2020 Hope Whispers

The future is uncertain, but God’s faithful love will always be certain.

When It’s Hard to Understand God’s Plan

2020 has been a tough year. When we experience losses, trauma, and sorrows, it can be so hard to understand God’s plan for us, can’t it?

This year the most read post is one from 2015:

God’s Plan Is Greater Than Ours

“No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come,
hostile powers, height or depth
or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us from the
love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Romans 8:37-39

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All my life through
the new sights of nature
made me rejoice
like a child.”
Marie Curie

Thank you to my brother John
for these stunning photos.
🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂
Botta’s Pocket Gopher
Black-crowned Night Heron
American Avocet
Redhead Male
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Acorn Woodpecker
Osprey With a Meal of Koi

Our Powerful and Faithful God Breathes Hope Through His Creation

Opening our ears to the sweet symphony of nature, our eyes to its calming palette of color, and our understanding to our Creator’s faithful care cannot but give us hope in times of uncertainty. Its steady rhythm reminds us that some aspects of our lives are not affected by the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus.

God’s Almighty power created the heavens and the earth, and it is so evident He is still in control. He faithfully brings the change of seasons, no matter what is happening in this world.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Every moment He faithfully watches over and cares for His creatures. Every morning the birds start an early chorus of praise to God. Unfettered by the cares of this world, it’s like their focus is fixed on their Creator alone.

“Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away
in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more
valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:26-27

No, we can’t add a single hour to our lives or others’ lives by worrying, but I see and hear worry everywhere these days. In my own heart. In the eyes and voices of so many. Behind the tough exteriors of those who try so hard to be strong. In the text of our young grandson when he heard I was sick again and was being tested for Covid, how he expressed his worries of me as high risk and how they were praying. When he found out the test was negative, his words soothed my soul, “God has a plan for you and it doesn’t stop now.”

Yes, God has a plan for us. Even in the midst of uncertainty, sickness, and loss. We may rebel and think our plan would be better, but it’s not. There is going to be suffering and dying, cold and hunger, and loss of all kinds in this world. Do we always understand it? No. Can we make sense out of it? No. Can we run our lives better? No. From our side things look like a mess, like the threads on the underside of a weaving, but what God sees is the total picture of His plan, beautiful and glorious beyond compare. And we are included in that plan and never forgotten. We are the ones He calls much more valuable than the birds of the air He faithfully cares for.

“I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2

When you allow your senses to soak in God’s creation, whether outdoors or from your window or doorway ( or even from photos), does it breathe hope into your soul? What does it say to you about God’s faithful character?

All of the bird photos were taken through my tinted office windows.

My view from my office window. A house finch pair built a nest! The little ones have now hatched and are being fed.

Here is Papa!

“Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:12

The sun feels much warmer than the snow!

On the same day, this robin was also trying to keep warm.

This same robin devours seeds like he’s starving. He throws out the safflower seeds and seeks for the sunflower chips. Maybe when it’s warmer, he’ll check out the worms and bugs?

A chipping sparrow has been visiting.

The goldfinches left for a while after the big snow we had on Easter, but now they’re back. Hooray!

Maker of the Stars
by Demetrios Leiloglou

“I sat and watched the evening sky as it turned shades of red
One by one the stars came out like diamonds in a sea of black
And as I started to count them all I realized they had no end
That’s the way it must be with God’s love… the Maker of the Stars…”

Giving Our Lives Into the Potter’s Hands

“So I went down to the potter’s house,
and there he was, working away at the wheel.

But the jar that he was making from the clay
became flawed in the potter’s hand,

so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.
The word of the LORD came to me: ‘House of Israel,
can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay?’ —
this is the LORD’s declaration.
‘Just like clay in the potter’s hand,

so are you in My hand, house of Israel.'”
Jeremiah 18:3-6

“A good thing is never made in a hurry,” said Great Woman in Lois Lenski’s Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison as she instructed impatient Corn Tassel how a slower, more loving process leads to a more beautiful, valuable, and sturdy pot.

I identify with Corn Tassel’s impatience of the process. I can be a petulant child when it comes to God’s forming me and molding me to be more like Him. I long and pray to be made more like Jesus, but I want it to be immediate. I don’t like the life-long, painful process.

Certainly He can do it in a moment, but His slower, more loving process is better as He gradually increases Himself in us and decreases our self-centeredness.

We can be so rigid with our way and our plans for our lives. As our Potter works to make us pliable enough to shape to His will, we rebel and cry out, “No! No! No! Not that way. That curve needs to be straightened. That section doesn’t need to be shaved off. I will yet burst from the pain!”

“You have turned things around,
as if the potter were the same as the clay.
How can what is made say about its maker,
“He didn’t make me”?
How can what is formed
say about the one who formed it,
‘He doesn’t understand what he’s doing’?”
Isaiah 29:16

I continually kick against the Potter’s way and don’t trust that I’m in the best hands I can be in. He knows perfectly what He is doing and He knows best how to shape me into a vessel that will hold and pour out His glory. Oh, how glad I am that He is so infinitely patient with me!

There are so many processes in life that never benefit us by trying to hurry them along. We want immediate fixes and visual evidences of a positive result. We want God to instantly answer our prayers and grant us our desires, but we don’t realize that His refusal or waiting does us more good than immediate affirmation. Many of the things we ask for, either for ourselves or others, aren’t even good for us or them.

It’s so hard not to fight against the process God uses to mold us or our loved ones, isn’t it? To trust in His all-knowing, skillful hands? To trust His process and timing to make us more beautiful, valuable, and usable vessels of His glory?

“Thank You, O Precious Potter, for counting us worth creating and molding, for caring for us so lovingly and freely with Your full attention on each and every one of us. Make us willing in Your hands and help us to trust You with the process of bringing us closer to You. Sometimes we can hurt so much, but help us to trust that any pain allowed in our lives serves to mold us to be more like You. To love, nurture, and understand others more like You do. So many are wounded and weary, Lord, but all power belongs to You. Remember each wounded spirit. Touch us with Your grace. Heal the deep layers of pain in each of us. Fill us with Your Spirit so that all will see that You are living in us! Make us pliable in Your All-knowing, Almighty hands and form us into vessels of Your grace and glory. Thank You, Jesus, for sacrificing Your life for us! Thank You for Your all-sufficient grace and complete forgiveness and unconditional love!”

“To me, the form and shape of my life look irreparable.
To the Potter?
He sees an opportunity to show off His best work.
All of it is redeemable.
The impossible and imperfect, the broken and beat up.
Nothing is wasted in His expert hands
as He remakes us into something beautiful.”

Michele Cushatt (I Am Book)

“The Potter’s Hand”
by Hillsong