My daughter and I walked to a neighborhood playground last night. It was a beautiful fall evening, the sky changing hues in its spectacular subtle way. When we arrived at the mulch-covered space, and my daughter headed straight for the swings.
“Will you push me, mama?”
Though she can pump her legs and swing herself, I obliged.
She was giggling with joy and flying high in the sky when another little girl approached the swingset. She looked at us, a curious expression on her face.
“Would you like to swing too?” I asked.
She took two steps closer, grasped the chains, and hoisted herself onto the swing right by my daughter.
Miss K turned her head to the girl and asked, “What’s your name?”
She answered. Then I asked her how she spelled it, “With a ‘C’ or a ‘K’?”
“With a ‘K’!” She responded emphatically. Then she went on to tell me how people misspelled her name.
My daughter listened, then said, “My name starts with a ‘K’ too!”
The two girls continued to swing and chat about names, ages (they are both 5!), how they both were wearing pink pants, and if the other knew certain songs.
They sang their ABCs. Then Miss K asked our new friend if she knew the “B-I-B-L-E” song and began singing it. After a few repetitions, if the little girl didn’t know it before, she did now.
I gazed at the changing sky as the sweet voices sang…
Yes, that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God;
And there on the eve of election day, standing in a bed of mulch, my heart swelled with hope. These two little girls were strangers who met on the playground, where they found common ground.
Often where we play, we find things in common with our neighbor.
God used their young hearts to encourage mine. There were no assumptions, fear of offending, hidden motives, or any hint of dislike for the other.
Why would there be?
They both came to swing.
To enjoy an activity that brings joy.
They quickly found common ground: first initials, pink pants, and a shared love of singing while swinging. They sang about the Bible, then sang another song about God. And through their worship, God renewed my heart.
Differences threaten to divide us, but worshiping God, alone and with others, elevates the eternal above the temporal.
I smiled as I watched two beautifully unique little girls swing high to the sky with sweet voices singing and chatting. Their future is bright because the Light is shining through them. God used these precious ones to renew my hope for our country right there on the playground.
Dear believer, this is for you:
Our country’s future is bright not because a candidate wins or loses, but because of Jesus and how he shines through us.
If the man you voted for wins, you are still called to shine the light of Christ.
If the man you voted for loses, you are still called to shine the light of Christ.
Either way, believers, God gives us life and breath to reflect him to a broken world.
Our hope, as Christians, is in Christ. He gives us the joy to sing (and swing if we want to), trusting him with child-like faith. Our future is bright because Jesus is the Light of the World.
If you are weighed down with a heavy heart or weary soul this election season, maybe this will help…
Inspired by 5-year old guides, let’s consider the following as we ask God to renew us with hope.
Fix your eyes on the created world God made for your enjoyment. Feel the breeze, watch the sunset sky, listen to the whisper of leaves. Go on a walk, sit on the porch, and find a swingset. Be mindful of the time spent on screens, and give yourself time to unwind outside.
God, thank you for giving us such a beautiful world to live in. Thank you for the changing seasons and your diverse creation. When I gaze on all you have made, I’m in awe of who you are. I recognize how small I am in this vast universe, and yet—you know me intimately and love me unconditionally. Thank you for creating me and placing me right here right now for your purpose. Amen.
Smile and Play
What do you enjoy? What makes you laugh? What do you wish you had more time to do? Watching the girls swing made my heart feel light.
And I want more of that in my life.
How about you?
When life feels heavy and discouraging, we need to seek life-giving activities we enjoy.
Gracious God, you give good gifts. Help me seize opportunities to enjoy your blessings. Forgive me for being a slave to my to-do-list and chores and duties. You created me for more. Jesus, you give abundant life. Show me ways to relax and enjoy this day you’ve given me. Amen.
Be Careful About Assumptions
Some people are publicly vocal about their views. Some people are more inclined to express things privately. What have these expressions or lack of expressions caused you to assume about another?
God, please reveal any assumptions I’ve made of other people, especially if they’ve expressed views different from my own. You not only created every human being, but you love each one of us immensely, more than we can comprehend. You are a God of grace and mercy, and you know every heart fully—the inclinations and views of everyone. You see every life and understand every circumstance that contributes to a person’s perspective. I cannot see and know as you do, Father. Forgive me for assumptions I’ve made, and help me see the good in people you put in my path. Amen.
Seek and Celebrate Common Ground
Imploring messages to “pick a side” for everything from mask-wearing, pandemic education choices, racial justice, social distancing, and political platforms have created a deep division in our country. These are all important issues that most likely have weighed on you mentally, spiritually, and possibly even physically. There are some decisions, though, that don’t require such angst.
To shine your light in your God-given way.
These things are a given, and I witnessed them on the playground.
My daughter noticed her new friend wore pink pants just like her. They both expressed excitement at being the same age. They both loved swinging and singing about God (yet they didn’t even chat about that—they just did it together).
You’ve probably noticed how others are different from you—in looks, beliefs, politics, social media etiquette. I’d encourage you to look for common ground with your brothers and sisters. It may be hard, uncomfortable, or seemingly impossible. Maybe you both wear the same color pants, as our 5-year old guides taught us. That’s a place to start.
God, there is so much discord, pain, and division right now. Fear and frustration have led to anger and judgment. We need you, Jesus, to help us see each other as you do. Give us your love for others. Give us discretion in our speech (our talk and our typing), that we would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Give us the courage to seek and celebrate shared common ground with another, even if it’s small. Amen.
Worship the God of All Hope
Ultimately, we must evaluate where we place our hope.
Politicians will fail us because they are imperfect people.
Platforms will fail us because they are established and carried out by imperfect people.
Our spouses, children, co-workers, and friends at some point discourage and disappoint us because—yep, they are all imperfect people.
And with a grace-filled smile, I type this gentle message: You and I are imperfect too.
Misplaced hope skews our purpose, position, and perspective.
So, how do we re-align our hearts on the God of hope?
We worship him.
Hope hinges on our worship—of God or lesser things.
God, re-align my heart on you. You are the Creator of every landscape of each nation across the Earth. You paint the sunset sky, and you keep this globe spinning through every day and season. Lesser things pull on us, which the enemy often uses to lure us away from you. Give us discretion to see our weaknesses, Lord. To know how we are prone to wander away from you, the God we love. Thank you for the cross and for forgiving our waywardness. Give us grace to place our trust in you, not just for eternity, but for every day of this life you’ve given. Our hope is in you, Jesus. Amen.
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If you’d like a guide to help you refresh your heart this season, Renew: Invite the Designer to Refresh Your Heart is for you. I wrote it for the overwhelmed, weary, and discouraged. I wrote it for you and for me because the seasons of our lives bring clutter that only God, our great Designer, can clean out and restore. Are you ready to refresh the interior of your heart? Enter in. Renewal awaits you.
If your heart is heavy, I’d love to send you a copy of my free guidebook, Cope in Hope: A Gentle Guide for the Heavy Heart. I created this guide to help us hold on to hope when circumstances weigh us down.