“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” Romans 15:13 Amplified Bible
November is a special month in my life containing both my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. I met and fell in love with my wife in high school. You might say we spent a lot of time growing up together, learning the power and importance of commitment.
We faced our fair share of challenges understanding how there was much to learn and know about each other. This was probably the greatest surprise after dating for nearly six years, well a surprise for me, anyway! I was confident I knew everything about what she liked, who she was, what she wanted from life, her goals, how she felt about church, God, and religion. I discovered I knew next to nothing because much of what I knew was only revealed on the surface.
And here we are preparing to celebrate our another anniversary and I am still discovering hidden depths revealed in many ways, at various times. I have found that what we know about most people is limited to what they are willing to give. Sure, there is an intuitive knowledge that allows us some insights into the psyche of another person. However, it is information that can be easily misread and even easier to abuse. We are not mind readers no matter how often we think we know what is in another person’s mind.
Too often we choose to rely on something no one is capable of doing, the elusive gift of Mind Reading. About now a majority of those reading are telling the “page” they are not mind readers, nor do they believe mind reading is something they regularly practice. Yet, consider how often you believe you know what someone is thinking and act upon that assumption only to find out later you had it completely wrong! As a result, you face the consequences you could have easily avoided by truly understanding you and I are not mind readers. In reality, not being able to read minds is an amazing blessing just as is joy and peace.
Ask yourself this question, how much time during the day is spent in being joyful and peace-filled vs. succumbing to the temptation of being a mind reader? How does the answer to the question reveal the dynamics of your relationships?
Many of us turn to mind reading when it comes to God. We believe we know exactly who He is, how He responds, and what motivates Him in the lives of others. We may be extremely confident in how He will deal with the heathens, gentiles, unbelievers, etc. Very few of us seem to take Him at His word when He describes Himself simply and powerfully as “I Am”. God tells us He is love, mercy, forgiving, intimate, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, passionate, the author and finisher of our faith, the Creator, the One who recreates, and the list goes on.
Unfortunately, as mind readers we miss the parts of God’s mind which are the most important. Instead, we settle for something that appears to be a relationship with God, when in actuality it is nothing more than the egocentric lie of believing we have the right to be God.
There is so much missed when we sacrifice relationships on the altar of being right—which is more often the case than sacrificing our “rightness” on the altar of being wrong! A few years ago I stumbled over a truth simply stated as, “You can be right all by yourself”. This is not to be misconstrued as saying truth should be hidden. Truth can be offered without the arrogance of being right! As a Christian, my example of this is Jesus.
The crowds flocked to hear Him speak because His truth lacked arrogance, offering instead hope, joy, and peace. His words were like the spray that comes from Yosemite Falls on a hot summer day, refreshing and soothing, and encouraging the hiker to continue on their way. In the same way, the words of Jesus encourage us, refresh, and soothe as we continue our journey in the grace of God. There is so much more to know about Him, and He longs for us to know all. Jesus said to His disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father.
We’ve been given the opportunity to view God through the eyes of the Son, receiving a new and fresh picture of how God defines Himself. And what I experience in my relationship with God is identified in part by the verse quoted at the beginning of this post. I may become discouraged, even depressed, but my hope never disappears. This means God continues to build joy and peace in my life.
Hope in life is not about the detours, the sidetracks, or even the complete stops one may discover in their journey of grace. It is about the reality of God’s Grace in that life and the knowledge of that truth. It’s about the relationship that provides unlimited opportunities to find hidden depths in the God who created each of us in love.
More than forty years since the beginning of our journey, I continue to learn new and amazing things about my wife, the one God created to complete me. This means I am learning new and amazing things about myself. Only a few will know how difficult it is for me to write the following sentence. I struggle with being able to value myself, so understanding that God reveals the Wonderful in my wife leads me to accept the Wonderful in myself and in others. And in my case it all begins with the hope, joy, and peace bubbling over in my life, and made possible by the “God of my hope…”.
“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” Psalm 16:11 The Voice