Facing things out of my control

Our green singing finch (center) and cordon bleu finch (left) in their birdie condo, 1964

“I can rest in the fact that God is in control.  Which means I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control.”- Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued

” . . . but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of  the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”- Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)

On a typical day in 1964, dawn’s first light shines in the Henning’s living room.  Our green singing finch – aka “Bird” – awaits his cue.  As I lift the cloth covering the birdie condo, Bird springs into alpha-finch mode.  He immediately  asserts his dominance over his companion, our docile cordon bleu finch (https://www.crownofcompassion.org/2014/09/02/finch-whisperer/), affectionately known as “Bleuy.”  Once Bird settled that issue, they live peacefully the rest of the day.

However, when Bleuy dies, Bird (https://www.crownofcompassion.org/2014/08/19/sing-joy/) remains inconsolable.  He’s hoarse from constantly singing his grief song.  Although we add a mirror to convince him he’s not alone, we can’t fool him.  Ultimately, facing things out of my control, we rescue Bird.  We return him to Mr. Erling Kjelland at Sedgwick Studio.  Consequently, Mr. Kjelland kindly places Bird in a large cage with many new finch friends.

In his latest book, The Joseph Calling: 6 Stages to Discover, Navigate, and Fulfill Your Purpose, Os Hillman puts forth the truth that we all need an encounter with God along the way.  For only an encounter with God provides us with His sustaining and healing power.  Furthermore, this pivotal encounter packs major significance during the isolation stage of the Joseph calling.  During this stage, we often experience deep feelings of loneliness as well as abandonment.

As a result, Mr. Hillman points out, the isolation stage harbors danger to your psyche.  In an effort to cope – when you say “I’m facing things out of my control” – it’s possible to fall prey to many kinds of sin.  On the other hand, allowing God to enter this time with you often produces a fruitful season.

Finally, during this stage God blesses you with time to develop an intimate knowledge of and relationship with Jesus.  As you separate from the old, you prepare your heart for what lies ahead.  And as you serve others amid your pain, you’re God’s conduit of healing to them.  Serving’s also the catalyst leading to your own freedom.

In conclusion, John Ortberg (Soul Keeping) contrasts the “with God” life and the “without God” life:

“The ‘with God’ life is not a life of more religious activities or devotions or trying to be good.  It is a life of inner peace and contentment for your soul with the maker and manager of the universe.  The ‘without God’ life is the opposite.  It is death.  It will kill your soul.”

The silence of contemplation

West Waterfall at Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, IL

“Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness.  It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let out minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a Divine mystery, or a waterfall.”- Fulton J. Sheen

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”- Psalm 58:11

Inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Gardens in Oregon, Rockford businessman John Anderson began construction of the Anderson Japanese Gardens in 1978.  Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu provided ongoing assistance to the Andersons.  Consequently, Mr. Kurisu transformed the Anderson’s swampy backyard along Spring Creek into a Japanese-style landscape.  In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association.

Today, the not-for-profit oasis continues to grow and change.  Most importantly, the Anderson Japanese Gardens impart a tranquil setting for replenishment, contemplation, and “slowing.”

In Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, Bill Hybels suggests none of us functions at our peak when depleted.  So, if you’re telling God what to do or mad at the world, perhaps it’s time to sit down together with God.  Because you’ve lost your bearings on true north, you’re just spinning.  But God’s plan pours new streams of replenishment into your soul.

Thus, Pastor Hybels identifies the biggest bucket-filler in life as walking firmly hand-in-hand with God.   As a result, when you’re really connected with God, you’re quicker to stay on God’s agenda.  Furthermore, being right with God and tuned into Him filters out all extraneous noise.  And spending time with God yields the antidote to one key energy-killer: image management.  It’s simplest and best to follow one agenda only: God’s.

