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There are a few phrases and words I use every day in my life. At work and home, I catch myself saying “hope” a lot. As I try to keep everyone thinking positively, “I hope so” or “hopefully” seem to roll off my tongue.
As I write this, though, our parsonage fridge decided to go on sabbatical. And this morning, my spouse was busy getting ready for a funeral he was leading. Since I could tell that baking soda would not conquer the smells coming from the fridge, it was time to say “adios” to the trash and haul it to the nearby dump.
Where I serve, folks take their trash to the dump. With the offending kitchen smells, I decided to load up the trash with my two kids, who were pinching their noses and still in their pajamas. The dump where we take this skunk-scented trash is about five minutes away. The dump is closed on Wednesdays, a fact I forgot until I saw the locked metal gates and read the sign. I turned the car around and drove back to the church. Tossing the spoiled contents of the fridge into the church dumpster, I smiled. I played the Carpenters’ song, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” for a good laugh on the drive back.
Praise God; the rest of the day will go differently. My days are not dictated by what goes well and what doesn’t. The Romans 15:13 scripture is a much-needed word, not just on Sundays but also in my everyday life. I give thanks for this blessing Paul offers to the church in Rome. It’s a benediction that speaks to me as a mandate to laugh in the face of ordinary but challenging moments.
This blessing calls me to think clearly and strategize about the direction of my life, even when daily plans like breakfast get altered. With no milk for cereal this morning, I text staff at church to see if anyone else would like a biscuit. In my southern Mary Antoinette moment, I declare “biscuits for all.” In other words, “it’s Bo time.”
As pastors, we know time is precious. We long to use our days to glorify God and point people back to our God of hope, who gives us joy and peace. This hope keeps us believing because it is a never-failing love for us. God’s hope is defiant in giving us joy in the strangest of moments.
Read Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope..
Reflect: Dear sisters, on good days and days when your fridge decides to imitate the summer weather, may you receive and reflect on Paul’s benediction. In what ways do these words impact your spirit of hope in times of everyday adversity? Where do you find joy in the strangest of moments?
Take Action: How might this blessing help you reframe the challenges you face? How might the Holy Spirit convict you to lead others to focus on living responsively to the Almighty God we worship, our God of hope? Fake it til you make it. Share joy and God’s hope even when you don’t feel it. God has a way of using us in spite of ourselves.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Laura Dunlap, pastor at Walnut Grove UMC in Hurdle Mills, for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements.