Against the odds
I believe in the power of hope.
I believe in the wonder of love.
I believe in the miracle of grace.
I believe in the freedom that forgiveness provides.
I believe that new life and new love are possible.
Against the odds.
Why do I believe in all of those things? Because I have seen them in action. I saw the effects of hope, love, grace, and forgiveness last week when Kristiana and I were on our road trip up north.
Hope granted two lovers and their children a chance at a new life together, a new marriage, a beautifully blended family, and a joint battle against stage 4 breast cancer. Hope gave - and continues to give - confused and sometimes despairing parents the strength to love their confused and sometimes despairing daughters.
Love granted another couple second, third, and fourth chances at reconciliation after as many broken moments in their marriage. Love brought aunts, uncles, and cousins together to celebrate a college graduation.
Grace welcomed the wandering spouse back home after a public and painful scandal. Grace welcomes the one who caused a betrayal back into the circle of friendship.
Forgiveness covers a multitude of sins, failures, abandonments, and sorrows. It doesn't erase them from memory, but it releases both the one wronged and the one in the wrong from the prison of bitterness and the desire for retribution.
I saw all of this and infinitely more with my own two weak eyes and felt them with my infinitely strengthened heart.
Hope keeps me hungry for, searching for, and attentive to signs of love, grace, and forgiveness in the face of all my doubts. I look into, under, around, behind, and at the most ordinary moments in order to sniff out, dig up, rejoice over, and cling to the hope that so often eludes me. In comparison with the most blatant reasons to lose hope - tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, fires, wars, divorce, prolonged unemployment, deadbeat fatherhood, alcoholism, illness, starvation, poverty, greed, etc, etc, etc - the quiet moments of peaceful conversations with my children, the quotidian mysteries of oatmeal and coffee for breakfast while the morning's cool air wafts in through the kitchen along with the sounds of birdsong, the simple wonder of conversations with caring, community minded neighbors while walking my tiny, little dog, rebuild my hope, strengthen my weakened soul-knees, and fortify me for another day.
On the morning of yet another scorchingly hot day in North Carolina,
sitting in the darkness of our homeschool room talking to my children,
sipping my hot, sweet, minty coffee concoction,
and later when I will undoubtedly be
folding laundry, dusting, washing pots and pans,
looking at photos from the most recent trip and the ones that came before,
listening to phone messages, reading facebook messages,
working up a lather in cardio funk class,
then standing under the cleansing and cool waters of our shower,
reflecting on the wonder, the agony, the joy, the shocking depravity,
the abundance, the surprises, the hope, the grace, the love, the forgiveness,
all of which make up this life I live, this life that defies so many odds,
I will be careful and deliberate in giving thanks to God for all that has been.
All that is.
All that is yet to come.
Against all odds, in spite of so many reasons to look the other way,
I look up with hope.
I look up with joy.
I look up with peace.
And I say, "Thanks be to God."
And thank you too, all who come to this page to read the story of my life's journey.
Thank you too.