. Institutions. Wealth. These things that tell us who to be. That are all to unpredictable. That won’t catch us if we drown. That convince us we are not good enough, and if we fall, will often leave to pick ourselves back up. Until we are too fearful to jump into the deep end just to see if we can actually swim out there in the unknown.

We are fearful of all the things we can’t even see.

Until we remember who we can truly trust, and where our protection comes from. Who will not leave us drowning. Whose presence will always be with us in the deep end.

I don’t have to fear what lurks ahead. He knows. He knows where my feet will wander, and He won’t let me fall. He knows the waves may get rough. There may be darkness, but His presence is before me and beside me, helping me to stay above the waves, and to see light through it all.

To keep my faith strong when it starts to waver. To trust in Him when people and the world disappoint.

Trust. Even in the unknown. Unpredictable. Scary. Confident that His plans for me are good. In the waves. On the shore, and in the deep end, He won’t let me be taken under. I can keep jumping in as long as I put my trust in Him.

Promises of God: Seek and You Will Find

“If you look for me wholeheartedly you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:13

Yesterday I dived into that often used verse in Jeremiah 29, the one promising a hope and a future. The words in verse 11 are true, but there is so much in the entire chapter that is missed when we simply focus on that one verse. Yes, that 11th verse holds so much peace and hope, but today’s promise is just as powerful. But we often miss it because we don’t read far enough.

It’s true. God delivered His people to become captives in Babylonia, but He did not forget them. They were captives for 70 years, but they were not abandoned. Though it certainly may have felt that way.

Think about it…in times of trial it may be difficult to find God in it. We may wonder if He is even there at all. We may believe He has left us. We may call to Him, hear nothing in response, and believe He is not listening to our cries. In those moments we may even stop crying to Him. We reach out to the world instead. In our desperation we seek answers elsewhere.

And we come up empty.

In times of sorrow and pain, it may appear God has left. It may appear He is distant or that He doesn’t hear our pleas at all, but this isn’t the case.

He hasn’t left. He is still in the midst. We can call on Him knowing He will answer in His time, and confident that though this season may be painful it’s necessary for our growth. For our faith to become stronger. For our relationship with Him to flourish.

Seek Him. He is there. He is listening. You may not get the answer you want. You may not hear Him right away. But you can be assured He hasn’t left you. Seek Him, and you will find Him.

Promises of God: A Hopeful Future

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have a bit of a bone to pick with today’s verse. When I hear it spoken at weddings, baby showers, or plastered on graduation cards and gifts, I cringe a little on the inside.

Perhaps a story will help you understand. A little journey through faith.

I received the same verse from Jeremiah on a graduation gift I received upon completing graduate school. It sits on my desk at church, filled with paper clips. When I graduated I had hopes and excitement for the journey ahead like most graduates. I looked at that voice with only thoughts of success and prosperity in my future. Not of the true journey in the years to come.

I loved my job, but the first two years were painful. So much so that that verse in Jeremiah had been abandoned, and Exodus 14:13-14 took its place: But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” A far cry from that one listed on that gift.

I was delivered from these Egyptians to be taken on an even longer journey that would last a couple more years.

God knows I don’t like change. God knows I like to have a semblance of control in my life. I am not at all spontaneous. I am not a “Hey, let’s do this today” person. I do NOT like surprises. But it is the life-changing surprises that were a part of this journey for the past 2-3 years.

It started with my husband’s racing heartbeat and palpitations. He had mentioned it to me in September 2019, making an appointment to see a doctor. Having tests completed. Monitoring his rhythm for several weeks. Until one night, he ended up in the emergency room with a rhythm so high he shouldn’t have been alive.

We sat in the hospital room hearing things like “Vtach, pacemaker, to keep his heart beating, cardiac arrest.” I sat realizing he could die. These doctors had just told me, that if we didn’t do surgery, next time he could die. This was my first lesson in that hope for a future verse. Would I trust in this future when men and women were working on his body just to keep him living? Would I trust the one who gave these men and women this gift, and know He is in charge of the outcome?

Fear of the future was not going to change my circumstances. We were still here. This was still happening. And the other side of this would be good. It always had been.

The reality was this: The events prior to this stay had begun with a night that was painful and chaotic. It began in the midst of one of our ministry endeavors, that in turn set in motion a chain of misery and defeat. A chain of uncertainty that crushed vision, crushed purpose, and left me in my own form of exile for quite some time.

