Where does time go? Seriously, how does 11 years just fly by like it is only one trip around the sun? Yesterday marked 11 years since I got off of the plane from Toronto after fleeing the states when I left my home and most of my belongings. That was the safest place for me. But when it came time to fly home I was ready to move on with life. As I walked through customs and out the double doors of that airport, the warm February Tampa air hit me. I was home. At least near home anyway. Something inside of me clicked—and the monsters that awaited me on the outside of that airport would not, at least for awhile, phase me.
I often wonder what “happened” inside of me that made me leave. I wonder why I am not part of the statistic that a victim of domestic violence will go back on average 7 times before finally leaving, if alive that long. I wonder what made me make the decision to move to Clearwater, or what made me go to that big church on the corner, or even get up every morning in those early days. But I don’t wonder those things very long. Somewhere along the line, somebody reminded me of my Hope.
This morning, I woke up to the news of Billy Graham’s passing. As I watched the nonstop coverage, I thought only one thing: “that man was an ambassador of Hope”. He preached the ultimate Hope to hundreds of thousands of people over his long life; and while not so active in the latter years, even his presence on this planet made life seem a little “better”. Certainly, if Billy Graham could be used by God in, can’t I? Billy Graham’s God did not run out on Hope when it was time for my dance card to be stamped. My mind then began to visit places such as this:
–“Um, are we the grown ups now?”
–“Who will be Billy Graham?”
–“Who will be an ambassador or Hope?”
And just like that a Bible verse I memorized in Sunday school came to mind:
“And the Lord said, ‘Who will I send, and who will go for us’. Then said I, here am I, send me” Is 6:9
Now, I know that I am no Billy Graham, but Billy Graham and I share the same God, with the same Hope of a painless eternal life, and the same Hope to live in a world that can be described as nothing short of heart shattering.
What if, on social media, we all sought out ways to bring Hope to those who need it? I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media, and I often think I am wasting time (and most the time I am) but then there are these moments. Moments when you get to bring a smile to somebody’s face just because you cared enough to remind them of the Hope that is within them. What if? What if in real interactions (if we even have those anymore) we did the same? What if we put our phones down, what if we shut our laptops, what if we put our Kindle’s down, what if we put our PRIDE down and looked for ways to bring Hope to so many that need it? What if?
I can tell you the answer to that question. Somebody, maybe somebody like the early days me, will cling to that Hope and their life will be changed forever. Because that is what Hope does. Hope tells you that there are all the tomorrow’s you are ever supposed to get, and the one that you are not supposed to get is better anyway. Hope says “just because it was that way then doesn’t mean it is that way now”. Hope is a soothing balm to hearts held together by tape and superglue. What I was given in the way of practical friendships altered the course of my life forever. Those early years were hard, but I had people, I had a VILLAGE of people. I could look into the eyes of these people and see that they had a light that I wanted. And they just stayed. So, as I think of the great loss of Billy Graham, I am reminded by the great loss of one of my good friend’s grandmother today as well. And finally, even though I knew it was coming, my former pastor and foster parent went to be with Jesus today as well. I felt like somebody punched me in the stomach.
And then there is that word again.
Paul said “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”. As Christians we no doubt look forward to that day when there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more tears. But until then, we live here. And here needs Hope. Here needs you.
These two pictures are almost 11 years to the day apart. The light in my eyes, the ones devoid of light 11 years ago, we call that Hope.