Words have always meant something to me, long before I decided to make it my full-time focus. I was always reading, and many say, always talking. Lame confession, but lyrics are just as important to me. Maybe it was PMS, but as a teen my sister walked into my room to find me crying.
There is a line in Poison’s Every Rose Has a Thorn that gets me every time. The words just get me. I know. Poison. Hair band. It’s the line about meeting someone new, and what they had never meant anything. Not the real lyrics, but gah, getting me even now as I paraphrase them.
As I walked a new life of faith in Christ, words became that much more holy to me. God’s word. It’s not archaic history to collect dust on a shelf to me. It is life. The Psalms are artistry and counseling at once. Song of Songs? Hello? If you don’t think God loves love, then you’ve missed those passages that make me blush. (Please understand the love reserved in those pages are about married love, and it’s hot, people!)
Anyway, back to lyrics. As I’ve clawed out of emotional pits and rejoiced on mountaintop experiences, music and lyrics have been my anthems for those moments. This Easter season, actually all year, it has been My Living Hope by Phil Wickham and Brian Mark Johnson. The words leap off the page and crush my soul. I will never do it justice to say that this song so perfectly displays who Jesus is and what His mission was, is, and will be.
It got me thinking. When we enjoyed our Easter service, our pastor made a comment that started a thread for me to follow. What if? What if Jesus rejected the plan? Where would we be?
I had to follow that thread. And I’m a terrible evangelist, but those who have known me, I mean knew me in high school and college and know me today, they know there has been a change that no human could get credit for. When people say prayer doesn’t work or God isn’t real, my heart hurts. Hurts. Because I am living proof that prayer changes everything, even if and especially when it doesn’t go the way I wanted. And God, through Christ accepting the plan for His life, death, and resurrection, has been so real in my life.
I want to share that thread because maybe you’re without hope. I’m nobody special. But maybe through my words you will see you have Living Hope. And you will chase that thread down. I promise you, Jesus will meet you there.
Where I’d Be Without Living Hope:
–I’d be an alcoholic. How do I know? I used alcohol to numb my anger and rejection. I used it to give myself false confidence that in reality, made me a verbal bully. I was drinking double sloe gin fizzes and not getting buzzed after. It wasn’t immediate, but as I slowly trusted that God wasn’t a tyrant shaking His head at me, I realized His arms were open and His love, unconditional. When I hear the words “He set me free,” I know that’s true.
–I’d be divorced. I wouldn’t have even met my husband, I’m sure, because that entire coming together was woven in heaven and executed in a fashion no man or woman could put together. Even if I had, and we had married I assure you, my brokenness I entered marriage in would have sent me packing pretty early. My mindset was to leave a relationship before I got rejected. When things got tough, I was gone. If not physically, emotionally. I also would have acted on what Dr. Gary Chapman called “the tinglies.” It’s often an innocent thing someone else does that gives you positive affirmation years after marriage has settled in. I am certain I would have followed that thread to destruction. Saying a prayer to allow Christ to be a daily part of my life didn’t get me a get out of crisis card for marriage, but my leaning HARD on Him when things were tough and I was selfish, I KNOW that is why I remain married at all.
-I wouldn’t be a mom. For one, that was not something I wanted. I didn’t grow up like my friends dreaming of raising children. I was career oriented. Even after that slow yes to trading my angry life for one of hope, I discovered I had severe PCOS and most likely could not have kids. The pain I had led to a surgery where half my ovaries were removed. They were 5x the size of normal. The pain was so great I literally laid down my desire to be a mom and told God I trusted Him. That is not a prayer I throw out easily or often. Our children are 20 and 15. God also spared the 20 year old in the womb when I had a terrible car accident. I had bowling balls that should have flown forward when my van flipped. They fell out the back window like a couple of dice. The medics said it defied logic that I walked away without a scratch. Years later, our daughter was at death’s door because of a doctor error. It was the second time I surrendered my desire to be a mom to Him and said if He had to take her, I’d need everything He had to survive, but I trusted His ways. I know not all prayers are answered the ways ours was, and trust me, I plan to spend most of eternity asking Jesus these questions. And He will be okay with that.
–I wouldn’t be an author. I’d most likely be writing fan fiction living out jealous and bitter of people like EL James. Sure, I get jealous at times of people who write trash and earn millions, but I can’t put a pricetag on lives changed when I write what He tells me to write, when He directs. Those words give someone Living Hope.
In short, He has transformed my deep pain into a positive daily walk where I live to encourage others. He has healed my body and my mind. He has given me tools to enjoy marriage and parenthood, even when my prayers were not answered in ways I wanted. He gave me courage to let go of fear of rejection and write so readers could surrender their issues and find freedom in Christ. He has given me HIs strength to overcome anger, grief, bitterness, betrayal and so much more not just from my old life, but even these days where I consider Him the beginning of my day, my middle, my end, my every part of my day. It is not an easy life. The tears I have shed.
But. But. He did not become our Living Hope for nothing. All of His sacrifice has eternal purpose and in my limited understanding, I want nothing more than to cling to HIs robe and follow.
If that’s something you’d like, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. There is also a much better worded message and prayer from our Easter service. Want to read the lyrics to Living Hope? Find them here.
I have a new release, a Christian romance novella that shares a little of my own faith story fictionalized called Match Made in Heaven. Check it out! Free Kindle Unlimited. Softcover also available.
This first appeared at juliearduini.com in April.