I poured myself into my work, because ministry was too hard, only to be furloughed for several months in 2020. And so began the cycle of more heartbreak. I loved my job. I missed my students. I had so many emotions, and no where for them to go. Here I was quarantined at home with people who had their own confusing emotions.

When I did go back to work, nothing was the same. Video screens were not the connections I so desired, and I absolutely hated it. But because my attempts to do ministry continued to fail, I continued to pour myself into the only thing I felt I could do “right.”

It was the denial of my moving forward to ordination that sent me over the edge. That sent me further into my own personal exile. I wanted to quit ministry altogether, because if I didn’t have all the knowledge I “should” have, what was the point? I spent the better portion of three months in darkness and at all out war with God. Cutting everything and even people off so I could work through the despair, and crawl back.

I did. And I know I am stronger and more resilient. More faithful because of it.

So, why did I share all that? Because…yes. God does promise a hope and a future, and this verse can provide a large amount of peace. But the reality is, God said these words through Jeremiah right before he sent them into a 70 year exile period. A period in which they were enslaved to evil and horrifying rulers.

This verse is a verse of hope. A promise from God to protect us, and provide us everything we need. But He isn’t promising that we won’t suffer. In the world we will have suffering. In our walks as Christians we will face many trials. We will have pain. Heartache. Loss. Hurt. God does not promise that we won’t endure those things-but He does promise that He will be with us through it all. He will not leave us in our defeat. Once the trial and suffering are endured, there is a future waiting just for us that He has ordained.

Our hope and our future. It may come after we suffer a great deal. But it will come. God promises it will come.

Ain’t No Mountain

For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:10

I love music. It has been the permeating sound of my life for many years. Even as a kid. Riding in the backseat of my parents car, I remember listening to what I referred to back then as the “oldies.” Motown classics. Old school crooners like Frankie Valli, and girl gangs such as The Shangri-Las. Rides in my dad’s truck consisted of tape decks filled with The Pointer Sisters, and Huey Lewis and the News. I remember kitchen dance parties with Elvis and my mom. Music was my jam, and I loved all of it.

There is one song that gets me going still today. You probably know it. It’s a duet between Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It has even been used in movies when the characters are sharing their pledge to stand with each other-no matter what:

If you need me, call me,
No matter where you are
No matter how far,
Don’t worry, baby
Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby, there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough,
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you, baby

Yes. You probably have heard it. But what does it have to do with God?

If you read through the last half of the book of Isaiah, you will read beautiful lines written of the coming of the blessings God would bestow on the people, and of a coming Messiah who would bring salvation and peace. He also tells of what is to come. Like the mountains and hills he had to make disappear before any of this could happen.

Like the Israelites heavy reliance and trust in things other than God. The Israelites believed in false prophets who didn’t offer God’s truth. They had a false sense of security. A security in man and his ways and power. They placed trust in their earthly kings. Kings God eventually removed. Kings who were defeated and taken over by those more terrifying and evil than anything their prophets could have predicted, who left them confused, unsafe, insecure, and feeling far from God.

We have some strongholds, too. Mountains and hills we place our faith in. Pledge allegiance to that can crumble in any season. Our jobs. Our varied affiliations. Our wealth. Our possessions. We find safety and security in these things, but what happens when they are gone?

What is left?

My faithful love for you will remain, my covenant of blessing will never be broken. Isaiah 54:10

Or…Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

He is left. God. Hopefully He doesn’t have to send you into exile just to prove your security is truly in Him alone for you to cling to Him; but He will do what it takes-scale all these mountains and hills to show you His love is what remains when everything else is gone.

His love is the mountain to cling to; the hill that won’t disappear. There is no mountain too high, and no valley too low for God to get to us. And it doesn’t fade away like those other things. Don’t wait until all those things are gone and your in exile to receive it right now-and every day thereafter.

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Everything Happens For a Reason

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

“Everything happens for a reason.”

That phrase at times irritates me. Maybe because it seems to be thrown out as a response to people who are struggling through something hard, or asking that “why” question. We say this with the best of intentions, but perhaps we are really uncomfortable with all the unknowns of the current situation ourselves.

I’ve often been irritated by that standard phrase because I have asked my own “why’s” over the years.

Why was this person placed in my life? Why was I called to this, only to not complete it? Why is this journey taking as long as it is? Why did some people leave without warning? Why?

