There’s Hope To Be Found Because Our Story Is Bigger
If I close my eyes and try hard, I can almost smell her homemade chocolate chip cookies. The cookie jar never lacked for them. If ever it went empty, there was a backup of cookies in the freezer. I wonder why? Had there ever been a cookie crisis in our home? Were my Sis and I brats? Did Mom have to have a steady stream of cookies to keep her two little “monsters” in check?
I doubt either of those things were true. I think there’s a different reason Mom did the work of making so many cookies. She wanted to make sure that the people she loved had above and beyond what they needed.
Above and beyond.
Wow. What a gift. Not only were our basic needs met, Mom always went above and beyond.
It’s been over a year since I’ve written in this space. I’ve felt shy and insecure about returning. Kind of like the nervousness you have when the bi-annual family reunion rolls around and you haven’t seen distant cousins in forever. Will they still like you? Will you like them? Have they changed? You know you have. How on earth will the re-introduction go?
It’s been a year. But it’s been so much more, hasn’t it? It’s been THE year. The year none of us will forget in our lifetime.
THE YEAR OF FEAR. Disease and death. A pandemic gave good reason to be afraid.
THE YEAR OF GRIEF. Big things (loved ones, jobs, income) and little things (milestones, family gatherings, dream vacations) were lost.
THE YEAR OF ANGER. Justice. Inequality. Freedom. So. Much. Anger. Such a great divide.
In December of 2019, God more than whispered that I was to take a long social media fast. More than a month. Soon it was clear that it was to be more than three months. The seventh year–the year of jubilee kept jumping from the pages of Scripture. The end of 2019 marked my seventh year immersed in Social Ministry. All I could think was, “Seriously, Lord? After seven years, you’re telling me to quit?”
“Yes, for now.”
When January of 2020 rolled around, I believed that my questions (What the heck is the “year of jubilee anyway?”), doubts (“Did I really hear God right?”) and just plum lack of direction (“Now what?!) were going to be my greatest challenges. However, many of us reassessed what the word “challenge” looked like in 2020. It’s humbling when queries regarding life direction are exchanged for questions like “Does anybody have extra toilet paper?”
It is now 2021. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I still have questions and doubts. But I’d also be a liar if I didn’t share the glorious and encouraging truths 2020 gave birth to.
Our God is a God of “above and beyond.”
- He loves above and beyond.
- He provides above and beyond.
- His wisdom is above and beyond.
- His faithfulness is above and beyond.
- His plan is above and beyond.
The year 2020 taught me how much I had placed my joy, hope, and plans in my very temporary life.
God is So. Much. Bigger.
If you had crept into my private prayer bubbles, you would have noticed a shift:
- Less worry over formidable challenges exchanged for a deep sense of trust in the One who was in our midst.
- Less reliance on others (and myself) exchanged for the belief that God would guide our daily steps and lead where He saw fit.
- Less concern over here and now exchanged for a deep sense of the joy yet to come when we are truly home.
My Mom would have turned seventy-seven this month. Remembering her warm cookies makes me smile. So does remembering God’s many instances of “above and beyond” in 2020. But even more, I smile at what is literally above, and for now, certainly beyond what I can see, touch or smell.
This world is not our home. It can be beautiful. It can be glorious. But when the world is challenging, when it disappoints, when there are times that we don’t know if we can bear it, we don’t need to hang our heads. Instead, we can hang our hats on this truth:
“Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together.” John 14:1-3 The Voice
Because God loves warm cookies (at least I’m quite certain of it) He gives us another above and beyond. God knows we’re made of dust and that our temporal condition can feel oh so permanent. So, He grants us something that will sustain us until we’ve reached our ultimate home:
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 TPT
This world has no hold on us friends. Life is about so much more than this moment, this day, this country, this place in history. The picture is bigger. His story is our story and it is bigger and better than we can even imagine. Dare I say, above and beyond.
This wasn’t as hard as I imagined. I was nervous about “meeting the cousins” for no good reason. It’s good to be here. I’ve missed you.