May 11 2011

Resurrecting Hope

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The past couple of months, as the trees leafed out and the wildflower seedlings poked their tiny heads through the soil, I felt the chill of winter.

It could be that Seattle had it’s coldest, grayest April on record.

But as the joy of Easter seeps slowly in, I realize Lent just lasted a bit longer for me this year.

I planted my blue morning glory seeds over four weeks ago and kept checking for signs of life, even as I checked my own heart.

Hope had gone into hiding.

Is anything growing?

Will anything ever grow?

And if it does, what’s its purpose?

I wait in hope that the lifeless seeds will one day bloom. It’s seemed to take forever, just to get this far, and I can’t see the end.

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This morning, asking my questions, I picked up a book by Richard Sterns, The Hole in Our Gospel. Sterns is the president of World Vision.

I  randomly opened it to an amazing story of seed planting.

Edward Kimball taught Sunday school in Boston and invested in the lives of boys and young men. One of these teens was particularly challenging, so Kimball visited him at his family’s shoe store. He spoke about the love of Christ (actually mumbled it nervously, not sure what to say), and surprisingly the young man committed his life to Christ then and there. This teen, Dwight L Moody, would ultimately share the gospel with over 100 million people during his life, as well as start inner city ministries and a college in Chicago.  In 1879, F.B. Meyer was influenced by Moody’s witness and became a minister, he in turn mentored J.W. Chapman, who ministered to professional baseball players. One of those players, Billy Sunday, became one of the most known evangelists of the early 20th century.  Sunday’s ministry of preaching led Mordecai Ham to follow Christ,  and Ham became an evangelist as well. Ham’s preaching and invitation to follow Christ was heard by a young teen, Billy Graham.

Richard Sterns writes: “Do you sometimes feel that you have nothing worthwhile to offer–that you are a nobody when it comes to doing great things for God? I wonder if Edward Kimball felt the same way. He never did anything spectacular or particularly newsworthy. He just showed up out of faithfulness to God, an hour or two each week, to teach the boys in his class. And yet Edward Kimball’s dedication to teaching Sunday school faithfully and caring about those boys changed the world.”

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Our daily work of love is a seed. Loving one person near us cannot but unleash God’s love in some unique way into the world.

And that amazing transformative Love will sparkle and spiral and twirl as it touches the lives of countless others down into the future.

We may never know to where and to what just showing up and sharing God’s love will lead.

But knowing that God’s Word of Love created the universe and raised his Son from the grave, we can hope for a garden of abundance to spring green.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

–Psalm 130:5-6


Feb 1 2010

Living Grace: Resurrection

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“Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke to us on the road…?” Luke24:32

The first day of February gives me a sense of hope: spring is coming.

During this week in Seattle each year,  the returning sun warms the city and many of the trees bloom a gentle pink.  It is a promise ring of spring in the long months of rainy gray days.

While there is more sun here in Boston, the bitter cold reminds me that spring is a long way off.  There are no tentative buds, not for another three months.  Yet still I hope for a warmed heart and blooms.

This morning I read from Eugene Peterson’s Living the Resurrection.  Not unlike the first of February or the pink-blossomed trees, his words give me hope of an already-happened-yet-still-coming Spring, marked by an empty tomb and awe and tears and joy.

Easter seems a long way off.  It’s not even Ash Wednesday, and there’s a lot of living between now and then: Lent and Palm Sunday, and a Friday-that-somehow-God-made-good.

Between now and then, I will also enter my fourth decade.  I find myself deeply desiring some pink blooms of grace and hope to face that day.

Yet, Easter has happened.  For Narnia readers, “Aslan Lives!”  And nothing gives me such a thrill of joy.

And so, this week, I want to look for signs of spring, little buds of hope, hints of resurrection.  I am going to put flowers in my home and office, and spend some time on a photo quest hunting for signs of resurrection beauty to share with you this coming Saturday. I will look for God’s life-giving grace in the stories of people I speak with, those students attending the Reading Retreat this coming weekend, and the texts on prayer for my dissertation.

I would love to hear your stories of finding spring and resurrection this week.

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