Category Archives: Encouragement

Hope Is A One-Stringed Symphony

Take a close look at this brilliant piece of art.

Consider carefully what you’re seeing…

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Okay, what does it say?

Here’s what President Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright (I know, I know) interpreted from it in a sermon preached 20 years ago:

“with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God … To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope … that’s the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from [George Fredrick] Watt’s painting.”

That’s good, right? No matter who lectured on it. If it helps, pretend it was somebody else. 😁

There something you need to know about this interpretive-rich work of art. Actually, there’s two things. First, Mr. Watts labeled his painting simply (but pointedly) “Hope”, and, second, his work came on the heels of the tragic passing of his adopted daughter, Blanche.

I so get it, considering such a trial is all too painfully familiar.

Here’s what Watts offered with regard to his ironic painting:

“Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord”

My wife and I are holding a one-stringed harp. Our 31 years together have known a compilation of events that, each one by itself, would lead to a weakened marriage, or worse. What marriages survive the death of a child? Plus life-threatening sicknesses, ministry heartaches, a heart-wrenching adolescent whose prodigal life broke our hearts over and over again?

But, HOPE.

HOPE.

And Hope is a Person.

JESUS.

Take heart, bedraggled, downcast, waiting-for-breakthrough pilgrim. Your harp still has one string left…and always will.

The exiles of Israel were so broken over their captivity the Psalmist laments they hung their harps on the weeping willow trees. They opined they couldn’t play the songs of Zion in a strange land.

Well that’s unfortunate.

I say, how can you NOT sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land? Don’t the earth-dwellers need to here the harmonies of heaven? Is that not why we’re here?

To offer…

HOPE?

So, play your string.

And hope.

___________________

ACTION STEP:
In the comment box, paint a ‘picture’ of your situation and how God is giving you grace to hope?

Or just offer a comment!

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An Unfinished Sentence

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I’ve picked a book from the bookstore shelf and am immediately caught in the lilting currents of prose by its author. She describes one of her antiheroes as perplexing as “an unfinished sentence.”

No one likes the broken meter of an abrupt end. I was recently in a conversation with someone unfamiliar to me who persisted in beginning a thought, then switching gears. Or trailed off and just…assumed I followed. I didn’t. It was maddening.

By the end of that convo I felt like a tiny steel ball in the old pinball machine, sensing a slow-down or landing-spot only to be slapped in another direction.

Change.

Not the kind you wait until the barista notices, then drop into her tip jar, the kind that essentially costs you nothing.

No, the kind of change that signals the end of an era, the conclusion of a matter, a shift to the unknown. The kind that you don’t fish out of your pocket or scrabble at the bottom of your purse for.

That change.

…Which is what I’m finding myself on the front edge of…

Continue reading

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Recommended Book of the Week

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399167447/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0399167447&linkCode=as2&tag=thepas01-20&linkId=Y3PH7OJBJUPFHNDH

Jan Karon’s series set in the fictional town of Mitford, NC has been (at the risk of over-selling it) life-transforming for me. Each volume of the “Father Tim” saga has stirred my heart and revived my ways. This addition is no exception.

If you’re not familiar with Karon’s tender prose and untouchable story-telling, do yourself a favor and start the adventure. It’s a series, so starting at the beginning is to be preferred but this newest volume does a masterful job of filling in any holes you have missed.

Can’t tell you enough what these books mean to my soul. I hope you’ll find the same for yours.