blossom on water

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  Ephesians 1:18-19a


Oh, that we might know the Lord!  Let us press on to know him.  He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.  Hosea 6:3



It’s been a back float kind of year.

There has been change.  There has been loss.  There has been renewal.  There has been grace.

Actually there’s been a lot of change.  In the last three years my job will have changed five times . . . or maybe it’s six.  I’m starting to lose track.  Some of it sought.  Most of it not.  And there’s been loss.  In May, an extended family member passed away tragically at the age of 27.  Seven weeks later his 35 year-old sister passed away unexpectedly of natural causes.  I’m still in disbelief.

But it’s been a back float kind of year.

Last year I had the opportunity to travel with a group from Foothills to Israel and Jordan.  It was safe and peaceful and wonderful.  It just so happened that my birthday coincided with our day off . . . at our Dead Sea resort.  (The irony was not missed!)  Many of us donned supposedly age-defying mud that we’d scooped up at the shoreline, and bobbed our way ungracefully away from the slippery and rocky edges.  And it was there that I leaned back and did a back float:  face up, eyes closed, aware only of forty-degree sun and salty water.

Although that was over a year ago, the pieces don’t fit together any clearer now than they did then.  Unknowns abound.  But in that moment I turned my face up—in the water, yes—but also in my spirit and relaxed, arms outstretched:  in a dead sea, in an unknown new.

I sense a need right now to practice some daily disciplines in my life.  I tend not to think of a discipline as something warmly inviting or easily attained.  But maybe it’s not so much about mastering a discipline as it is about the work that it does in me.  It is life-giving.  It helps me do a back float.

We know that faith, hope, and love will remain and that the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13).  We focus a lot (and quite rightly so) on love.  But I realize I’ve been going right past hope.  I’ve underestimated its significance.  I’d never really thought of hope as something I need to practice.  But it made the top three, so it must be important.

For it is in these habits of mind and heart that I am turned in a better direction, a direction that I’m sometimes still skeptical of:  face up.  It is here where gaze is set, sure of the One to whom the unknowns are known and who simply says, “I Am the Way.”  It is here where I relax into the care of the One whose promises are many and solid and worthy of my trust.  It is here in the change and in the loss that there is also the renewal and the grace.  It’s not something I’ve engineered or timed.  It hasn’t come in ways I could’ve predicted.  It’s been a gift doing its work in me.  I haven’t always but I’m grateful I’ve been able to receive it and recognize it this time around.

May you have a chance to do a back float this summer.

PRAYER:  Lord, we ask that you would help us fix our eyes on you.  Though we sometimes faint, you do not grow weak or weary.  And we know that those who hope in you will renew their strength.   Amen.  (2 Corinthians 4, Isaiah 40) 

Contributed by Karen Stelter