Lately the overflow of hope in my life became all but choked. The sharp cultural divide in our Christian nation over so many issues, and that in a few states, recently escalated to the killing of infant abortion survivors had led to shock and outrage. The national indignation that followed was only natural, and not borne of the hate that is too often assigned to conservative motives. My reaction, like many, was a blend of righteous anger and grief. A cloud hung over me.
In my Bible study this weekend, the Lord reminded me… “I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:15-17) Part of that sanctification is to be careful of things that would weigh my heart down, including anxiety, which was thrown right into the lot with excessive drinking, wasteful expenditures, and self-indulgence. (Luke 21:34) So while I am fervently praying for babies, women, and politicians during our cultural divide, I am also seeking joy, peace and overflowing hope.
I am so thankful that this weekend I got to go to a Moms in Prayer MO conference in Chesterfield with a couple great friends. The theme was the outrageous overflow of hope. While there, we read a handout written by Susan Shepherd, MiP USA Coordinator on Romans, chapter 8. Verses 13-15 reminded me of my spiritual adoption. As a daughter of God, and joint heir with Christ, I have received a Spirit that sets me free from all that would enslave me. Though I share in His sufferings, they aren’t worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in me someday. I am privy to the inexpungible rights of adoption by my “Abba” Father. Warm Wednesday Words: Inexpungible Family Ties
I set my mind on what the Spirit desires. Shepherd wrote “I honestly believe it can be like concrete too…once it is set, changing takes divine intervention! We should be very intentional and careful about what we set our minds on!” I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and choose to live my life in response to that, in spite of my weaknesses. My mindset toward Christ is set in concrete.
Shepherd also wrote, “Hope enables me to wait patiently for the liberation and restoration of not only the earth, but… for myself and every believer to be completed when Christ returns. My best days lie ahead of me. You too!” I can throw off the shackles of anxiety. You can throw them off too. If your shackles are a different indulgence, it doesn’t matter. Throw them off. Slavery to self-indulgence is not living free and not headed toward a legacy. If you don’t have Him, you’ll need Christ as your Savior. Though his love is for everyone, His intercession and watch care are reserved for His own. Personally, I can’t imagine life without Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.
Near the end of Romans 8, God promises He will use everything for good in the lives of those who love Him. This amazing promise is only offered to believers. Whether it’s in my own life, as I search for and find hope and joy in any circumstances, or whether it’s His answers to my prayers as He awakens those whom I consistently pray for, or any other manner of His other plans, He uses all things concerning me. “For behold, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrow on the string to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD is on His heavenly throne. His eyes are watching closely; they examine the sons of men. ” (Ps. 11:2-4) So I depend on Him. He’s already given me His own Son, and if that weren’t enough, He will graciously give me all things. (Romans 8:32) How can I not give graciously in an extravagant overflow to others? Any other style of living is part of the trap warned about in Luke 21:34, that will close on us unexpectedly should we continue living selfishly.
In the grand finale of the wonderful eighth chapter of Romans, I’m assured that nothing, no nothing…ever can separate me from His love for me. When He looks at me, because of my adoption which I will never take for granted, He sees Christ, who never stops interceding for me. The well of His love is bottomless. His forgiveness separates my sins from me as far as the east is from the west. Because His deliverance is thorough and His restoration is complete, He pulls me out from any pits and sets my feet on higher ground. When I am humble and contrite, He, in all His Holiness, is right there dwelling with me even closer. I can live a life that is pleasing to Him. My freedoms do not lead me into extravagant pitfalls. His wisdom governs my decisions and my paths. Though I grieve when a nation turns its’ back on God, and refuse to bury my head in the sand, I know that, for me, God will use this strife for a good purpose in the lives of me and mine.
Whatever the trial, how can I not overflow with outrageous hope?