Hope

dsc_9379It is here.

The spicy smell in the cool air is officially here.  Summer has held on for an unbelievably long time, but the leaves have finally  shown their flaming colors and are beginning to drift to the ground.  Loving the smoky aroma of the incense, I rake them into fluffy piles to burn.

Standing under the branches of a favorite maple tree, and always looking for God in the “ordinary,” I was amazed one autumn,  when I discovered buds developing on the delicate tips where the leaves of the past summer were letting go. Science has determined that in order to create a bud, the tree needs the power of the late summer sun to develop the buds so necessary for the tree’s survival the next spring.   I was delighted not only in learning that little fact, but more so, because of this realization;  I am a child of the God of this beautiful creation,  and He is the God of hope.

My daughter gave me a gift of hope for my birthday this past week; a lovely brown bag full of daffodil bulbs.  She knows the battle I face every year about this time when I allow the shortened hours of daylight to cause darkness in my soul.  Things that aren’t as scary or overwhelming on a bright summer day, suddenly threaten to unravel my confidence in my Savior’s love and protection when the wind begins to howl, and storm clouds gather. How kind of Sarah to know her mama so well.

After digging in the cool black dirt of my flower bed on a warm fall afternoon, it was a blessing to tear open the bag and find the precious bulbs all prepared for next spring;  each had a pale shoot ready to go. As I set them deep in the ground and covered them  with a blanket of dirt,  my heart was full of thankfulness. I knew, because of God’s perfect plan, they would faithfully emerge from the darkness to add their golden splash of color to the otherwise dreary landscape of early spring in Wisconsin.

Paul personally knew how much we all need to be reminded of the hope-fullness of God.  He frequently wrote his letters while in chains, in the darkness of prison.  How much more weight his words carry than if he had never known suffering, but in those dark times, he learned  to know his God well.  He writes,  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  He didn’t just cling to a thin thread of hope while in the darkness;  he was filled with and abounding in joy and peace because of the great-fullness of  hope God had given him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This winter, when the temps drop below zero and I don’t see the sun for 3 weeks, I plan to hike out to my maple tree, and be reminded of God’s lavish gift of hope. Even under the snow and ice, the thousands of little buds will hang on; full and ready to burst, when the first warm days of spring arrive, demonstrating once again the faithfulness of our God.

That fills me with the joy and peace my soul craves.

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