Last month I did a book signing at Stepping Stones Bookstore in Iowa. The owner, my lovely new friend Mindy, let me take over the front of the store for the whole day and gave a lavish and gushingly grand testimony about my books to each and every customer (You can order from her store on line but it would be worth your time to go to Grinnell, Iowa and visit her in person and stay at Gloria’s quaint Bed and Breakfast–The carriage House).
When I had some down time, I browsed around, grateful to be in an actual bookstore where I could pick up books and preview new authors! In my perusing, the message on a box of Christmas cards caught my eye: “A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices”. I had never before isolated that line from the carol “O Holy Night” and have been letting it roll around in my head and heart ever since.
I mentioned before that I read from a variety of daily reading type of books every day. So on the 1st of this month I added in my favorite Thomas Kincaid Christmas with an entry for every day of December. Between his insights, various scriptures and the persistent melody and lyrics from “O Holy Night”, I have had an epiphany about my own writing: The message of this Christmas carol and the message of my books are one and the same.
Let me back up a bit. For the past few weeks have been doing dozens of interviews and have spent countless hours scrolling though my posts to better define my purpose and passion for continuing my work with Soul-Selfie. In talking with other authors and podcasters, I can hear my own consistent refrain: “We are all in this together and there is always hope.”
I write to let others know they are not alone in their sufferings and that together (with God and with each other) we can get better. We can move toward. We can get unstuck and unfrozen (from fears, regrets, betrayal, angst, etc) and start the healing process.
Last week, one of my daily readings directed me to read 1 Peter 5:6-13. It’s not a verse I have regularly visited but has now become one of the key verses that help me define why I didn’t stop writing after my cancer was gone. We are all chronically sick with the disease of the soul; the plagues of the heart, as I call them. Plagues like worry, fear, doubt, resentment, control, and jealousy, just to name a few. It is a veritable soul-pandemic.
Peter (who, in case you don’t remember, knows a little about suffering, having denied knowing Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed and eventually was told by the risen Jesus that the upon Peter, the Rock, His church would be born and built) urges us: “cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you…stand firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings…and the God of all grace….will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Did you catch that? “We are all undergoing the same kind of suffering.”
Regardless of age or race or location on the planet, we are all created by the same God who gives the same hope—a Thrill of Hope. That’s what God gives each of us, in all our sufferings. We need to embrace the thrill of hope, because we are indeed a “weary world”.
As I prepared to write this, I read through the history of this carol and refreshed my memory of all remaining lyrics. Another beautiful phrase I have sung mindlessly over the years gave me similar pause: “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining…till He appeared and the soul felt its’ worth”. Pining, longing, hoping for change, relief, fulfillment, satisfaction. It had been a long-cold-lonely-winter of suffering and the world was waiting for the coming, the ADVENT of a Savior who could finally deliver what their pining, longing hearts had been waiting for their whole lives.
God has appeared and continues to appear to us, even today. Everyday. How has he appeared to you lately? Maybe you haven’t sensed Him but trust me, He is there. Especially when you feel the most weary, anxious or overwhelmed. He longs to give you the thrill of hope so you can also rejoice.
Fall on your knees friend. Ask for the thrill until it comes. Because even though December 1-24th is the season of Advent, or a time to remind us of God’s “coming”, the reality is, He has already come in full force. And just as we wait for Christmas, He is waiting for us turn to Him and rejoice in what he came to earth to bring us: the “new and glorious morn” of life lived in communion with God and his people.
Recently, I have been contemplating starting a movement called: Life Is.
Life Is: hard, good, beautiful, stressful, sometimes boring, exhilarating, challenging, transforming, mundane, sweet, tragic, painful, inspiring, precious, terrifying, excruciating, frustrating, glorious and exquisite.
It all counts. Invite God in to the trauma, drama and minutiae of everyday life. God gives you His power to walk through all of it as he “restores you and makes you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Remember we are all in this together and there is always hope. Embrace the thrill of it and rejoice, my dear friend.