I hope for it. I burn for it. I endure for it.
And why do I keep looking at hope when I should be touching faith? It’s there. It’s here. I remember I’m standing in it. It’s in squirrel stuffing its cheeks with pecan and pumpkin. Perched alert and breathing on branch and leaping to the next, feasting full on fall. Its own actions evidence of what it cannot see. Winter.
But faith is substance and I can touch that.
“This is habit forming!” I throw up my hands and take it all in for a moment.
“Look around you,” is all He has to say about that.
“Ok. But still, what about this?” I close my fingers over hope. But now it’s even more distorted over bumpy knuckles.
“Look around you,” third time insisting. He has my attention.
“Look around you and see through it to Me.”
I am trying to see His face through flames. Trying to rejoice at this entrance. And what about when the flames become a wall of fire? What then? Now? And when I try to hold onto hope alone, and it distorts? Dissipates?
What am I standing in the midst of? Oh yeah, faith. Funny, wise really, how He didn’t say “Look around you and walk in faith.” Not here. Now, it’s enough to look and just stand here looking. Trying to see. Just to see.
Grace. Here. In the front-facing forward look. Back to the wall, yes.
Why do I see better the song played in shadow on fence than in pool where it’s happening? And why don’t I know what song fits both praise and fire?
Because I’ve been facing the wrong way. That's why.
It’s hard to get it straight. Hard to stand open handed. Very so hard to endure. To face the right way and let the flame cast enduring hope all over me. Ah, yes, enduring hope. Cast all over me. It’s what I want. Need. But so hard.
Hard to look around intent on seeing through it to God.
But it’s entrance to rejoicing. Entrance to hope that does not disappoint. It’s faith and hope, pisteuo entrance. And God’s love has poured out grace in my heart. His love has. Grace-love poured out in my heart that controls the flames refining it. Me. And grace to endure.
Grace to practice endurance. Over and over. To practice facing the right way. To practice forward and not backward. To practice standing in faith and knowing the love of God. To practice until it’s more than giddy habit backward but habit, formed, forward.
Habit of joyful hope. Confident hope. Hope of eternal salvation over that of temporal assurance because it’s not assuring at all. I’ve been deluded too many times by it and it dissipates whenever I reach to hold it. Every time. No. Not this habit but the one joyful, confident hope of lasting hope.
I’m practicing. It’s either that or have no real hope. And that is unthinkable. I will die practicing.
How long have I been standing out here anyway? My coffee isn’t steaming anymore.
Muddy dog sprints by. Grinning. Squirrel crazed. And I really want to paint squirrel. Morning tribute to faith.
I spread newspaper over kitchen table and around freckle-nosed cat. She complains. Paint brushes, paper, water in spare aluminum cat dish and paw the color of pumpkin dips cautious in water dish, splashes gentle, and she sits on tracing paper, pounced on pencils, bats brushes and how do I paint squirrel?