I never had a dramatic conversion story. I grew up in the church. I believed in God. I believed He sent Jesus to die on a cross to save us from our sins and make a way for us to live with Him in heaven forever. But that’s pretty much it. I believed. I could say the words, and I genuinely believed them, but they didn’t make much of a difference in my day-to-day life.
I remember times growing up when my heart ached, when I cried in my bed at night, pleading with God to please show up. But I never heard Him. I’m sure He was there, counting every tear. But if I’m honest, I can confess that I wasn’t looking very hard for Him. Sure, I went to church. I read my Bible and prayed…occasionally. Now I know I had the belief but not the relationship.
Fast forward to the night my husband of nearly 10 years sat me down at our kitchen table and said he wanted a divorce. That’s the moment I heard God. That’s when He whispered, “I’m taking care of you now.” That’s when I fell in love with Jesus and life completely changed. That’s the moment, when I was grieving and heartbroken, when hope was born in me. That’s when the imagery of this verse came alive for me:
I love to picture that, overflowing with hope. I want to be so filled with hope that it just bubbles out of me and fills someone else. Lots of someone elses, actually.
Hope is what allows us to persevere in dark times, like divorce, death, illness, and layoffs. Hope is what helps us get through a season of waiting. Hope is what refreshes us when we feel all used up. Hope is what reminds us there are better things coming. Hope is what Jesus gave us when He was born, when He died on the cross, when He defeated death by coming back to life and filled us with the Holy Spirit.
Yes, that relationship makes all the difference. Relationship is what transforms religion from a set of black-and-white beliefs to an intimate experience of loving and being loved.
Kind of like this song:
I hope you know…Jesus loves you.
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