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Hope On A Rope: Are you at the end of yours?

 

 

Are you at the END of your ROPE?

Centuries ago, when a lamb would stray from the flock, sometimes, its Shepherd would purposely maim it and then proceed to carry the lamb over his shoulders until it grew dependent on him.  Then, when it was healed, it would be allowed to walk on its own.  After that, it identified so strongly with its Shepherd that it would never stray from him or the flock again.  It knew that in its need, it was its Shepherd that would take care of it.

Though, at first, it would appear that the suffering that the Shepherd allowed the lamb to go through was painful; it was actually for its own good.  The HOPE that came out of it, was the lamb would never lose its way again and it learned to trust and have CONFIDENCE in the Shepherd’s ability to look after it.

A Year Like No Other

A few years ago, I was that lamb!  And, I suspect that there are a number of “lambs” today that at one time or another or maybe right now, have been broken, lost or have strayed from the flock and might need some help being led back to it.

It was the year of 2007-8.  I had a great deal of disappointment and sad events in my life.  When I look back on them, I’m not even sure how I kept going.  I was going through my 2nd divorce (double feelings of failure!); I had to walk away from my church of two years, and because of my divorce, move out of my home.  Worst of all, I lost my father to a massive heart attack, followed by a week later, having to put down my dog of twelve years, who I loved more than you can possibly know.   I know, it sounds like a bad country song!

I was at the end of my rope!

In fact, not only was I at the end of it, I could not see anything below me or in front of me to grab on to.  There were nights, when I felt like dying.  There were nights when I felt like giving up.  There were nights, when I felt like God had forgotten about me.  And yet, there was always something that got me through and it’s not tangible and it’s not visible.  It’s not even rational or logical: It is a thing, called HOPE.

I never lost HOPE and I’ll tell you why:

I can’t describe it well, except that it was like a little ember deep within me.  It is within all of us – this little flame – that never goes out as long as we have God.  And sometimes, when we are the sheep going along with the flock like we should be, we don’t even know it’s there.

It’s usually in those times, when we get lost and things seem dark and lonely that this little ember is rekindled and grows and burns.  I can honestly say that it has most often been in those moments of deep despair and loneliness that I can feel it the most.  This is why, though it is not fun and sometimes it even makes me angry, I understand that the pain we go through is worth it, simply because we are suddenly made more aware of this thing, called Hope.

We’ve all experienced it.  In a moment of despair or confusion, it can come upon us like a bright light or a warm feeling in the pit of our stomach and suddenly, amidst all of the chaos, we hear ourselves saying, “It IS going to be all right!  I can get through this!  This too shall pass!

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be some huge event that brings us hope and pulls out of our despair.  It can be in the little things we enjoy.   And that is exactly what HOPE is – if it were tangible at all, it would be what we hang on to.  It’s that knot at the END of our ROPE – that CONFIDENT hope that God will make it better, either by easing the pain or giving us the strength to keep going or perhaps, giving us something that we have lost.

And suddenly, amidst our pain, we become aware again of the things or people for whom we still have to live; the goals we still want to accomplish or the dreams we still envision!

Although I lost my marriage, my home, my church, my father and my dog in the span of one year, I gained a great deal.  I gained an unlimited, unshakable feeling of HOPE for my future.  And God is a God of RESTORATION and as the year passed; here is how I was also given physical, tangible hope:

I know for a fact that God not only gives us internal hope in our times of trouble, but he also gives back to us the things that are taken from us.  When my husband left, God gave me something wonderful to focus on – he helped me publish my first novel that year.  When I lost my house, a wonderful apartment in a building where a number of my friends lived became available.  When I had no money to pay for that apartment, God provided a full-time teaching job. When I was alone, He opened doors for me to make new friends.

When I lost my church, God led me to a new one.  When I lost my father, He surrounded me with my six siblings, my mother and my father’s youngest sister, who became and still is a wonderful friend to me and often I can hear my own father’s wisdom and kindness in her words to me and it comforts me greatly.   When I had to put my dog down, God gave me the strength and the peace amidst the sadness.  And of course, another little Maltese came along about two months later, who I named Francesca, because it means “Free one” and I still hold her on my lap as I write this!

In our times of trouble, here is what God wants for us:

God, the source of HOPE, will fill you completely with JOY and PEACE BECAUSE you TRUST in him.  Then you will overflow with CONFIDENT HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit.” {Romans 15:13}

If you are at the beginning, middle or the end of your rope, though you may not see the ground beneath or be able to grab hold of anything just yet, hang on a little while longer, because threaded through that rope, is God’s HOPE and he will NEVER let go of you, no matter how slack your grip.

I know this now, for sure:  That God loves us and though he does not guarantee we will not go through the rough waters and the fire, he does guarantee that He will not let us drown or get burnt and he will fan the flames of HOPE within us.

The truth is, if our lives were perfect and we were never maimed or in pain, we would never feel the need for our flock or for our Shepherd.  I have found, that it is in those very times of trouble, that we need both.

Being honest and open about our pain is to make us vulnerable and that’s okay.  We are vulnerable, because we are human.  And the other lambs that walk with us; also like to feel needed.  Never underestimate how your needs can make someone else feel like they have a purpose as well.  You may not be the only one who is at the end of your rope and in reaching out, you may be tying a knot in the end of that other person’s rope to help them hang on.

We are the lambs in God’s flock and through our pain, we grow to be strong, while we are resting on his broad shoulders.  God’s unlimited love and grace is the HOPE on my ROPE!