Are you sure?
On the one hand there are some things that I am, absolutely, sure about… I’m absolutely sure that I belong to God and that I can call him ‘Abba’. I’m sure that he is bigger, more powerful, more beautiful, more just, more gracious and more loving than I or anyone else can imagine. I’m sure that I although I am one of the millions that he loves fiercely, that his love is in no way diluted, and that I am precious to him. I’m so sure of his forgiveness and grace that I know I can lean back into them and believe that I am accepted in spite of my past, present and future mess-ups.
It doesn’t take much to leave me feeling like this daisy, adrift on the ocean. A few mistakes, someone angry, a stinking cold, a friend leaving the country. All that ‘sure-ness’ can melt into weariness, shaken-up-ness and not-sure-I-can -hear-God-ness in a matter of days.
So when I came to God on tuesday morning to ask him for a picture to put in a postcard for today, all I could see was this daisy, floating on the ocean.
Two things are true about it:
One- the daisy is tossed about, but not sinking. It’s not sinking because its petals are wide open, and its petals are open because it’s facing into the light and the warmth of the sun.
Two – even though it’s affected, pulled up and down and this way and that by the movement around it, this tiny daisy is anchored, deep, deep down below the waves, into something solid. The rope that ties it is slack so that there is length to cope with the rise and fall of the waves and tides, but it’s strong.
It was only after I’d painted this anchored daisy that I read the verse from Hebrews:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure, It enters the inner sanctuary, behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf.
It’s not the only place I’ve heard about hope recently. On yesterday’s news the newly-elected prime minster of Greece claimed that this week’s election outcome was a ‘victory for hope’. Many, many people there are hoping for an easier future.
Hope is extraordinarily powerful thing, and when that hope is shown to be false it can be utterly crushing. Unfortunately, when you’re being tossed about by the waves having your hope-rope anchored to anything that is in this world is just like being anchored to another set of waves, there’s no guarantee of stability coming.
The hope that the Bible holds out to us is in a different league altogether. As Hebrews tells us, it is anchored not in this world, but on the other side of the curtain, in the place where Jesus has gone ahead of us, in the presence of God.
It’s a mystery, but it’s a bit like my anchored daisy. Deep, deep, down and beyond it is fixed irrevocably to something other than the ocean. Something solid and unmoveable, something which contains the ocean itself.
Here and there, in places, a gift of faith solidifies that hope into sureness. And as I’ve painted and pondered I’ve realised that this shaken-ness, the tiredness from the wind and the waves doesn’t make me ‘not sure’. It just reminds me that sure-ness is not a surface feeling. It goes much, much deeper than that: Sure-ness is hope soaked in faith, over and over until that hope has become somehow more real than the ‘reality’ of the waves, and is anchoring my heart way beyond this particular storm, and into God himself.
However you are currently being shaken, whatever storm you are living through, or watching people close to you live through, try keep your face turned towards Jesus. Then your petals will stay warm and open and you you will be able to rest on the surface of the waves. Remind yourself often of the hope that you have as a child of God, and then ask him for the gift of faith, so that your hope become strong and solid, and then whatever happens, you will still be able to say, ‘I am sure’.