Each year I choose a word to be my prophetic by- word for the year. This year on New Year’s Day (wasn’t that just yesterday? How did it get to be March already?) I felt the Holy Spirit whispering “hope” to my heart. “Whispering hope oh how welcome they voice” was a chorus often sung at Sunday School at the base chapel in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Except because of how we sang it I thought it actually was, “Whispering Hope oh how WILL COME Thy voice.”
In the 4th grade hope did whisper frequently. Not too hard when popularity with peers is based on kick-ball prowess (I was AWESOME!) and you can spend every day at the beach. Frankly, hope has whispered less frequently as I have grown older so this New Year’s whispering was a bit scary for me. My mother’s mantra became my own as the years passed with promises unfulfilled. “Don’t get your hopes up.”
As I sit morning by morning in the presence of the Lord that whispered word is becoming a powerful song. Sometimes it sounds like Housefires “All your promises are yes and amen!” ringing in my head and heart. And sometimes:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words…
Thank you Emily Dickinson!
Now, I would like to say that my Exodus from the wilderness of disappointment is complete and that persistent hope is the hallmark of my life. Indeed, I thought I was well on my way until Wednesday’s chapel service at school when the Holy Spirit again whispered to me. No, let’s be frank; Holy Spirit was all up in my business. This was no sweet whisper but an insistence that I pay attention.
Pastor JP from Eastside Church was using 2 Kings 4, the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman, to talk about making room for the Lord and what He is up to. Who knew that Shunem means “resting place” or that the word translated chair actually means “throne”? I was amen-ing like crazy as JP talked about how the lamp that the Shunammite placed in the prophet’s room would have required more than just the flip of a switch. It required tending. Our light requires tending.
THEN, we got to verse 11 and following. You should read the story. Basically Elisha wants to do something for this woman to repay her kindness in setting up a room in her home for him. (I lived in an Elisha room in my cousin’s house so I know how he feels.) Elisha prophesies over her the very thing her heart has longed for. He speaks to her place of greatest disappointment by promising her a son. Her response is, “No, my Lord!” “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”
Ya, this is where that Holy Spirit two by four blind-sided me. He said, “This is you. You listen to the voice of your disappointment. You wear unfulfilled promises like a shroud. It is good that you have learned to sit with your pain, to rejoice in the midst of it but I say to you, ‘Rise up my love. All my promises are yes and amen.”
This Holy Spirit song coupled with my spiritual director’s insight that it was time to consider the next “big ask,” immediately followed by my resistance I might add…. This Holy Spirit anthem coupled with some reading I have been doing that has made me believe that dreams can come true has caused anxiety and hope and joy to rise within me all at the same time. He does not “mislead his servants,” as the Shunammite woman and this Charlottean are discovering.
Hope sings reminding us that He IS faithful. Hope, “the confident expectation of a favorable outcome,” easy as a 4th grader comes whispering and singing even in difficult 60 year-old days. Emily was right,
Hope “sings the tune without the words-and never stops at all.” I believe that in 2018 the Lord wants to write lyrics for hope’s persistent song. Your lyrics may be different from mine. Chances are pretty good Holy Spirit wants to speak to your greatest place of disappointment and turn its barrenness into fertile ground. Let’s get our hopes up and sing this Holy Spirit song in perfect harmony. That old commercial really wasn’t just a Coca-Cola idea, you know. All His promises are yes and amen!