However, spending time with God poses problems for the hurry-sick.  Hence, John Ortberg (The Life You’ve Always Wanted) suggests two practices designed to help us live unhurried lives.  John labels the first practice “slowing.”  He states slowing involves “cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.”  For example, Pastor Ortberg asks us to look for the longest line at the grocery store.  Next, get in that line.  Finally, let one person go ahead of you.  Do this for a month.

In conclusion, John offers a second, more traditional practice- solitude.  He notes that an old phrase describes solitude as the “furnace of transformation.”  Therefore, this practice requires relentless perseverance as well as commitment.  Pastor Ortberg finds it helpful to sort this concept into two levels:

  1. brief periods on a regular basis – ideally each day, even at intervals throughout the day
  2. extended periods at greater intervals – half a day, a day, or even a few days

As Henri Nouwen once wrote, “In solitude I get rid of all my scaffolding.”  You practice the silence of contemplation.

Each day holds a surprise – only if we expect it

On its 50th Anniversary in 1991, an Electroliner passes a Silverliner (built 1917) at the Illinois Railway Museum.

“Each day holds a surprise.  But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.  Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy.  It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”- Henri Nouwen

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up- do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”- Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

On Sunday, February 9, 1941, the first North Shore Electroliner went into service.  Debuting as the North Shore Lines’ premiere electric rail equipment, the Electroliner featured coach service as well as tavern/lounge amenities.  Partially inspired by the Burlington Zephyr, the Electroliner’s principal body color consisted of a medium blue-green trimmed with salmon-red stripes.

Capable of operating at speeds up to 90 mph, the Electroliner remained in service for 22 years, advertising one-way, through fares to Milwaukee or Chicago.  Furthermore, the celebrated train evoked surprise for two reasons.  Interurbans (1)  faced their last stand by the early 1940s  and (2) weren’t thought of as high-speed operations.

Writing in The Upside of Adversity (2006), Os Hillman fortifies our spirits when he states that God desires to turn our desert places into lush green valleys of blessing.  Yet, when you’re in that desert, your most significant concern revolves around when your trial will end.  As Os explains, he believes your trial will end when it doesn’t matter anymore (emphasis author’s):

“Once you’ve lived a long time in a state of adversity, status and influence don’t mean much anymore.  You appreciate the blessings God gives you, but if they were removed, you’d still be okay.  Your security is in God, not circumstances.”

Most importantly, Mr. Hillman examines the connection between adversity and success.  In particular, he stresses the perspective adversity gives to success.   As a result, Os describes five principles to remember as you graduate from a time of adversity to a time of blessing.

1.  View success as a gift from God.  Since all success comes from the Lord, that means you receive it, not achieve it.  And that applies to all your possessions.  God gifted them to you.  Os adds: “When all you have is a gift. there’s no room for pride – only humility and gratitude.”

2.  Learn how to handle praise.  While the approval of people comes and goes, God’s approval lasts forever.  Therefore, all praise belongs to God.

3.  Live a humble life.  As Rick Warren observes in The Purpose-Driven Life, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

4.  Be held accountable for humility.  Ask trusted Christian friends to hold you accountable for a humble attitude.

5.  Remember that God saved you and has plans for you.  Everything that happens in our lives = an undeserved blessing of God’s grace.

When we see the rainbow, the shower’s over

A partial rainbow rises above Chestnut Mountain Resort near Galena, IL.

“It is said that when we see the rainbow the shower is over.  Certain it is, that when Christ comes, our troubles remove; when we behold Jesus, our sins vanish, and our doubts and fears subside.  When Jesus walks the waters of the sea, how profound the calm.”- Charles Spurgeon

“Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout.  I the LORD have created it.”- Isaiah 45:8 (ESV)

On a recent vacation to Galena, IL, my wife Vicki and I dined at the Sunset Grille, a restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River at the Chestnut Mountain Resort.  After enjoying a relaxing meal along with a idyllic view, we walked back to our car.  Suddenly, Vicki spotted a partial rainbow, with every single color vividly displayed, in an otherwise clear sky.  This phenomenon puzzled us, because no storms passed over the resort.  However,  when we returned to our hotel, the clerk informed us that a brief, heavy thunderstorm hit the hotel, about 12 miles northwest from the Sunset Grille, earlier that evening.

