The Thrill Escapes Me

Water.Kayak. - Copy

Paddleboarding lessons. I saw the blip in the corner of my computer screen as the email notification popped up. It was an offer from one of those daily-special sites. With a quick smile, a wrinkle of the nose and a slightly confused state, I thought, “Why?”

I have a lake nearby. There’s also a river that’s not too far away. Paddleboarding. Hmmmm…

The thrill escapes me. It just completely escapes me.

I love being on the water. Motorboat, canoe, pontoon, kayak. I might like to try windsurfing someday. Parasailing is a huge thrill (except when you actually can see the sharks in the water below or when the boat driver dips and drags you due to his inexperience). A glass-bottomed kayak in tropical waters is amazing, but paddleboarding?

I love the idea of skimming across the water, and I even love the idea of getting a great upper-body workout while I’m doing it, but I can do that in a kayak. Why do I need to, or even want to, stand up for any period of time and attempt to maintain balance while doing a similar motion? Why would I want to try to get back topside on the board after falling in the water (repeatedly, I am sure) when I have the trustworthiness of a kayak?

No, I’ve never tried paddleboarding, but I am sure I will one day. I have a feeling I’ll prefer my kayak.

Finding Hope in the Desires of Your Heart

Sunrise.Desires of the Heart

Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The Lord waits patiently for us to make Him the desire of our heart. When we finally do, our desires transform into His desires, and He is finally able to freely grant us the desires of our heart, because HIS desires are also now OUR desires.

So often, we wait in hope for Him to bless us by granting us our desires. On the surface, this verse might seem to promise just that:

“Lord, I’d like this for my life.”

“I’d like to be able to do this for you, for my family or for my church, Lord. If you’ll just help me…”

“If I could just have this, Lord, I’d finally be content and be able to focus more on becoming more of what you’d like me to be.”

Does any of this sound familiar to you? I know I’ve done it many times over. We all contain that rebellious part of our nature that will try to reason with Him in our mind (and on occasion, in our prayers) to convince our Self that what we really do desire is, of course, what He would also desire for us. We convince our Self that our desire must have come from Him, and it, of course, would be a good thing for us and for our relational walk with Him in the long run.

“…Thy will be done…” We’ve all prayed it. We’ve all said it. Yet, have we really meant it? His Will will never fall short for us. He’ll work all of what He allows into our life for His good and for our good, too (Romans 8:28). We can read that in His Word, and we can believe it on the surface and in our believing ways, but if we truly trusted that His Will was the best way, it would embody us to our core, and we would want nothing more. Instead of constantly going to Him with our often-carnal desires, our hope-filled prayers would be a yearning to know what He would desire of us, so we could then line up our Will with His.

When our desires are lined up with His desires, He WILL give us the desires of our heart! It’s a deep thought that we are challenged to wrap around in our minds, as we are so often focused on Self desires rather than His desires. He wants nothing but the best for us. That does not mean life will be perfect and always smooth-sailing, but it does mean that our joy will be complete in Him (John 16:24), by Him and through Him no matter what this earthy life throws at us.

THIS is the beauty of walking in fellowship with the Lord…

…of praying without ceasing,

…of doing His will,

…of living life through His ways,

…of honoring HIM with all that we do, say and think,

…and of following the path that He has laid out before us.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He WILL give you the desires of your heart, because your desires will be His desires, and His desires will be your desires!

Finding Hope in the Circumstances

Lone Daisy

Why me? Why have today’s circumstances been allowed to be today’s circumstances in my life?

It’s a question I ask myself all the time. It’s a question that brings me HOPE (learned over a lot of hurt), because I know that I am a child of God, and I know that He has promised to bring me hope and to work all of these circumstances for good.

Jeremiah 29:11 brings the hope:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

and Romans 8:28 brings the promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

So what IS the point of today’s circumstances?

Are they to refine me? To define me?
Are there lessons to be learned by me? Or, are there lessons to be taught to others?
Am I meant to take away an opportunity for growth? Or, is the take away meant to be shown to others as an example of hope?
Are these circumstances a lifeline to what lies ahead? Or, are they a lesson of what needs to remain behind?

My checklist reveals a lot. The answers that I jot down reveal a lot. The answers are there. The original question begs for the additional questions to be asked. The answers are there.

God is speaking to me today. No, not out loud, but very profoundly. When I can lean on His hope and His promises and know them to be faithful and true, I will be able to sort out some of the answers. Then, maybe, just maybe, the dilemma will become another blessing.

Reflecting His Light with Fullness

Moon.A Reflection of the Light

This past weekend, there was a full moon — a “supermoon” was what it was called. Watching that moon rise and float across the sky gave me the opportunity to ponder its beauty and wonder. I am sure that many of you took that opportunity, also.

The moon itself is not a direct source of light. We know that when it rises in the night sky, it is able to be seen because it catches a hold on the unseen sunlight beaming through the sky from the other side of the Earth, and it reflects that sunlight for us to see.

The moon is not just a floating rock, either. It was created for a purpose. When God revealed it in the sky, it was to serve as a sign for the seasons, for the day and for the years (Genesis 1:14), and to govern over the night (v.16). The moon also controls our tides and serves as an important part of many cultures.

It’s the reflection of the sun that caught my mind’s eye over the weekend.

Without the sun, life as we know it could not exist in the natural world. As Believers, we know that the One who gave the sun its light was God (Genesis 1:14-16). Light, however, existed before the sun (Genesis 1:3) when it was separated from the darkness.

His spoken words were what separated the light from the darkness and later created the sun and the moon. His Creation is not only a reminder of His existence, but also of His handiwork.

Watching the weekend’s full moon and knowing it was reflecting the sun shining half a world away made me think about my Creator. He created me for a purpose, too. He created me in His image, not just to be a random being on this planet, but to reflect His image to others through my existence and through my work. He called me to be a light before others for His glory (Matthew 5:16). He did that with you, too.

If I am doing what I was created to do day after day, then I’m like a full moon rising night after night. The moon has cycles where it reflects differing amounts of sunlight, and my walk with Him does, too. If I am fulfilling the purpose for which He made me, though, then I should be spending more and more time reflecting the fullness of who He is to the world through the way I live my life. That also means others should see it in me and see Him through me.

Hope Surrendered is a part of that purpose! It’s a part of how I believe He is using me –and calling me — to reflect His glory, His grace and His hope in the world during this particular season of my life.

Thank you for coming along on the journey! As I share with you my thoughts, my stories and how He has forever impacted me along the way, may it all be for His honor and glory.

About the original blog owner

This Hope Surrendered address was originally a WordPress blog and was the idea of another hope-filled person whose identity is different than the current writer of this Hope Surrendered.

I had been putting ideas together for Hope Surrendered in 2012, and I began writing as Hope Surrendered in other places in early 2013. Shortly thereafter, I found myself praying about the possibility of having a website with the same name. An internet search led me to realize the name was available everywhere except for on WordPress, where there was a blogger with the Hope Surrendered name. Very disappointed, I dropped the website idea thinking it was probably impossible to use the Hope Surrendered name.

But…the whole Hope Surrendered idea was one I felt had been planted within me, not something I came up with on my own. Some would call it “destiny,” but for me it was a calling. Despite my disappointment in the not being able to fully own and use the name even though I had been using it in other places, the website idea just never went away.

When I (the current writer here) found her (the original writer) on WordPress, I was amazed at how a lot of our thoughts were similar. Because the website idea just would not go away for me, I decided to try to talk with her about it. She (the original WordPress writer) didn’t have any contact information listed on her blog, but she did allow comments to be made, so I commented on her posts and asked her to contact me. Knowing it had been about two years since she had posted, I didn’t really expect a reply. BUT…she did reply. I then asked her to prayerfully consider if she was interested in continuing to blog as Hope Surrendered at WordPress, but if she wasn’t interested, I asked her if she would consider allowing me to own the name on WordPress that I had been using elsewhere on the web for quite some time.

She did pray about it. She then consented and very graciously turned the name of the WordPress blog over to me. I believe the Lord was working in both of us through this, and I feel blessed to have connected with her to discuss my ideas with her. After she removed herself from the name, I, in turn, shifted her original site to a dot.com, changed the format and have continued as Hope Surrendered. If you visit Facebook or Twitter, the Hope Surrendered there is me, and has always been me. With the exception of the writings directly below, all of the other writings on this website are from me.

