December 10, 2011: H is for HOPE

“It’s your decision who you choose to call your closest friend. I’ll never interfere; I hope you understand.” (From New Best Friend – A Little Book of Faith by Vera Jones)

There I was, a nervous 12-year old greatly anticipating my first time to drive a real automobile! Dad had taken my brother and me out to the country in North Carolina where we could drive down deserted, dirt roads and get the hang of the driving experience. I took a deep breath, placed the key in the ignition and turned it forward. Just then I felt the excitement of the car idling as a soft vibration rustled through the steering wheel. My eyes were wide with anticipation, my heart ready to jump out my chest! I did it! I started the car! I was so very excited it was becoming impossible not to squirm in my seat. I kept both hands at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions as my father instructed. There Dad and I sat in silence. After what must have been a couple of minutes of just sitting and me peering out the front windshield in a complete daze, Dad, a very patient man, finally said, “Uh, if you want to drive the car, you have to put it in gear and step on the gas.”

Put it in gear and step on the gas? What a concept! I actually had to do more than just start the engine to get the car moving? At that time, the thrill of just revving up the ignition was enough excitement for me for one day. But why was I so nervous to put the car in gear and press on the gas? It was worry that I might drive into a tree, and doubt that I was ready to drive a car in the first place at only age 12. I had long hoped and imagined doing it, but here I was at the moment of truth full of hope but lacking faith. I remember taking a deep breath and saying, “I can do this! I know I can.” I shifted into drive. I gently placed my foot on the gas. “Whoo hoo, would you look at that? I was driving! Holy cow and chicken, I was driving a car!” Thanks Dad! And thank you Faith!

As quoted from New Best Friend above, Faith hopes in us. She desires that we understand we always have a choice to either call Faith our closest friend, or to call upon Worry and Doubt instead. Although there are many great lines in this poem (of course I’d say this as I am the author), this is one of my favorites. It is powerful. We actually can choose at any given time whether we are going to be faith-filled and positive, or worry and doubt stricken with negativity. I’m not sure we always understand this concept as it seems almost inevitable that when things go wrong, or whenever we are trying something new or untested, worry and doubt automatically settle in and take over.

“Why doesn’t Faith just kick in naturally and save me all of the drama, headaches and heartburn?” I’ve often wondered. It is because hope and faith are much like driving an automobile. Hope has the powerful ability to physically stimulate the senses, sending happy endorphins throughout the body as the positive imagery of something wonderful activates in your brain. Turning on hope is much like starting the engine of that automobile. Once the key is in the ignition the car revs up and so begins the anticipation process. But much like that car, you just remain idle with the power to go somewhere, but you don’t actually move ahead. To get moving, you have to make a choice to place Faith into gear then step on the gas. Let me see if I can drive this important point home (all pun intended).

So many of us find ourselves full of hope, but we remain idle, not seeing our hopes transformed into our realities. We wish for something good that we believe could happen (hope), but we aren’t necessarily believing that same something good actually will happen (faith). Faith is always inviting you to activate her power to help turn your hopes and dreams into reality. She recognizes, however, that you can be full of hope but still be overwhelmed with worry and doubt. When this happens, no matter how full of anticipation you become, if you do not put Faith in gear and give her some gas, you will remain right where you are. My father in the car that day did not put the car in gear for me, nor did he press my foot down on the gas pedal. He waited for me to choose to overcome my nervousness and do it myself. That’s how Faith works. You have to choose Faith over worry and doubt if you want to get moving in the right direction.

So if you find yourself frustrated because your hopes do not materialize into reality, discern whether you have chosen to activate your faith beyond your hopes, disregarding worry and doubt. You have to believe you can indeed drive that car! Hope is important. Remember, it’s what gets the car started. Unfortunately, you never go anywhere on just hope alone. If you are sitting in the car as it just idles in the same position, you might want to make that choice to kick Faith into gear, put your foot on the gas, and get ready for the ride of your life!

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