Following your ministry downsizing or vocation loss, you enter what pastor and author John Ortberg calls the “uncertainty period.”  Most importantly, John asserts, a significant reason for your uncertainty exists — a good of not knowing.  Consequently, Pastor Ortberg believes, this “uncertainty period” offers:

  • a unique opportunity for growth
  • a confident, joyful approach to life, even when you don’t yet know if you’ll get what you hope for
  • a type of soul strength not available through immediate answers
  • a call for trust rather than condemnation to anxiety

Thus, uncertainty forms an essential element of life.  Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist monk and spiritual intellect, once suggested that if you find God with great ease, perhaps you’ve found something other than God.

Therefore, Pastor Ortberg explains, trusting God provides the necessary foundation as you struggle with the not-knowing times of life:

“You have to trust the author.  You have to believe that God has a good reason for keeping his presence subtle.  It allows creatures as small and frail as human beings the capacity for choice that we would never have in the obvious presence of infinite power. . . . God wants to be known, but not in a way that overwhelms us, that takes away the possibility of love freely chosen.”

Finally, John concludes, you’ll find God anywhere you’re willing to see the entire world through wonder-filled eyes and a tongue fluent only in praise.  In other words, as Max Lucado states:

“We don’t need an ‘Over the Rainbow’ god.  We need the One who created rainbows.”

A vivid point of light from Scripture

The streamlined diesel train awaits passengers at Playland Amusement Park in Willow Springs, IL.

“We all need a vivid point of light from Scripture — a particular verse that resonates with us personally, to guide or paths and give us a reference point, no matter the size of the waves.”- Bill Hybels, Simplicity (2014)

“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”- Psalm 18:28

Playland Amusement Park, once located in present-day Willow Springs, IL, opened in mid-summer 1950.  On summer weekday afternoons in the late 1950s,  my next door neighbor, Dorothy Podewell, would take her son Cliff, my mom Elinor, and me to Playland- about a ten-mile drive from Evergreen Park.

Primarily a kiddie park with a total of 30-40 rides, Playland provided minimal landscaping, with dirt and gravel paths.  Although Playland charged no admission, patrons paid per ride.  Upon arriving, I’d immediately head for my favorite ride, the streamlined diesel train.  At one point it ran through a 300-foot tunnel.  In general, I gravitated toward rides that maintained direct contact with terra firma, like the Electric Street Cars.  If I felt particularly daring, I’d try my hand at the bumper cars!  And to cool off, a refreshing strawberry soda beckoned at the concession stand.

By 1979, Playland’s simplicity no longer competed with larger, fancier amusement parks like Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.  Playland closed.  Hence, today a mobile home park occupies the site.

Writing in Simplicity, Pastor Bill Hybels asserts that, when adversity batters us and we’re most likely to go off-course, a “life verse” guides us back to what matters most.  In other words, a vivid point of light.  Pastor Hybels defines a life-verse as:

  • a powerful, clarifying tool when it comes to simplifying our lives
  • a short passage of Scripture serving as a rallying cry to guide and focus the current season of your life, or your life as a whole
  • carefully chosen after prayerful consideration- resonates with you in a personal way
  • a continual guide back to God’s mission and vision for your life

Furthermore, Pastor Hybels describes three key reasons and benefits for choosing a life-verse:

1.  It clarifies what matters most.  As a Christ follower, God’s given you an earthly assignment that makes specific use of your unique gifts.  Thus, your life  verse reflects God’s particular guidance in your life.  Read, write, or recite your life verse every day.  It always recenters you on your purpose.

2.  It calls out the best in me.  Your life verse calls out the best in you.  Therefore, it minces no words.  Also, it provides blindingly clear marching orders for your life.  Most importantly, a Christ follower’s motivation should come from within.

3.  It brings comfort.  Every effort you expend to advance the purposes of God in this world is never in vain.  Whether your effort is big or small, visible or invisible, God Himself notices and appreciates your effort.  Ultimately, you do what you do for an audience of one.  Guided by a vivid point of light from Scripture.

We’ll never walk alone down the Red Sea road

Rev. Otto G. Thieme, longtime shepherd of Timothy Lutheran Church and School, c. 1965

“When we can’t see the way/ He will part the waves/ And we’ll never walk alone/ Down the Red Sea road.”- Ellie Holcomb

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.  They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.”- Psalm 89:15, 16

“There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.”- G. K. Chesterton

As an eighth grade student at Timothy Lutheran School in Chicago, I grasped the unique opportunity to participate in two diverse confirmation classes.  One class met Saturday mornings at Ashburn Lutheran, my home congregation.  The other class, let by Rev. Otto G. Thieme, took the place of one regularly scheduled religion class at Timothy’s day school.

In contrast to an updated version of Luther’s Small Catechism used by Pastor Lillie at Ashburn, Rev. Thieme used the tried and true original version.  Complete with proof texts.  Most importantly, though, Rev. Thieme gently spoke God’s language of possibility.  Furthermore, as a true shepherd and guide, he compassionately communicated Jesus’ forgiveness and understanding.

Writing in Glory Days, pastor and author Max Lucado defines a stronghold as “a false premise that denies God’s promise. . . . It seeks to eclipse our discovery of God.  It attempts to magnify the problem and minimize God’s ability to solve it.”  In other words, Max asks, does a specific stronghold maintain a strong hold over you?  Is your everyday speech peppered with the language of impossibility?

Furthermore, it seems like you’ve been walking a long time.  In Exodus, the Hebrew people marching around Jericho certainly felt that way.  And even though God told Joshua Jericho’s walls would fall on the seventh day, Joshua didn’t inform the people.  They just kept walking that Red Sea road of trust.  Thus, we need to cultivate the God-drenched mind.

Therefore, acknowledge the presence of problems, but immerse your mind in God-thoughts.  As Max cautions, when you marinate your mind in your problems, like battery acid, those problems corrode and corrupt your thoughts.  In contrast, God-drenched thoughts preserve and refresh your attitudes.

As you ponder God’s holiness, Pastor Lucado exhorts, let His splendor stun and inspire you.  And turn a deaf ear to doubters.  Disregard cynics and their lethal disbeliefs.  Instead, fill your mind with faith.  Take on a God-sized challenge.  Most of all, keep walking the Red Sea road.  For all you know, this may be the day the sea parts or your walls of fear come tumbling down!

The three laws of relationship

Lagen’s Supermarket, originally an IGA, closed in 2014.

“A wise man once said that . . . the three laws of relationship are observation, observation, observation.”- John Ortberg

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”- Ephesians 3:17-19

For more than fifty years, Lagen’s Supermarket- originally an IGA, served the northeast Evergreen Park, IL community.  Located at 89th and California, the full-service grocer reached almost 20,000 people within a one-mile radius.  And sometime during my teen years, the building doubled in size.  Eventually, though, Lagen’s succumbed to the proliferation of big-box grocery stores, closing in 2014.

Truly, the independent grocery store created a sense of community.  The Henning family lived just a block away.  Since the store employed a butcher, mom bought all her meat there.  In addition, the store’s convenient location allowed mom to purchase any extra items needed during the week.  Dad took the family car to work.  Also, two neighbor ladies, Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Peterson, worked the manual cash registers there.  I especially prized the foot-long pretzel sticks beckoning at the checkout lanes.

Noted Christian activist Dorothy Day once wrote that “we have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”  Furthermore, author and pastor John Ortberg stresses that God designed us to flourish in connectedness.  Thus, we must learn to identify the life-giving people around us.  Most importantly, we need to discover how to give the power of connectedness to others.  As a result, John describes five gifts that connectedness brings.

