“I had never felt so desperate … Like I couldn’t go on … I thought my life was ending…” Winnie’s words were slow and real as she recounted her own mothering journey as a newcomer to Canada. She battled hopelessness for years while raising her baby girl named Hope.
As she told me her Hope story, she gazed up from behind tinted glasses and said, “When Noah built the ark, it didn’t just appear. God gave specific instructions about how to build the boat so it would float. God made us to float too – but we’ve got to pay attention to His instructions.”
The ark is a ground-shaking symbol of hope, restoration and protection. It evokes images of rounded rainbows that fill skies around the globe and speak hope to all who gaze on these rich rain-stained rays. The image of the rainbow, of Hope, transcends culture, color, language and worldview … it shatters biases and misunderstandings and unifies the hope-hungry world. It shouts fresh anticipation to human hearts from pole to pole, and is painted by the finger of God for this very purpose. Just as Noah’s boat was meant to float, we are all meant to live with hope.
There was another kind of Ark before Jesus came to set the world free, the Ark of the Covenant. This Ark carried the presence of Hope Himself … Warrior man David danced with rowdy passion at the sight of it.
The presence of God is the hope-sprouting goods we are meant to feast on and is available to all through Jesus. I was chomping bites of it as Winnie recounted the stories that have marked her mothering years. There were seasons of trials, uncertainty, sickness and fear – but in the midst of it – Winnie tells two defining moments when God subtly spoke Hope to her heart, once through a television sermon and another time through the mouth of another struggling mama. It was these two distinct moments when Winnie had absolute assurance that God’s presence was with her, and Love was on His way. Her circumstances had not changed, but Hope changed her heart and propelled her with energy and courage to walk on under the rainbow banner of God’s presence.
Love always hopes. (1 Cor 13:7) and God is love.
I saw God’s present-day Ark-Building instructions being carried out by two other mighty moms this week.
Rebecca is journeying through her first year of motherhood and told me about a key to contentment that unlocks joy. She said she avoids comparison chatter about her little one and overlooks the buzz about first year landmarks and baby accomplishments. She avoids reading content that may tempt her to evaluate her worth as a mom measured up or weighed against anyone else’s. She looks for baby health and lives in moments and finds life by following these instructions, “Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.” – Galatians 6:4
There isn’t room for thoughts of envy and joy to co-exist in a brain and feelings of greed and gladness cannot mix. Rebecca’s choice to heed God’s instructions keep her hope floating and I was inspired by the size of it in the midst of life-waves.
Janice, another mom, runs a school on a Saskatchewan First Nations Reserve. She daily cooks breakfast and lunch for many students, assists in the classroom and cares for several children at home.
As Janice told about the school and the fourteen-year journey of keeping it running in her community – the focus was not on the struggle … although she could choose to focus there … The thrust of her story centered on God’s provision and presence through it all. Janice follows God’s Hope-building instructions, “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and “Be strong and courageous, put your Hope in God” (Psalm 31:24).
Winnie, Rebecca and Janice have very different life experiences, but they have all built Hope rafts that bob with endurance and laugh with authentic joy. We were all made to float, and enjoy the thrill of brilliant blessings and persevere through unruly waters knowing that Hope is present and Love is on His way. Float on through life, my friends! Have a Hope-filled Mother’s Day!