A Hope Reborn…

When I chose to step away from my 33 years of work as a local pastor to enter mediation, it was in obedience to a clear direction from Jesus. In March 2018 God had said “You have two more years at Westside.” Then, the door opened to train in mediation, and I stepped away. Over those two years I had learned and practiced mediation, spoken many times with the guy who founded the mother company, Randy, about the possibilities. I knew I was the anchor for a new direction in mediation, but the need was great so there would be many to serve.

Some cautioned me saying, “It takes a long time to start something new.” And I listened but believed, “It will flow quickly.”

But, after July 1st what I discovered is it didn’t flow. The whole COVID reality obviously didn’t help. I could see the need as could those I spoke with, but there was no understanding how to use mediation. Time and again, clients in other areas of the Genesis business were handed to me to help but, like ropes of sand, nothing would come. Some resolved the conflict without me, which I applauded, and others just were not ready to take a step. On more than one occasion, Randy thought a client was coming that never materialized. Twice he said, “This will be a great Christmas bonus.” And then, nothing. It was challenging!

Come December, Randy suggested I pivot toward another area of Genesis Mediation from the area I had worked in. He wanted me to keep that previous area going, but put my main focus in this new arena — mediation for the church and Christian nonprofits. It was a restart. It felt like a gut punch. For days, I couldn’t take action.

Jesus showed up one morning, and said:

“Son, you have had days to mourn the lack of what you call success. Now, follow! …”

Jesus is always direct!

A month later, during one of our weekly business meetings, I took out my journal and noted: “I’m disappointed, Jesus! What am I supposed to do to create business? God, I feel like I’m not getting anywhere! Did you plan this? This constant contact and no response? This ongoing trip down this familiar and dark alley?”

The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Prov. 13:12a) and was telling the truth. My heart felt sick. To keep going was arduous when the flywheel took so long to really move. Exhausting.

But, it was amazing that morning when I journaled those feelings, how powerful it was to simply write the truth! It was as if to write out what was inside, broke some of its power. The situation had not changed, but I felt different. Then, I had this amazing thing happen.

I was on the teaching team for an international storytelling class that was happening online in January. It’s this glorious opportunity. One part of the class is to practice telling 5-minute stories. This is to bring a story into a conversation with a member of the class. The woman from Wisconsin who was my partner at one point used the story from Exodus 14 in which the people of Israel, after leaving Egypt are camped beside the sea. The king of Egypt changed his mind yet again to pursue them. The Israelites panicked seeing the armies arrive, and complained to Moses that he had brought them to the desert to die. In response Moses challenged the people to “stand still and see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today” (Exodus 14:14).

In our conversation, my conversation partner asked, “Brian, do you think what Moses imagined it would be like to bring the people out of Egypt matched his experience?”

“No, certainly it didn’t,” I said.

“How do we see him responding?” She asked.

“He continues to place faith in God’s promise and responds from there. He does not react to the fact that his situation is mismatched to his possible expectations,” I observed.

I was jolted to attention. She and I had spoken for just a moment and this story and her questions had cut through to my heart. I saw: if hope is based upon my expectations — of business, of income, of all the things — it will fall to the ground. And hasn’t my hope been quickly disappointed? But what if, like Moses, I placed my hope in what God has said, not my expectation of the situation in which I find myself? What if I practiced, day by day, placing trust in God for the situation I am in not for the situation I think I ought to be in?

That conversation was a powerful moment in the workshop for me. It was like it feels like when you switch on a light in a dark room. Her words changed everything.

Have you had that kind of an experience?

This conversation did this for me.

The sun rose in my heart anew. It was remarkable. Night changed to day. Hope was reborn. A dream arose for whatever God has for us in this season, not for what I had hoped. As the writer of Proverbs 13:12 put it, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

May you, too, discover God’s hope for you in this season of your own life and walk.

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