I’ve been reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Learning to Walk in the Dark. She mentions that Abraham was “waiting so long [on God’s promise] that hope was little more than a habit”. That phrase jumped off the page and grabbed me by the nose. (grabbing by the nose, incidentally, is what I do when my horse is acting up and needs some firm guidance seeing as how a horse’s nose is very sensitive)
“Waiting so long that hope was little more than a habit”. Can hope be a habit? Is hope a habit for me? What does it look like for hope to be a habit in the mundane life of the every day? These are questions that are haunting me. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have answers for these bold questions with subtle suggestions.
You see it suggests to me that one should have hope as a habit. It whispers that no matter what my circumstance, hope should be a constant. Is that even possible though?!? And these questions are also bold in that they dare to challenge me to face the presence of hope or the lack thereof in where I am currently. To be honest, I’d much rather not face it.
You see I think Hope can be painfully poignant at times and also refreshingly sweet at other times. What do you do with the painful Hope that pierces your soul? It’s pretty tempting to retreat and hide one’s soul in the dark recesses of relative safety but yet in that safety lies suffocating death. Because a soul without Hope is a soul that is slowly losing its life-giving oxygen.
You ask, what is Hope? Hope is the joy of the morning after the darkest night; Hope is the constant Presence of the Creator of our souls; Hope is the one-step-at-a-time forward journey of the weary soul. Hope is the proffered hug of forgiveness; Hope is the out-stretched hand to help you stand back up again; Hope is the calming whispers of the Lover of your soul; Hope is the gentle prompts of the Spirit in a desperate time. Hope is the nuzzle of your horse’s soft muzzle; Hope is the quick lick of your dog’s rough tongue; Hope is the splash of cold water on hot, dusty faces; Hope is the earnest prayer of a friend when the soul has lost its focus. Hope is the little magic moments of every day, the sunrise of mercy dawning on your soul every morning, the rhythm of grace in every heartbeat, the gift of compassion with every breath that you take.
You might also ask “What is hope as a habit”? My friend, I’m not sure I can answer that. I think Hope as a habit is a tentative exercise at first that with time may build muscle into being a strong safeguard for one’s soul. Hope as a habit may well be at times frustratingly elusive but at other times maddeningly present. Sometimes, if you are like me, you will rage at the audacity of Hope to show up in some of the most painful moments. As one of my friends told me, “Rage away and heal on, my friend”. In other words, sometimes it’s okay to want to take Hope by the throat and choke it out of your life, but in the end, Hope always persists as long as your soul stays tuned to God. Hope as a habit is always your soul’s redemption in every circumstance. Hope as a habit keeps your soul open to Life and the Giver of Life. Hope as a habit is hard, no doubt about it, but hope as a habit is also rewarding, don’t lose sight of that. When all else goes dark, when all else goes terribly awry, hang on to the audacity of Hope, the tenaciousness of Hope in the darkest corner.
Hope summed up in one word, is this: JESUS. Dear soul, there is no other Hope. You can look for it in all the wrong places, but true Hope is only found in Jesus. Hang on to Hope, my friend. The sun will shine after the storm, the joy will permeate the sorrow, and in time your soul will dance hand in hand with Hope once again.
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