  1. The Gift of Delighting.  As we consider the three laws of relationship, we realize that people who notice us give life to us.  Hence, love for someone grows when we work to truly observe that person.  In the process of our own self-forgetfulness, our own soul flourishes.
  2. The Gift of Commitment.  John notes that “too often, people who need cheers the most get them the least.”  Thus every life needs: an occasional shoulder to lean on, a prayer to lift them up to God, a hugger to wrap some arms around them sometimes.
  3. The Gift of Love.  John urges that every moment presents an opportunity to practice a gesture of love.
  4. The Gift of Joy.  Proverbs 17:22 reads, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
  5. The Gift of Belonging.  The most common designation for Christians is “brother” or “sister.”  Thus, belonging = God’s gift to us.

In conclusion, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (1881-1955) wrote about this gift of community and relationship:

“Someday, after we have mastered the winds and the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.”

But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone

Mr. Henning’s first class, Grades 3-4, St. Paul (Dorchester), Chicago

“But even if You don’t/ My hope is You alone”- MercyMe

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods . . .”- Daniel 3:17-18

After graduation from Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, IL, St. Paul Lutheran School called me to teach grades three and four.  Sometime during the winter of 1974-75, I developed the worst sinus infection I’ve ever experienced.  Extreme congestion reduced my voice to a whisper.  Therefore, even if I reported  to school, I faced a communication dilemma.

As a result, my industrious students seized the day.  Presented with the opportunity to be my voice, they eagerly volunteered to read answers from the teachers guides and give directions for assignments.  Our cohesive classroom community carried through the next two days without a hitch.

Writing in Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller notes a puzzling statement in Daniel 3:18.  The verse begins, “But even if he does not”.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego admit the possibility God might not deliver them.  Why?  Because they place their confidence in God.  They chose not to rely on their limited understanding of what God would do.  In other words, Pastor Keller adds, the three men trusted in God period.  Tim Keller explains:

“But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego really believed ‘all the way down’ to God.  So they were not nervous at all.  They were already spiritually fireproofed. . . . Their greatest joy was to honor God, not to use God to get what they wanted in life.  And as a result, they were fearless.  Nothing could overthrow them.”

In conclusion, Pastor Keller describes three lessons learned from the story of “The Fiery Furnace”:

1.  God is with us in the fire.  This metaphor means God understands the difficulties of living through the miseries of this world.  God walks with us.   However, the real question revolves around if we’ll walk with Him.  Life falls apart when we create a false God-of-my-program.

2.  We must treat God as God and as there.  Timothy Keller exhorts: “If you remember with grateful amazement that Jesus was thrown into the ultimate furnace for you, you can begin to sense him in your smaller furnaces with you (emphasis Tim’s).”

3.  You must go into the furnace with the gospel to find God there.  It’s most dangerous to go into the fire without the gospel.  You’ll be mad at God, mad at yourself, or both.  If you trust in Jesus, your furnace will only make you better.

God made you to flourish

Hawthorn-Mellody Farms’ “free of human touch” production process

“God made you to flourish — to receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself.”- John Ortberg

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”- Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

In its heyday, Hawthorn-Mellody Farms & Amusement Park in Libertyville, IL, functioned as a state-of-the-art dairy farm.  One of the largest dairy farms in Lake County, Hawthorn-Mellody also operated a small, but successful, amusement park.  The park included a petting zoo, small western town, and a steam train.

The owner, John Cuneo, Sr., built Hawthorn-Mellody in 1949.  He intended that the farm serve as a fun, educational center where families learned about agriculture and the dairy industry.  To achieve this goal, Mr. Cuneo constructed a public milking parlor.  Every afternoon, Holsteins were milked using Hawthorn’s “free of human touch” production process.  However, new owners razed the farm in 1970 due to decreased attendance and increased competition from more modern dairies.

