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There is Hope

Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

Matthew 28:20 "Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Romans 8:38-39 "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

My daughter Sydney now works at an afterschool program at one of the local elementary schools. Basically, it is large group babysitting.

She often gets to be with the youngest grade level – kindergarten. She loves it and it is exhausting at the same time. She comes home with some interesting stories, to say the least. For example, at least one kid does not understand why the game of 4 square cannot have 5 players - especially when the line to play is long and he doesn’t want to wait his turn. The child might have even argued with Sydney to the point of pitching a small (or perhaps not so small) temper tantrum.

Listening to her share her stories, I recalled about 20 plus years ago when as a poor graduate student, I worked in the afterschool program at Chapman Elementary School. The school isn’t even in existence anymore. It was that long ago.

As the newbie I had to supervise the kindergarten group quite often.

I remember once my kindergarten group finished watching a movie (on a videotape if you remember those) and we were heading out to the playground. Being 5-year-old kids, they had all taken off their shoes. This meant that they all needed help putting them back on and especially getting them tied. As I went from kid to kid helping, I noticed one little boy struggling to put on his boots. So, I told him to stop messing around and get them on.

When I finished with all the other kids, he still did not have his boots on. He was struggling.

I went over to help. We pushed and pulled, and the boots really didn’t want to go on. By the time the second boot was finally on, we had worked up a sweat. As he stood up, I looked and realized they were on the wrong feet.

It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. Somehow, I managed to keep my cool as together we worked to get the boots back on — this time on the right feet.

After we finished, he announced, “These aren’t my boots.” Biting my tongue, I quickly yanked one off and then I asked whose boots they were.

He said, “They’re my brother’s old boots. My mom made me wear them.”

Holding back my frustration I mustered up the grace to wrestle the boot on his foot again.

“Ok buddy, let’s go outside,” I said through a clenched jaw.

“I need to put on my gloves,” he said.

“Well, where are they,” I asked.

He said, “I stuffed them in the toes of my boots.”

Sometimes we all need some help…

In the scriptures I referenced above, we are reminded that help is available to us — from both the people around us and from God.

But it often requires us to slow down and perhaps even stop. Taking the time to observe what is going on, by asking questions and listening for answers. It is then we can get to work.

When we don’t do this, we can get incorrect ideas and end up making a mess of thing. Sometimes we hurt others and sometimes we hurt ourselves.

And often we focus so much on our assumptions we miss the truth that is right in front of us.

Or we choose to flat out ignore the signs that are placed in front of us. Sometimes we ignore them so long that we don’t even recognize them anymore.

I have talked with a lot of folks who go to get a physical and discover they have a blockage (or five) in the blood vessels around their heart. I am always amazed when they say that after the angioplasty or even bypass surgery, they feel so much better.

They didn’t realize how bad they had been feeling until someone pointed it out and they got help.

In the coming days I will be taking time to slow down and heal my mind, body, and soul. It took a few “incidents” and some caring folks and a stubborn doctor to get me on the track to being whole again.

It was hard to admit I needed help. I had gotten so used to wearing boots with gloves in them that they seemed natural.

But I am told that that is not how boots fit. So, I am getting help to find the right size shoes for my feet. It means being willing to accept help from others, being honest with myself and my God, taking time to listen and discern and lean into the discomfort, and relying on the grace of God.

Perhaps you or others you know need to slow down and listen for God’s word for you. Perhaps you or someone you love needs a word of comfort and hope. And perhaps you or someone you love needs to remember the promise of Jesus to be with us in both days of darkness and of light.

Fortunately as Paul reminds us – “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thanks be to God through Jesus there is hope. And thanks be to God that Jesus sends that hope so often through others. May we be willing to accept that hope and may we be willing to share it because friends I promise you there are those in your life that need to hear it.

Alleluia Amen.

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