Thursday, June 26, 2014

June Hope Chest- Got Hope? by Dana Best

How much of our lives are spent “hoping” for something?   We cling to hope because without it, we fear change will never happen.  I spent 14 years “hoping” my husband would come to know the Lord.  Here is our story.
I grew up in a Christian home, but really didn’t know the Lord.  We went to church and prayed before holiday meals, but I didn’t really understand the concept of having a relationship with Christ.  I started going to church every Sunday with a friend of mine when I was in High School and slowly started to understand what that meant.  
After my first year of college, I met my husband.  Since I would come home from school and attend church on Sunday, he would go with me.  I wasn’t mature enough in my faith to ask some of the really tough questions I should have asked when we decided to get married.  I just assumed because he was sitting next to me in that pew, he was on the same page.  After our first year of marriage, he made it clear that he did not believe in God.  I don’t think he intentionally was deceiving me at that time in our lives.  I just never asked and the more time he spent in church, the less he wanted to be there.  Not strong enough to go alone, I gradually left the church too. 
Then one day, God spoke.  
I love how God works.  He spoke to me through a burning restaurant.  (Hey, if he can speak to Moses through a burning bush, then speaking to me through a burning restaurant isn’t that crazy.)  We had just lost our restaurant to a fire.  The same restaurant I prayed daily that God would just take away because I physically, mentally, and financially couldn’t handle the stress.  
And He did.  Gone.  Not a trace.  I got myself back to church.  
The first few weeks I braved it alone.  I sat in the back. Just kept to myself.  It just felt good to worship.  Really worship….Sing loudly, hands raised.  My soul was longing for this.  I had had such an amazing reminder of how much my God loved me.  
After a few weeks,my husband joined me.  He would attend for a while, then stop.  Each week I sat hoping something in the message would touch him.  Nothing did.  In fact, the more he went, the more adamant he was that there was no God.
After many years of the off and on attendance, such resentment built in my heart.  I would sit there alone and see a couple holding hands and singing.  Or a husband putting his arm around his wife during the service and it would feel like a dagger in my heart.  I kept telling myself that it is fine.  I just need to fill this empty part of my heart with God.  All I need is Him, right?
  Easier said than done.    
After so many years, where hope should have been, envy took over.  I longed to share Christ’s love with my husband, pray together, serve together like all the other couples at church.  I prayed for his salvation and had him on more prayer lists than I could count.  I remember hitting my knees and asking God, “What more can I do?”
It was in that pitiful moment when hope had completely left me that I got clarity.  
I needed to stop hoping for his salvation.  Crazy, I know.  I needed to get out of the way and put my hope in the Lord who knows what is best for me.  He knows what I need.  Stop hoping for things I want to happen and get out of the way for God to do his work.  So I did.  I decided that my husband’s salvation was up to the Holy Spirit, not me.  I was accountable for myself and my children. 

So I joined a life group, went on a mission trip, and just soaked in as much Jesus as I could. I decided to be Jesus’ love to my husband no matter what.  Even if that meant he were to never know the Lord.  I surrendered to God’s will for my husband.  
To my surprise, my husband started coming to our Life Group (of course with the pretense that he “didn’t want to be anyone’s project or for people to try and save him.”  I said, “of course not, just come and make some friends.”).   That year God hand-picked some really amazing men to pour into him.  They answered every question.  Never judged him.  He slowly came back to church and eventually signed up for a Men’s Retreat. It was on that retreat weekend my husband came to Christ.  I truly was shocked.  He even decided to get baptized the following month!

When we stop hoping for the things we think we want and place our hope in Jesus, he knows exactly what we need and when we need it.  His timing is perfect.
So I ask you…Got hope?  If so, is it in the things you think you want or in Jesus who knows what you need?

Verses that helped me:
Psalm 147:11  “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their HOPE in his unfailing love"
1 Peter 3:1-2  “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

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