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April 11, 2013

MAY: Hope empassions

It’s Sunday morning in Atlanta and hope springs eternal. It’s 58 degrees, but the crisp wind that rustles through the tall Georgia pines makes it feel closer to 50 than to 60.

The curiosity of the manager at the LaQuinta causes her to stop and chat, wondering why a man from Southern Indiana would be sitting by a waterless swimming pool so early in the morning. You can almost feel the city stretching its collective arms, ready to stir from its sleep and tackle the opportunities of the new day.

The city is splashed with color. Streaks of bright Cardinal red paint half the sky with vibrancy and enthusiasm. A golden maze sprinkled with strands of blue pepper the remainder of the horizon with an equal measure of expectancy.

The final weekend of the college basketball tournaments leaves two teams standing, buoyed by their throngs of supporters. What jubilance will tomorrow bring? How shall I celebrate the victory? How cocky will I walk today?

A text on my cell phone keeps pushing its way to my hand and heart. Four simple words, “Grandma is so proud,” accompany a picture of an hours’ old baby girl, appropriately named Savannah.

There is an incredible feeling welling inside that my daughter is now a mom and has her own children. Maybe she will avoid the pitfalls that caused me to stumble. I pray her path will be smooth, lightened by the breezes from the breath of a gracious God.

The sun creeps over the top of the clay roofing tiles; the light piercing the branches of the treetops. It is almost impossible not to realize the blessings that have been poured out, completely undeserved.

My family somehow has managed to graciously navigate through the unexpected twists and turns of life to find comfort and love at each other’s side. My job allows me to walk alongside genuinely nice people, occasionally encouraging them, occasionally providing strength. And when all these reflections and dreams and hopes stir words in my soul, I have an opportunity to take quill and parchment in hand.

Hope isn’t blind or naïve. Championships are not won without days, months and years of disciplined practice and sacrifice. Jobs are not worked without challenges and frustrations. Mountains are not climbed without pain, deserts are not crossed without parched lips, children are not raised without sleepless nights, frayed nerves or prayer-scarred knees.

Hope feels the ache, but believes that as surely as Atlanta will see the morning sun, God will bring comfort and salve for the wounds.

I cannot help but think that is exactly what the Bible means when it talks about a “living hope.” Listen to how the Message translates Peter’s words.

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven — and the future starts now!”

Whatever my circumstance, I have a God who specializes in healing, not sickness; in life, not death; in hope, not despair.

Hope lives. Today I will cut down the nets, hang the banner or present the trophy. I will take the mound and pitch the shutout, make the game-saving catch or pause to see the flight of the walk-off home run.

I will comfort the cries of a baby, watch a toddler crawl or smile as the 6-year-old scampers off for her first day at school. I will be faithful to my beliefs and my family whether there are 75,000 sets of eyes upon me, or simply Savannah’s.

Or perhaps I will be stirred with renewed vigor to be more like the God who holds all of this in the palm of His hand.

  — Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.

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