Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hope Allows

5:12am. Wednesday. January 30.

I woke up at 3:30am with my head and heart very actively engaged in processing life. Yesterday was a difficult day in our family as we processed news that played out completely different than what we had anticipated, even expected.

In this world of so much heartbreak and suffering, our news was not earth shattering, but it was still disappointing. Our sophomore, who has grown up with a baseball in one hand and a glove on the other, was given news that his place on this year's high school team is one of demotion, not promotion: 2nd string catcher on the 3rd of three teams. Basically, he received the last available slot for his position on the high school roster ... one step away from having been cut altogether.

Receiving his one-word text "JV2", my heart immediately dropped for him. After a series of questions and short replies between him and me, his astonishment and discouragement were evident. This was not the news he was expecting to hear as he stepped inside the coach's office yesterday morning. With an entire school day and first after school practice still ahead, those of us at home were left with more questions than answers (as I'm sure my sophomore was too).

How? What happened?

By the time I picked him up from school ten hours later, my heart was more concerned for how he was doing and feeling than figuring out the roster results. He was downcast, defeated, discouraged and angry. I know anger; it's how we process pain when we don't know what to do with it.

From the time he was two he carried a ball and glove around wherever he went. He watched complete baseball games on TV with his grandpa at age five. He could recite line-ups and player positions of his favorite team, the Angels, at six-years-old. He has lived, breathed and loved the purity of this game for all the years he can remember ... me too.

And then he's basically told that he was "kept in the program" because the new freshman coach highly recommended him; a coach that could only judge him from a few days of tryouts. His talent and skills and 18 months practicing under the watchful eyes of the Varsity coaches hadn't convinced them, but the new coach did. Talk about a blow to his dreams and his hopes and his reality.

His eyes told me all he felt without saying a word. Sliding into the front seat of our car, shoulders slumped and arms loaded with uniform colors he didn't think he'd have to wear again this year, his body language spoke even louder. My heart was breaking badly for my son and I didn't have the words that would make him feel better. Through conversation I could only help him process what neither of us really understood and pray that God would hold his heart and help him process through the pain of disappointment. Life is disappointing and none of us escape that. But gosh, it's so hard to watch one of your children live through it.

So ... this morning. My head. My heart. All those questions and residual heartache. I got up in the dark knowing I was sacrificing sleep for what was more important: I needed to hear from God--needed my soul settled and encouraged, and wanted something to give my sophomore to hold onto today; a piece of God's heart that reminded him to keep looking up, not out.

And then I read this:
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 [NLT]
When you think about the future, are you hopeful? Or do you struggle with a sense of dread? ... A close cousin to fear, dread steals the ability to enjoy ordinary life and makes people anxious about the future. Hope is the opposite of dread, and a close relative of faith. ... Hope allows us to leave our unanswered questions in God's hands; it empowers us to live in peace, and it enables us to believe the best about the days to come. You can have hope when you trust in God's love. He has the power to provide for you and lead you through every situation. [Joyce Meyer]
I don't read that verse and think its inference is that everything we hope for in [this] life will magically come true. This is not a "God in a genie in the bottle" type of verse. Considering our treasure should be placed in the eternal things, God does not promise that all our "earthly hopes" will come true.

My sophomore is not promised a career in baseball making millions of dollars playing for a major league team simply because he "hopes" for that. His hope to be a Sooner and play for OU is not written in stone in the Heavenlies (that we're aware of yet anyway). His hope of catching for his high school varsity team is even on shaky ground from where he sits today. But that doesn't mean he's been instructed to stop hoping; instead, he is to be secured by his faith in a God who holds his unanswered questions (for now) and encourages him to press on and in while depositing peace and power to pursue the days, weeks and months ahead trusting in God's plan that is still unfolding.

Hope is a precarious thing. It can feel like we're walking a tight-rope at times without a visible net below us. And disappointment is like a tremor to our foundation of faith. It shakes us, but doesn't have to shift us.

Hope allows us [the choice] to leave our unanswered questions in God's hands. The choice is ours ... always ours.

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