A Picture Of Hope

11 10 2007

John Wesley was, to say the least, an interesting character. He kept a diary of his life – every event, right now to things we really didn’t need to know! Among my favorite Wesley stories, and pardon me if I mess the details up just a bit, has to do with his thoughts on what it means to be on the right track for the Lord.

One day as Wesley rode his horse to another ministry point, he began to contemplate how well things were going for him. It was a beautiful day, he felt quite well, the road was smooth, and all seemed right with the world. This bothered him. He began to pray in fear that since the devil wasn’t trying to make the day difficult, it must mean that he was not doing something he should be doing for God. Not long after the prayer, a rock came out of nowhere and hit Mr. Wesley right upside the noggin. He began to thank God for trouble; it affirmed to him that he was on the right track after all!

As weird and wired as that may sound, I too have experienced such anxieties. Anyone who serves the Lord, who obeys Him, and who loves Him with all their heart, soul and mind will attest to the reality that satan doesn’t like it when we live such a life. He will throw obstacles in our path to make our service to the Lord difficult. Don’t get me wrong here – I think we give satan way yonder too much credit. After all, he is not omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient like God. On the other hand, there is a documentable reality that the more we serve God, the more we encounter the resistance of evil. I’m not one who likes to dwell on such matters – I prefer to focus my mind on the things of Christ (Paul reminded us to fill our minds with the good things). Still, when in battle, it’s important to know the enemy.

For those of you who are followers of Christ, I would covet your prayers these days for the church that I pastor. We have a wonderful group of people, God has given me a clear ministry vision, we’ve seen many things that encourage us, and yet things continue to go wrong. We’ve struggled financially for some time (mind you, I lead this church with the strictist of stewardship goals – there is no waste). And as we’ve grown, our biggest supporters have one by one hit financial hard times. I’m not talking about little rocks in the road – I’m talking about financially devastating events. It has happened to me and my wife as well thanks to her 8 months of hospitalization.

Just as I need your prayers, I also approach this matter with great hope and faith. God is teaching me a new lesson these days. Not only should I learn to pray BIG, but I need to learn to dream BIG as well. While faith involves belief without sight, there is a definite example in the Bible of people whose faith had vision. They saw what could be, they dreamed dreams, and they prayed.

As a photographer, I’ve recently been taking pictures of unusual cloud formations just for my personal satisfaction (weird, huh?!). Not long ago, I took a picture of gray, swirling clouds. The unusual thing is that as I began to process it by means of digital software, I saw something that I’d completely missed before. As I applied color enhancement, the vivid blue of the sky beyond the gray began to pop out. My heart was strangely warmed, to quote Wesley. I gave the picture the title “Hope”, and shared it with my congregation. Too often we focus on the gray swirling clouds around us, and we miss the blue sky just beyond. We focus on the trouble, the hardship, and the detractors, and we miss the God stuff and the God hope that is just beyond it all. I am sharing this picture with you in hopes that your hope will be restored and renewed. Praying for my request is also transformational for you; prayer not only changes things, it changes the one who prays as well. May God restore your hope today as you seek to serve Him.

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