Before your ministry downsizing or vocation loss, perhaps preoccupation with work and/or career goals defined your existence.   As a result, you felt alive.  Furthermore, after your loss that preoccupation simply shifted gears to resurrecting your vocation.  Consequently, then, how do you avoid acquiring the “spiritual” gift of pouting?

Writing in The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg stresses that no one particular achievement or experience defines life.  Instead, your most important task in life consists of who you become, not what you do.  Citing Ephesians 2:10, Pastor Ortberg explains:

“You are not your handiwork; your life is not your project.  Your life is God’s project.  God thought you up, and he knows what you were intended to be.  He has many good works for you to do . . . signposts to your true self.”

Therefore, Dr. Ortberg exhorts you to remember that God made you to flourish.  In addition, he describes flourishing as:

  • God’s gift and plan
  • living in harmony with God, other people, creation, and yourself
  • not measured by outward signs such as income, possessions, or attractiveness
  • becoming the person God had in mind in creating you
  • moving toward God’s best version of you

In conclusion, Pastor Ortberg encourages, you become more you when you flourish.  Although you are a “new creation,” you’re not completely different.  For God wants to redeem you rather than exchange you.  And in this process you grow, giving God the glory.  John explains:

“But as God grows you, he wants to use you in his plan to redeem the world, and you find him changing your experiences.  Your flourishing self works out of a richness and a desire to contribute.  You live with a sense of calling . .  . doing what you love and what creates value. . . . become resilient in suffering. . . . You grow.”

Finally, God calls us to bring His wisdom and glory to the world.  As we flourish, we bring blessing to others.  Yes, even in the most unexpected and humble circumstances.

Hope comes in two flavors

Brigid Bazlen, age 14, as the Blue Fairy on WGN-TV, 1958

“We all hope, but hope comes in two flavors- hoping  for something and hoping in someone.”- John Ortberg, Know Doubt

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:  for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”- 1 Corinthians 15:52 (KJV)

It’s almost 7:30 pm on a chilly Monday evening in 1958.  While parents watch in an adjoining room, a studio technician escorts me and five other youngsters to our seats- oversized mushrooms in The Blue Forest.  At 7:30, The Blue Fairy, suspended by wires, flies above the forest, saying: “I’m the Blue Fairy.  I’ll grant you a wish to make all your dreams come true.”  Resplendent in her blue gown and diamond tiara, Brigid Bazlen clasps a silver wand.  After descending to the forest floor, she asks each of us a question: “What is your favorite zoo animal?”

In 1958, WGN-TV, then located in the Prudential Building, produced two color programs- The Blue Fairy and Garfield Goose & Friend.  Although only televised in the Chicago area, The Blue Fairy won the Peabody Award for best children’s programming that year.  The award catapulted the series- and Brigid- to national attention.  Brigid later appeared in King of Kings (1961) as Salome and in the soap opera Days of Our Lives (1972).

Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister George MacDonald (1824-1905) once wrote: “Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.”  Yet, as John Ortberg points out, we must recognize the truth that one day every thing we hope for eventually disappoints us.  That’s why hope comes in two flavors.  Therefore, through the power of the Holy Spirit, faith requires:

  • belief- what we do with our minds
  • commitment- what we do with our wills
  • hope- what we do in our hearts

Furthermore, Pastor Ortberg suggests, our wishes reveal something true about why we exist and the reason God created us.  And Frederick Buechner echoed these thoughts when he stated that “sometimes wishing is the wings the truth comes true on.  Sometimes the truth is what sets us wishing for it.”

Three-day stories-  Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example- demonstrate (1) desperate need and anticipation and (2) hope hanging by a thread.  Although that hope comes in two flavors, only one flavor transforms your soul, rather than reducing Jesus to a heavenly meal ticket.  John Ortberg explains:

“What got released on Sunday was hope.  Not hope that life would turn out well.  Not even hope that there will be life after death.  Hope that called people to die: die to selfishness and sin and fear and greed, die to the lesser life of a lesser self so that a greater self might be born.  And many people did.  This hope changed things.”