Thursday, March 19, 2020

That Golden Thread of Hope

Today marks one week since the spiral of societal closure began.  It's been a weird seven days and I am sure it'll keep getting more weird.  Strange thoughts run through my mind at odd hours of the early morning, such as "if society continues to break down, who will be the new bourgeoisie?" and "should I expect to stand in line at 6 a.m. outside Fred Meyer like it's Black Friday so I can put toilet paper under our tree - ha!"  I am curious to see how this will affect the attitudes of young adults; will they become savers like those in the Depression?  Coronavirus moves all of us into uncharted waters.  We have never had to put so much of our near future under strain; our democratic principles, our unity, our patience, our modes of educating, working, and experiencing community; our commitment to being healthy and preserving life. 

In the midst of this crisis, yes - I feel stress from a dozen angles.  We are all facing grave risks; some more than others.  But there is another feeling that is beginning to build: hope.  Hope really has no explanation for why it's making a home in the middle of a mess.  Yet there it is, having its way in my heart.  I can remember one of the first times I experienced an inexplicable sense of hope.  I was 16 and a sophomore in high school.  There was a boy I liked and I often hung out around him at lunch.  One day there was a new girl and she liked him too.  She told me she was going to beat me up, so I laughed and said "okay, Zena Warrior Princess."  Big mistake!  She claimed to know what bus I rode and how in two days she'd get off on my stop and beat the crap out of me.

For 48 hours I had an eerie sense of dread and stress.  I felt a lack of control and disturbing anticipation of trouble, in a very small way similar to what the world feels right now with Coronavirus.  It was hard to assess the real risk and what would really happen with this bully.  And it was terrible waiting to find out.  What should I think?  In the place of a thought instead was a feeling.  The feeling had its own message.  I somehow knew there was more to who I was and more to my ultimate destiny.  But I couldn't explain why I felt this way inside.  I just did!  So, while my mind replayed a graphic fantasy of being smacked across the face in just 24 hours (oomph!), this other feeling grew stronger.  I felt so amazing, so new, and so excited.  It made me want to talk to my destiny, to "ultimate reality."  I had watched a movie about Jesus recently but wasn't sure if there was an all-attentive Being guiding the unseen. 

In spite of not really believing much about God, I found myself talking to God.  Every time I opened my mouth and tried it, my heart swelled.  Not only did I have the feeling that somehow I would be alright with this bully, but I wanted more.  I wanted a relationship with what was unseen.  I asked questions and got audible silence, nevertheless I was more and more thrilled on the inside.  I was hungry for this connection and I couldn't get enough.  I was feeling God respond to my words by changing my heart.

Maybe you're reading this right now and believe the same way I did then - unsure there is anything dwelling in the unseen.  In the middle of this extremely difficult and upsetting situation with Coronavirus, do you also feel something unexpected and unexplainable...?  Is it hope?  Can you explain why you would feel hope in an impending crisis?  Do you feel a stirring in your soul when you look into the sky?  Do you feel this momentum in your heart that there is something bigger going on, and it wants to have a relationship with you too?

I will tell you what I was discovering about God in sophomore year.  There is something separating us from God and they call it sin.  That word means that we don't live up to God's standards, even our own self-imposed ideas of right and wrong - we fail ourselves.  God knows we have this problem and sent His Son.  Jesus did everything right through His relationship with God.  Then, Jesus went to the cross to die there for us.  If He had only gone for one of us, it would have been enough to Jesus.  He went there not just for me, but for every person ever.  There really is a punishment; God gets mad when someone vulnerable gets hurt.  Well, God put all His rights for justice over sin not on us, but on His own Son.  When Jesus was on the cross, His blood poured out, He died, and He was buried.  But three days later, God raised Jesus back to the living.  God did that because Jesus doesn't deserve to die; He was innocent.  Many hundreds of people saw Him alive after seeing Him dead, and this is the proof that this religion is valid in the unseen realm.  And so there is nothing left to expect, except peace with God.  He is longing to have a connection with us.  Anyone who believes this has received peace with God.   

It says in the Bible, "To all who received Jesus, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."  John 1:12.

I didn't yet have a developed idea of ultimate reality, but I'll tell you the rest of the story -- that bully girl did get on my bus.  She rallied the kids to watch us fight.  I calmly told her I wasn't going to fight her.  When I stood up to get off, she stammered an excuse how she can't get into any more trouble or else her parole officer would put her in juvie.  She sat down quiet and gave up.  I went home and I never saw that girl again.

If it weren't for hope, I don't think I'd continue seeking a connection with an unseen Being.  I could feel it - so I followed it.  It is a golden thread that has woven through the most unpleasant fabric of my life.  I am trying my best to follow it today - day 7 - and there are worse days to come.  Yet, I am convinced surprising things will continue to happen!  

What are you facing because of Coronavirus - unemployment?  Cabin fever?  Physical fever?  Worries about retirement?  I'm sure the list is long!  Who knows when hand sanitizer will ever be restocked.  Yet I believe there's a purpose for the hope in your heart.  It's leading to something that for now is possibly unclear.  It's between you and God.  I hope you find peace in your connection with the unseen!

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