Thursday, April 27, 2017

Still here, still waiting...and what God's teaching in the process...

Welp, here we are. Still here. Still waiting. Still constantly being challenged by God in so many ways. Up until now, this season has been hard, but I wouldn't necessarily characterize it with the word hard. As I've shared previously, God has been teaching us so much and using us HERE where we are, showing us to open our eyes to what He has for us here, and He has been giving us so much time to rest in Him. Not to mention, we are overjoyed with the time we have had to be intentional with those around us. It has been a true blessing to get so much time with people. Oh and before I forget, we got to visit some of those people all the way in Colorado and Arizona, so who's complaining right?

{And getting to stop at Arches National Park- pictured above- and the Grand Canyon were also so refreshing and fun too!}

Right. I know I truly have nothing to complain about. We are in a place we love, with people we love. Up until recently, my heart has been truly content in this stage and what God has for us (most days!). But over this past week, my emotions have run wild. Just when I might think I've got a few of these areas of character that God is working on in me all figured out, He brings another circumstance to humble me and remind me to keep my hope set on Him alone.

A few months ago, a portion of our visa application that we had been waiting on for 11 months for Australia got denied. {Insert: emotions starting to churn right about then}. We reapplied for this portion and it got approved in 1 day! {Insert: new and different emotions arising}. Then a few weeks ago, we got, what seemed like an actual timeline that MAY be reliable to go off of for when we may be able to move. {Insert: emotions, so much hope, and my mind was rolling with details of the next few months trying to get them all planned out, all the while saying I was NOT going to get my hopes up for this to actually happen}. Of course, when your emotions are running this wild, you get your hopes up even when you are trying so hard to not get your hopes up. Then a few days ago, we looked up the visa webpage that informed us of this timeline and the timeline had changed. No, it hadn't become shorter, but longer. My perfect timeline for getting there before second semester started was crushed. And yet again, God nudged me and asked, "Where are you putting your hope?"

Over the past few months of this waiting season, God has been POURING His Word into me specifically through 1 Peter 1 lately. I have spent a lot of time memorizing, meditating on, and digging into this passage of scripture. It has been my lifeline. God has used His Word to fill me up and set my hope in Him alone. It is so easy to get consumed with the circumstances that are going on in our lives and allow THEM to become our hope. I have been fighting this, as we all do, each day. I thought I'd share a bit of these passages as well as some of my thoughts that the Lord has been impressing on me deeply. I hope it can be an encouragement to you today too.

From 1 Peter 1:
"According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," v. 3

"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." v. 8-10

"Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." v. 13

This thought of where my hope lies has been constantly on my mind, along with where my joy comes from. As I've studied this passage in depth, I have been overjoyed in the hope we have in Christ. HE alone is our only hope. This entire passage is about the gospel: the hope we have because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and rose again. He overcame sin and death for us and gave us a hope of a life lived with Him for all eternity. THIS is where true hope comes from. It is not in our circumstances or the people around us or in ourselves. It is in Christ alone and what He has done to bring us back to God. Our joy is inexpressible and filled with glory because it is joy in loving Christ, believing in Him, trusting in Him- He who is inexpressibly glorious. His gloriousness is inexpressibly great, so our joy is inexpressibly glorious!

But how can we possibly hope FULLY? There are so many distractions and things that are constantly drawing us away from our True Hope. It is only after reveling in the gospel of His grace (read in verses 1-12) and Him graciously saving His people, only then can we hope fully in that grace. Hope happens when our minds are set on the Truth and are active in Truth. We must run, work, and live with and in the Truth of Scripture. We must be fully carried away with hope and let God get all the glory due His name as we hope in Him. What a beautiful joy and hope the world sees when we find all our joy and peace and hope in Jesus and not in the world.

One quick reminder though. It is not about how hard we try to have our hope set in Christ. Remember  1 John 4:10..."not that we loved God but that He loved us." It is HIS LOVE for us that gives hope, not how much we love Him. I'll end on this quote from Paul David Tripp:

"Your hope is not in your ability to love God, but in His unrelenting and unshakable love for you.
Yes, the power of sin has been broken by the work of Jesus, but the presence of sin still remains and is being progressively eradicated. Our hearts are still fickle, we still rebel and want our own way, we still forget God and his glory, we still write our own rules, we still love our kingdoms more than we love his, we still demand what we don't deserve, and we still question God's goodness when we don't get our own way. We tend to love ourselves and the world, but very often the love of the Father is simply not in us. So our hope in life and death is never to be found in the degree of love for God. It is only ever found in the magnitude of HIS love for you. This love is yours as a gift of his grace even on those days where your heart has run after other lovers. That's just how beautiful and faithful his love for you really is."

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