There were no stars visible to begin page 270 as the arrival of cooler weather overnight brought some light rain with it. As I went about my morning prayer, cleaning, and building prep routine my mind seemed to focus a lot on hope. Like many words, I think we’ve often watered down the meaning of hope so that it no longer has the power within us that it ought to have. We have settled for a wishful thinking kind of hope instead of clinging to the hope which offers a confident expectation. As I prayed for the children who would soon be in the building, I wondered if my requests were just wishful thinking or filled with a confident expectation — and what really determines which it is.
I suspect that many times we settle for wishful thinking because we are not willing to put in the effort required to have a confident expectation. The hope that I have in Christ is a confident expectation because of a faith in Him that is both alive and active. No, there is nothing I can do to earn the favor of God, but there is something I must do in order to have it — offer an unconditional surrender of self and accept Him on His terms. It is my action, or lack of it, that is often the pivot point between wishful thinking and confident hope. I can look at many things in today’s world, including the children who are in the building, and either have a wishful thinking hope that everything will turn out well or increase my confident expectation by actively being involved in the things that I can influence. For years I have thought about and talked about the idea of leading prayer-based spiritual growth retreats, but the thought just hung out in the wishful thinking area of hope until I finally began to do the work necessary to move into the confident expectation that these retreats will take place. Granted, they may, or may not, look exactly like I expect them to, but I now have a confident expectation that they will take place and be what God wants them to be.
Once the building was ready, much of the day was divided between sermon work, maintenance details, and retreat preparation. Once the workday was over, I headed home to relax for a while before driving down to Potato Creek with my family to enjoy the beauty of the park. The eagles weren’t out where they were visible, so we took a walk on one of the trails to enjoy the fall evening. Today’s photo was taken during that walk as we found a heron with a stoic pose and steadfast gaze as he kept an eye out for his next meal. I suspect that he had a confident expectation that he would eat because he had put himself in the right place and was prepared for what he would find. After our walk, the western sky began to turn red as the sun finished setting for the day. After a few photos, we called it a day and made our way home.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- While the clouds and rain may keep the stars from being visible to me, their light is not extinguished.
- It’s easy to find things to pray about and people to pray for if we pay even a little bit of attention.
- I think that there is so much despair in our world partly because the wishful thinking kind of hope has left many disillusioned.
- If you want to have hope in the next generation, invest yourself in them in some way.
- Wishing you were right with God will not make it so.
- Unconditional surrender to God will result in a confident expectation that He has made all things right between you and Him.
- Dreaming can be good and beneficial, but to be productive the dreaming must lead to proper action.
- Proper action is the result of prayer and listening to God — not just pushing forward your own agenda.
- I love the old hymn that says, “My hope [confident expectation] is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” A lot of truth expressed in that line.
- A peaceful evening with family is a great way to wrap up a day.