In line in front of me, a commonplace coffee shop event takes place. Customers ahead progress; I stand still- obstructed by an awe inspired four-year-old with hands, nose, and lips glued to the glass covered pastry case. He presses his face harder against the glass, as if increased proximity to the pastries and a harder gaze results in his desire satisfied. Then with a “Sorry” to me, and a “Come on, Aiden” to the little one, his mother pulls him forward, his left hand leaving a fingerprint streak along the pane. The streak draws my eye to surrounding smudge marks on the glass, all toddler height, evidence of the hopes of Aiden’s peers who went before him that day.
And I think, “Children just have no qualms about leaving traces of their hope wherever they tread.” Then, I wonder, “When did I unlearn that shameless, public declaration of my hope- that clarity of communication about what I desired? Was it when I realized that those older people around me weren’t putting their noses on the pane? Or was it when I learned that the focus of my gaze and relentless requests didn’t necessarily correlate to my hopes being realized? How did I decide that asking sparingly increased my odds of receiving? That the best way to avoid disappointment in a world of inconsistent supply was to decrease my demand? ”
Somewhere along my childhood development spectrum, these lessons were affirmed.
Unfortunately, these lessons in the economics of hope don’t translate to my Father’s economy. Instead, when I look at the market laws of His kingdom, I see this:
• “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matt 4
• “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matt 5
• “Pray then like this: Father… Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”
• “The kingdom of Heaven…is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14
• “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11
• “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11
So, I see a few economic laws at work here. First, I see that my soul demands (hopes for) the word of God and the righteousness, peace and joy of His Spirit. I see that the supply of these is endless. I find that the transaction involves asking and desiring; and my currency is belief. What is belief? Being sure of what I hope for.
But how am I to be sure of what I hope for when the ask, seek, and believe didn’t lead to fulfilled hopes in the past? When my heart is sick, like Solomom’s, from hope disappointed? First, I remember the second part of that Proverb: a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. And I eat from that tree of life, remembering where God has opened His hand to satisfy my desires. Second, I remember what He has done for my friends. Because what’s been done for them has been done for me- we’re family. And finally, I just hope again. Because, I know this: my hope will never put me to shame! How? Because of His love. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that the love of God has been poured out in my heart through his Spirit that He gave to me. And this is his answer for how our hope is never put to shame: His love (Romans 5:4).
His love, unchanging, results in my hope unchanged- unadjusted to the norms of those around me or the disappointments of the past. My hope is unaware of those watching me. It keeps no ledger of the disappointments of my past. My hope doesn’t settle for a counterfeit reward. My hope insists on receiving my desire- the Word of God and His steadfast Love: in one word, Jesus.
And so, I’ll press my fingers, nose, and lips against my Father’s pastry case! I’ll leave traces of my hope behind me, leading others to the treasures I’ve been longing for. Unashamed, I’ll wear my hope on my sleeve. And my hope reads: Jesus!
By Renae Arndt, Prayer and Worship Director