Every August the back-to-school feeling is bitter sweet. After a fast and fun summer, it’s sad to think of sending the kids back to school already, yet we’re all in need of a routine again. This August in particular our lives have been full of changes around our house; some good and some sad.
First for the good news, my husband has taken a new job in inventory management. The only drawback is that this job has a long commute. We tossed around the idea of moving, but with our son’s senior year we are staying put, adapting one day at a time and living with the tension of change. The kids have been very supportive of dad’s job change and commute. And with one more week off for summer break, they are getting their class schedules and supplies for back to school.
We’ve also entered the season of “the senior year” of our first child… starting to fill out college applications, and the list has just began.
The sad news has been the loss of a sweet friend from our church in a sudden accident; he leaves behind four young boys under the age of 9 and his wife.
In the midst of our new fall routine with a bit of chaos around our house, and then with the loss of our friend, I was struggling with a decision to leave town with some friends. I decided God knew my schedule before these events, and I sensed a peace to stay committed to one last get-away with my girlfriends to the mountains.
One of our reasons to get together was to celebrate the great accomplishment of one of my friends who completed her counseling degree. We desperately needed to connect after managing all of our families’ schedules. (We met through Moms In Touch International and prayed for each other’s children for years! We have always kept the bond – as the saying goes, those who pray together stay together.)
My counseling companion surprised the other two of us with a thank you gift for our support over the years. She graced us with two small brown paper bags stuffed with colorful tissue paper. I chose the one with the blue paper. Inside was a beautiful polished cobalt blue beaded necklace, and deep down in the bag was another simple green stone, with gently painted white font was the word “HOPE.”
I watched my other friend pull out her necklace, and her stone had painted on it “PEACE.” I immediately blurted, “I should have taken that bag! Boy, do I need peace right now with all that’s going on in my life!” (Isn’t that how we always are? Rarely do we see that the “gift” God gives us is what we really need. We think what we need is always something else… like we know what we need best?)
My gift giving friend simply said with a big smile granting forgiveness for my blunder, “Ah – no, that’s the one for you! When you have hope… then peace comes.”
I took my little rock of “HOPE” and put it in my pocket. I am a pocket person, so every time I put my hands in my pocket, I’d pull out my little rock to take a peek. With great big meaning, it was a sweet reminder: “Have HOPE”… “Look with hope for God in this season. He is in control.”
My little rock brought me comfort especially the day of my friend’s funeral. I had a peace I was where he’d want me to be… keeping the commitment to my dear friends, hiking in the mountains – for that is what he loved to do. I could care for his family and support them at a later date when plenty of support was around them now. I held on to hope that my friend was in heaven enjoying the presence of Jesus.
The gifts reminded me of the time when God sent a gift, a helper to Moses, in Aaron. When Moses met him in the desert, Moses fell to the ground and kissed his feet – in overwhelming gratitude. Is there someone whom God has sent to help you – to give you hope in the midst of the craziness of change, or tragedy? Bow to God in worship – give him thanks, and honor your friend in gratitude. It may be as simple as a gift like a tiny rock with a great-big message for them to carry in their pocket that says, “HOPE.” (Exodus 4:15, 27)
My little rock of “HOPE” with a great-big message has been a reminder – we live in community; we need each other. God sends helpers so we are not alone in the callings, or changes that God brings about in our lives. These bringers of hope are affirmations of God’s blessing and presence.
Have hope… look for hope. And expect God to bring hope through those around you. When you possess hope, then peace and contentment come in your heart too.
Lord…order my day so that I might find your hope. And through the search and finding of this hope…would you bring along peace so that I might have both to share with others.