“Hope is to the soul what breath is to the body – restorative and life-giving,” Allen Randolph, described as “a pastor to pastors,” so beautifully illustrates. “People can learn to live without a lot of things, but not live well nor live long without hope. You live better and more fully each day by finding a reason for hope.”
The title of today’s column is from King David who is quoted in the New Testament saying, “I will pitch my tent in the land of hope!” – Acts 2:26 The Message. Everybody has to live somewhere. David chose to live “in the land of hope.”
Where is your tent pitched?
I recently discovered that my own tent was pitched in many places, none very hopeful. I was in the land of doubt, fear and occasionally vagueness. I laugh as I remember seeing a graphic “What happens in vagueness, Stays in vagueness” and it’s true. Pitching your tent in vagueness only leads to more of same: you don’t know what to do, you don’t know when to do it, you’re not sure if what you’re doing is what you SHOULD be doing.
If a lot of mental chatter right now is peppered with SHOULDS then you need to take a break and assess where you are. Author of ‘Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance’, Jonathan Fields describes success in business and life largely about our relationship to fire.
“At some point in every career, relationship, venture, quest, you will find yourself walking into the fire – a place of deep discomfort and uncertainty. You’ll be working like crazy, putting everything you have into making it succeed…and looking for signs. Please, God, tell me whether this is for real or it’s a fantasy. Is this the fire that steels, or the fire that burns? Inevitably answers come. Bits of data. Some hard and verifiable, but more often soft. Those intuitive hits, visceral responses to people, actions, circumstances and scenarios. Sometimes, they’re clear as day. Most times not. What are they telling me? Hold or fold? I’ve asked some of the smartest, most accomplished people in the world how to discern the difference. And never left with a satisfactory answer. The closest I’ve gotten is “you just know.” Which is sometimes true. Sometimes not.”
Hence the suggestion to pitch your tent in the land of hope…
Like Jonathan said there are no guarantees so trust your gut and press on.
I have another suggestion in reference to an old Quaker saying that says “we should proceed as way opens”. If you’re certain that you’ve planted the right seeds, and done everything that you could possible do then this may be the time to do as Longfellow suggests in the poem ‘A Psalm of Life’ – “learn to labour and to wait.”
In Brent Bill’s book, Sacred Compass, he writes, “To proceed as way opens means to wait for guidance, to avoid hasty judgment or action, to wait for future circumstances to help solve a problem. The spiritual guidance may come in a time of seeking or entirely unexpectedly, bringing a suggestion for previously unforeseen action.”
Philip Gulley who also writes about this Quaker saying says
“so often we try to force our way through life, determined to do this thing or that thing, believing it to be the right path, but uncertain about how best to proceed. In our passion to reach our goal, we sometimes act rashly, giving little thought to the consequences. We don’t wait for the way to open, we seek no guidance, we fail to listen to the God within us, we don’t consult our conscience, we don’t listen to others, or to our best instincts. Then, because the way doesn’t open up soon enough to suit us, we bulldoze our way through, acting hastily, before all the pieces are in place to ensure a good outcome.”
Our lives each have a unique rhythm and cadence. Proceeding as way opens is not a call to be passive, but to be patient. To honor our music and play the notes, one by one as we receive them. Alfred Adler said that it’s easier to talk about one’s principles than it is to live them. Don’t I know it but my job is to shine a light, sometimes in areas where you may not have looked before and once you’re seeing some light, then you can have hope.
Iyanla Vanzant recently shared this on Facebook
“Life always knows exactly what we need, what we are ready for, and when we are prepared to receive it. We are usually so busy looking behind or ahead, we miss the flow of life passing right before our eyes. Fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame fog our vision and cause us to miss the point, the lesson, and the blessing. Let us remember that right now is a blessing.”
Pitch your tent in hope-land, stay present and remember it’s always darkest right before the dawn.