1 Timothy 4:10 NIV
10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
I have decorative items all over my house that say “Hope.” Candle holders and wall hangings and carved wooden letters that sit on the piano. Hope is one of the first spiritual principles that I knowingly practiced when I was coming to understand my relationship with God. I had hope that I could come to believe that God was the loving, forgiving, justice-seeking, compassionate God my friends knew.
I never really had a problem with Jesus. I knew Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, sent to save the world. I knew Jesus loved me. It was the Father I had trouble with. In my head I knew that the problems I had with God weren’t really about God, but about the people who taught me about God. But I had a hard time getting my heart on board. It is said that the longest journey is from the head to the heart, and I can attest to that truth.
When I said I wasn’t sure that I believed all the good stuff people were telling me about God, someone said to me, “Can you believe that I believe?” Well, yes. I could do that. She was one of the most loving people I had ever met. She was convinced that prayer made a difference, and taught me what it meant to really pray. She taught me that instead of just reciting words that I had memorized I could simply speak to God as if God was a person sitting in front of me. I tried that, even though I wasn’t sure I believed. I had hope that what she told me would work. It wasn’t all that long before I started feeling as if someone was listening, and in a little while I began to believe.
No longer was God some old guy on a throne waiting for me to do something wrong. In my heart God was now someone who is real and involved in my life, willing to listen, helping me to make decisions, helping me to grow as a spiritual being. A living God, in whom I have placed my hope.
God of hope, thank you for putting the people in my life who taught me to know you as a loving and merciful God. Thank you for your patience with me as I came to believe in your forgiveness and compassion. May the hope I have for the transformation of our world into your beloved community stay with me for all of my days. Amen.