The Audacity of Hope

I love reading testimonies of victory–stories of ordinary people overcoming difficult odds. I often wonder, what enables one person to move forward when everything beats them down? Why do some rise from tragedy and heartbreak empowered and passionate while others slip into ever-increasing bitterness? I believe the answer to those questions are likely as diverse as the obstacles individuals overcome, although I wonder if one truth underlies them all–hope.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE by Edwina Cowgill

I like the word audacity.  It sounds…well, audacious!  Bold, daring, confident.  Like I want to be.  Like I should be because the Bible says the “righteous are as bold as a lion.”  I have been made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Thus, it stands to reason that I am righteous, I am BOLD!

I heard this term “the audacity of hope” at Convocation this past June.  The Patriarch was preaching and he mentioned the woman with the issue of blood. Matthew 9:20-21  “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.”  Patriarch Bates went on to say that she was desperately needy. (I guess so – after 12 years!) “Being desperately needy makes a person have audacity of hope.”

In our relationship to God, being desperately needy is a good thing.  And that’s good, because I find that I desperately need God 24/7.

The word ‘hope’ is found in the Bible 174 times. Here are just a few verses:

Job 11:18  “You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”

Psalm 31:24
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD”

Psalm 33:20
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.”

Psalm 71:14
“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Psalm 147:11
“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

Proverbs 23:18
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Isaiah 40:31
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

“HOPE” can be an acronym for:

H eart

O f

P eace  [and]

E xpectation

Think about it.  We can have a heart of peace and expectation in the face of all that is going on in today’s world.

Are you desperately needed?  Do you have the Audacity of Hope?

***

Edwina has been writing since her teenage years, but began seriously pursuing her writing career in 2008 by taking classes on writing through several websites and through American Christian Fiction Writers. She has written a number of articles, many of which have been published on various websites, including the Houston Examiner, F.A.I.T.H.: Following Always Intently Trusting Him; The Sara-Ministry.com, the Midsouth Diocese of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and several church newsletters. Her first published work in book form was “Kate’s Story: A Story of Redemption and Love,” presented in “Count It All Joy” an anthology of short stories from the members of Christian Writers United, Newnan, Georgia, in 2009. A second short story, “The Front Porch” was published in 2010 in “Skinned Knees and Skate Keys,” an anthology of short stories based on the writers’ childhood memories. Edwina publishes a blog three times a week; she is currently working on her first nonfiction book. To find out more about her, her ministry, and her writing, visit Musings of Edwina or contact her via email at edwina@edwinacowgill.com.

Let’s talk about this. I’ve often heard most of us can deal with almost anything for a time. Knowing things will one day get better, if not here on earth, then in heaven, can bring great comfort. How do you hang onto hope when things seem hopeless? Where does our ultimate hope lie? And how can we give hope to others?

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about clinging to the hope that doesn’t disappoint.

What are your favorite hope-infusing verses? Share them here so someone else in need of an encouraging word can gain peace and strength through God’s unchanging Word.

My Lists, My Calendars, My God

Ah, Edwina Cowgill is my kind of gal. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a list-making addict.  This isn’t always a bad thing. To the contrary–most days it’s a good thing. But it isn’t full-proof. I’ve taken more detours and round-abouts than I care to admit, have embarked on many a failed journey only to do an about face. Yet despite my sometimes faulty plans and my myriad of mistakes, God *will* perfect that which concerns me. Resting in this knowledge, I’m free to continue forward, knowing God will redirect me as necessary.

Today, Edwina Cowgill shares her thoughts on list-making and God’s list-changing. 🙂

My Lists, My Calendars, My God by Edwina Cowgill

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I belong to a local nonfiction writers group that meets the first and third Monday evening of each month. We’ve met at various places and recently we met at my house. The goal of each meeting is to write, write, and write! At this particular meeting, we talked, talked, and talked! We discussed writing topics, we critiqued stories that members had brought and shared writing information we had learned. We didn’t write a single word. And that’s okay. Sometimes a detour from the agenda is what we need.

This makes me think of how God changes our “agenda.” I am a Type A personality and I live by my lists and my calendars. I cannot function without my calendars. Perhaps that’s why I have a calendar on my desk at home, one at work, and one on my trusty Blackberry! Before the holidays arrive, I’m writing out shopping lists, planning and writing menus, a list of serving dishes to be used and what food will be served in what dish, the Christmas card list, the Christmas gift list. You name a holiday list, and I can guarantee I either use said list now or have used it in the past.

My every day is usually controlled by my to-do lists both at work and at home. I keep a “rolling to-do” list that is broken down further into tasks, phone calls to make, computer work and other.

And because I’m Type A, I go absolutely nuts when I’m pulled away from my list(s) to do something that is not on said lists. (Long, heavy sigh.) God excels in pulling me away. Because I am focused and “list-driven” there have been times when God had to use major, attention-grabbing methods to get my eyes off of the task at hand and back on Him. After several of these instances, it occurred to me that God didn’t care whether or not I had a list. He cared about whether or not I was doing His will at that moment.

One of the writers attending the meeting Monday night addressed this issue. “I don’t make to-do lists,” she said. “When I get up in the morning, I ask God what He wants me to do first. When I finish that task, I sit down. I quiet myself before God and I ask Him what He wants me to do next. I do this all through the day until it’s time to go to bed. This way I am assured of always doing what God wants me to do.”

By the time she finished speaking, I was going into withdrawal.  Stop using lists? No calendar? I began to hyperventilate. Okay. Easy girl. Deep breath. Deep breath. In and out. There you go. All better, now? Just because she schedules her day that way, doesn’t mean I have to do it the same way. Does it?

After the ladies left, I thought back over the conversation. If I agree with Psalm 118:24 that states “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” and I do, it makes sense to also acknowledge Psalm 31:15a “My times are in your hands.” Am I so ignorant to think that relying on God (rather than lists) to order my day would cause me to have an unsuccessful day? God has my (and yours) best interests at heart. It is humanly impossible for me to complete what’s on my to-do list every day. “But with God all things are possible.” Does that mean he’ll help me conquer my to-do list every day? No. It means that I will accomplish that which He directs me to do.

How do you plan your day? Lists, calendars, Blackberry, iPad? Or perhaps you’re a “panster.” You “fly by the seat of your pants” moving forth with no plan. Or maybe you’re like my writer friend who always consults God on what to do before starting any task.

When I first wrote this blog in November, I challenged myself to ask God every morning what He wants me to do first. And I’ll do that first; when that is completed, I’ll ask him what’s next. I will admit that I’ve not always been successful. There are days that seem to fly by so fast, they never make a blip on my radar. But on the days when I do start out by asking God what He wants me to do, I have found that the day is much more peaceful and even more productive than days I live by my lists.

Abba Father, Help us to seek You early in the morning, to determine what You would have us to do on that particular day. Then, Father, help us to step forth boldly in Your boldness and grace to do that which You call us to do every day. May we be Your light and Your life in this dying world. In the matchless name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Edwina Cowgill  is a Christian whose desire is to “Minister the Heart of God to the Hearts of Women.” She hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling and is a Certified Behavioral Counselor, specializing in inner healing. She is a writer, with a short story published in 2009 and another in 2010. Currently, she’s in the beginning stages of writing my first non-fiction. Visit her online at Musings of Edwina and Monarch Ministries.

And remember, if you loved today’s post as much as I did and want to see it make it to my top 3 of 2011, FB share it, “like” it, tweet it, and/or leave a comment.

And happy Thursday!