As a tribute to her and in appreciation for her willingness to allow me to fully own the name and site, I felt it was imperative to keep her original writings here as a part of this site’s history. So many of us are hope-filled and trying to live a life of surrendering our hopes to the Lord. The original Hope Surrendered spent time “finding hope in surrender” through her walk and her writings; today, I am also living my life by surrendering my hopes to the promise of finding something even better.

So, as a tribute to the first Hope Surrendered WordPress author, here are her foundational writings from early 2011:

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ABOUT THE ORIGINAL HOPE SURRENDERED (as written by the original Hope Surrendered in 2011)

This blog is all about lasting fulfillment.

Fulfillment that comes from trading in your life for Christ’s.

Chew on that for a while. Trading your life.

Trading your grief, your racing thoughts. Trading your loneliness, your most bitter failures. Trading your fears, your handicaps. Trading your accomplishments, your friends. Trading your hobbies, your reputation. Trading your time, your love.

What is lasting fulfillment? Seizing the opportunity for the Author of the universe write you an incredible life story, no matter how it reads up until this point. You can have joy. You were born to make an impact that will matter long after you die. You were painstakingly created. Your Lord is greater than anything your mind can fathom. Oswald Chambers once said, “Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove himself to be everything you ever dreamed He would be.” Trust me, He can, He does, and He will.

I know that it can be a confusing, joyful, and, yes, a painful process to trade in your current life for a different one. I know you’re a little unsure. I know that you’re now debating whether it’s worth giving up your comfort for joy and freedom. But I know the process is worth it, every step of the way. Every tear, every laugh, every shout, every prayer is leading you towards your ultimate reward of knowing the Lord.

I pray that you will take a chance on God. Take the chance that his promises that are “pure, like silver refined in a furnace” (Psalm 12:6). Oh, and…”When [you ask, you] must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

If you are ready to be offered and ready to be rid of your old life, then by all means, offer yourself with abandon and determination. He will always prove Himself faithful to those who call on His name.

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OTHER RESOURCES (compiled by the original Hope Surrendered in 2011)

If you’re wondering more about what it means to abandon your life to Christ, or if you’re looking to grow in your faith, here are some great books and movies that can tell you more about the incredible joy and sacrifice involved in living God’s way for God’s purposes.

1. The Bible. Seems obvious, but this will always be the best and only necessary place to learn about Truth. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help with interpreting passages! A word of caution, however: the Bible continually warns about false teachers (people who claim to speak the Truth but who distort it so that they are really not serving Christ). Don’t fear! Read 1 John 4:1-6 to learn how to see if someone speaks the Truth. Acts 5:29-29 can also be helpful. However, you can be discerning without being judgmental. As humans, we are created equal. We are made righteous only because Christ bore our punishment. In other words, you can not do anything to make yourself better than anyone else, at least when it comes to God’s standards (which is perfection). We all fall short. So, as you learn to test people’s interpretations of the Bible (including mine!), keep in mind that they may not even be aware that they have also been deceived. In love and with sincere compassion for them, work together to find the Truth.

2. Radical by David Platt. A practical book that bravely and loudly proclaims the intensity of true surrender to Christ.

3. Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy. A great book about dating for girls. It reveals that we must first seek our Heavenly Prince before we can find a fulfilling love story with an earthly prince. I also recommend any other book by Eric and Leslie Ludy!

4. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. An incredible story of the faith and love of this woman and her family who sheltered Jews in their home during WWII until they were discovered and sent to concentration camps.

5. Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot. A true story of the radical abandonment of a group of missionaries to Christ and their fellow-man.

6. The Small Woman by Alan Burgess. Another story of the courage and love shown by a single missionary woman to China.

7. Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. An inspiring, comforting, year-long daily devotional for people going through trying times. Filled with writings and poems by a great variety Christians.

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THE POEM  from Feb. 26, 2011 (written by the original Hope Surrendered)

Dear friends, God has worked through this poem so many times in my life. When I start to second-guess my surrender to Him; when my old self tries to scream, “This isn’t fair!”; and when I forget what my King did for me, this poem assures me, quiets me, and reminds me…He is the only one who can make the suffering of this world worth while.

There is a peace that springs soon after sorrow,

Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled;

A peace that does not look upon tomorrow,

But calmly on the storm that it has stilled.

A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses,

Nor in the happy life of love secure;

But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,

Of conflicts won while learning to endure.

A peace there is, in sacrifice secluded,

A life subdued, from will and passion free;

It’s not the peace that over Eden brooded,

But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.

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