Category Archives: Hope

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.

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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…

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An Amazing Thing Happened On The Way To Our Son’s Grave

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Funny thing about rainbows, they’re actually circles, not half-arcs. Obviously they look like arches to us because of our limited perspective, seeing only half the story because the horizon kind of gets in the way.

My lovely spotted the colorful band stretched over the cemetery where our son’s body was laid to rest last Christmas as we made our approach. It was our thirty-first wedding anniversary and we wanted to share our celebration with our boy. Sandy often wants me to drive the long way around Mozley Gardens to pay respects to any of Graham’s new “neighbors” before we park at his marker, so I was poking along scanning the lawns out my driver’s side window when I heard her exclaim:

“Oh honey, look!”

I followed her graceful index finger as it stretched toward the windshield.

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A bow of beauty.

The Sovereign had kissed our evening by finger-painting a swath of grace over our Gra-Gra.

Well, that’s all she wrote. We were undone. Verklempt. A wet mess.

In a good way.

“I know about the promise of God to not destroy the earth with floods,” my bride offered, “but what else do you think God is saying?”

I was already in that vein, the Bible teacher in me calling up the Revelator’s vision of God on His throne in His abode of heaven. Verse three says “around the throne” was a rainbow and a quick study suggests it’s a full circle, as rainbows tend to be.

A perfect circle.

No beginning, no end. No pause, no break. No altered course, but fulfillment and wholeness.

Eternality.

God said, “look up.”

We lifted our watery eyes.

“See My initials in sweeping, color-laden script?”

We indeed saw the stamp of Resurrection.

The “all things new” seal of Certainty.

We’re two still-grieving parents encased in the drama of loss, sighing at the memories and could-have-beens, making our repeated pilgrimage to the sacred stone…

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BUT WE’RE

…gently carried all the while (yet again!) by everlasting Arms that scaffold our temporal home with rainbows to remind us

that Eternity awaits,

that these eyes only see half the picture,

that the Best is yet to be,

that the grace that pavilions us in these years of dust and ash,

will give way to Endless Dawn, forever illuminated by the Sun and Daystar of our souls, Jesus the Christ and Father of Lights.

That rainbow reminded us that His exhaustive archives of eternity and our place (and Graham’s!!!) in the Eternal Story is not a half-arc (half done), but a complete arc, and – my beloved fellow pilgrim – let it serve to tell you that God wastes none of your raw materials in preparing you for His Glory. All of it goes into the flourish of His finishing touches.

Just look up.

It’s there to remind you.