Arise, be enlightened . . . for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee . . . Lift up thy eyes round about, and see . . . Then shalt thou see, and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged (Is 60:4-5).
I must confess, as 2020 comes to an end and we begin a whole new year, I am not sensing a world that is organically abounding in optimistic hope—in abiding peace and joy. A cloud of harsh realities and headlines still vie for the spotlight and compete for the ground of hearts. Where do I fix my gaze to find hope in 2021?
This past year has been a fight for the world at large, and I suspect many of you, like me, have faced disappointments right inside the walls of your immediate cosmos . . . in my own domestic church, doors have slammed shut, in the heart and right down the hall. I can look hard down that hallway and wrestle the winding, dark worries . . . where is it all going? The fight for hope can get real, real fast.
I also admit that I am the Jolly-Mama who has often been pegged as an optimist—as if I have a sixth sense bent toward positive outcomes. I love a good positive, pump-up party, but there are whole seasons, whole years that simply don’t allow me to rely on a natural bent, on mere disposition.
The truth is that deep abiding hope is a substance that comes from a realm far beyond you or me—it is a force of heaven itself, from that place beyond the veil calling our name. Positivity often means that we are waiting on good results or for our try-hard steam to measure up and pan out. In contrast, hope invites us to look up, to actively be enlightened by the truth of heaven—the truth that this world has been conquered by the birth of a Savior. Because of Jesus’ coming, his sacrificial death, and his resurrection, all God’s promises are inevitable—we are deeply loved, and we are promised the presence of Jesus and the coming of the kingdom.
In 2021, the kingdom will come. God has promised it. If you and I will continue to focus our gaze on the source of love, the fulfillment of the kingdom will happen right through and in the very ordinary days as mothers.
This coming of the kingdom will not make the front page headlines, it will not attract countless “likes,” and it will gather little notice amidst daily news, but it will come sure and true . . . in the hearts of our children as they run the hallways we continue to sweep, in our mothering souls as we pray and surrender our disappointments and trust the divine design deepening our hearts. It will come as we behold and glorify God for his loving provision that mysteriously stretches far and wide past our finite understanding.
It will come as the infant-God did, in the small and unsuspecting moments—as we serve up another round of steaming supper, as we laugh-out-loud with raucous boys, dance freely around the living room, and let go again. It will come in the muck and the mire of family messes, forgiveness, and falling forward into sustaining grace.
And as we lift up our eyes, we will “see, and abound” and our “heart(s) shall wonder and be enlarged” because motherhood is no small thing. God has called us into a vocation that changes the ground of our hearts and the course of history. The posture of our receptive hearts and the focus of our gaze in 2021 will serve the purposes of God to transform lives . . . even whole generations ahead of us, leaving evidence of hope, healing, and love in the wake.