Most of those “why’s” have no answers. I may never know the answer on this side of eternity, which makes that “everything happens for a reason” phrase so difficult to stomach at times.

But it’s true. Everything does happen for a reason. One that’s outlined in what has become another one of my favorite verses-it’s all according to what God has planned.

Some things happen so others can grow closer to Him. Others so we can. Some things happen because we veer off course, and God has to get us back on track. Other so He can grow our faith. Some things happen and unfold in the ways they do because it simply wasn’t time, or He has something else for us. Others because of our fallen nature.

Everything happens for a divine purpose. Everything can be used by God for his glory. For His purpose. To show others His love, sovereignty, and power.

The good things, and even those intended to harm us; He is working everything out for our good.

Let There Be Light: Hope in the Darkness

Advent.

I’ll be real with you. I didn’t grow up in church, attending services all through the Christmas season as a kid. So as an adult, when I began attending in my late 20’s, advent appeared ritualistic in nature to me. Hear me out…I understand the meaning of Christmas. But the lighting of all the candles, the Scriptures read? I never understood their purpose or place in the whole celebration. I guess it was expected that I should. However, I didn’t know what these practices and rituals had to do with Christ and his birth. Even more confusing, was what I was supposed to do with the candle-lighting, and those verses. How did they apply?

As I dive deeper into His Word, searching it daily for where He is leading me-I discovered something as I started to read the “ritual” advent devotionals. I discovered that just like Thanksgiving, advent isn’t just a season, it’s a way of life.

The whole reason we focus on advent this time of year is, yes, to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but more importantly to remember and reflect on what that means to us, for us today, and how we are to respond.

Essentially, the word “advent” means “coming.” Sure. It is a season of remembrance for the day Christ came into the world, to reflect on how he lives in the world today, and a reminder to be living in expectation of his return. His second coming.

But shouldn’t we live in this expectancy every day? He could come back at ANY time. Certainly we should live daily as if we are ready.

The first candle lit traditionally on the advent wreath is the candle of hope. Hope in a Messiah who will save from sins. Hope in His return. It’s also known as the “prophecy candle,” the hope that God will fulfill His promises. A promise that there is light and hope in darkness.

Yet, even during Christmas evil doesn’t rest. It may even seem that during the long, cold days of winter that stretch on and on, things become darker. Add the holiday season, its feelings of loneliness and sorrow that can come along, and light can be hard to see. Greed abounds due to the hustle and bustle to shop, shop, shop; and statistically even crime often soars, as the desperate attempt to meet the demands of the secular “season” become too much for some to bear.

If there is anything we need now more than ever, especially as we continue to fight a virus we hoped would be gone by now-it is light. Hope. The hope that in all this darkness and despair, a light would appear.

Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:15 of the source and assurance of this hope and light: This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and I am the worst of them all.

In terms of hope and overcoming darkness, our hope lies in the promise of a saving grace. Salvation through the birth, and later death of Christ that returns us to the “good” God originally intended for us. Because our story of hope actually begins where “good” began-at creation. God created man and woman; humans as good, in His image, and without blemish. The Garden of Eden was intended to be a place of light, of His security, until evil entered in, and was not only accepted, but grasped ahold of, and sunk its teeth into goodness and light.

Evil exists because of the free will of humans. The choice made by Satan’s temptation, and God was forthcoming in what would occur as a result, stating the consequences in Genesis 3:16-19:

He told the Woman:
“I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth;
    you’ll give birth to your babies in pain.
You’ll want to please your husband,
    but he’ll lord it over you.”

He told the Man:
“Because you listened to your wife
    and ate from the tree
That I commanded you not to eat from,
    ‘Don’t eat from this tree,’
The very ground is cursed because of you;
    getting food from the ground
Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife;
    you’ll be working in pain all your life long.
The ground will sprout thorns and weeds,
    you’ll get your food the hard way,
Planting and tilling and harvesting,
    sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk (MSG)

Conflict. Between man and woman. Parent and child. Pain. Suffering. Struggle. Life, essentially, would NOT be easy.

But God made another promise as well: Satan would be crushed, and He would provide restoration for our brokenness.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17, NLT

This is our hope. Our light in the darkness. It’s how God intends to overcome evil, and we get to choose if we are going to let the light in, or continue to be consumed by the darkness.

What do you choose? Do you want the light of the world? The hope that resides in knowing a Savior? You can…simply choose Him today.