Thursday, April 14, 2005


Hope Deferred (and the Knowledge of the Heart)

I am in a sad place today and I can't shake it or even place where it originates. I spoke to Mrs. Dadmanly yesterday, and we had a great talk about how God is working in both of us and our lives. I also got some very encouraging news about Little Manly and his baseball, too. We did talk about how, after periods of real exhilaration on the mountain top, we sometimes experience the let down of "so now what?"

I have committed to spending more time with my troops, so I've been "out and about." It's important for me to do that, but it's not always pleasant, because there are always problems. The men and women here tend to keep alot to themselves, they make do, they get by, and grit their teeth. But if a leader stops and takes the time, and listens, and lets them know he or she cares, sometimes you hear things that you almost wish you hadn't.

But in the end, you know you need to hear, so that you can act. You can fix what's broke. You can teach, you can encourage, you can make a difference and let the troops know they're important, and their problems are a shared concern.

There has been a lot of activity in the region lately, which reminds us all that there are still dangers. Lots of sounds, and even explosions quite a distance a way -- far more often outgoing as incoming, or even outside our FOB -- can cause quite a compression of air. Everything rattles.

I am also anxious for a sequence of things here, nothing too difficult, but a series of small aggravations or stresses. I also need to get up early for one of our routine convoys, and it's part of the flow of life here, but I usually don't play a leading role in these. And of course, I want everything prepared in advance, so there's all of that to deal with.

But as always when you seek God and inquire of His word, He knows exactly what you need to hear.

Proverbs 13:12

12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 14:10, 13, 26

10The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.

13Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,
And the end of mirth may be grief.

26In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.

We carry so much around in our hearts. We were designed to be full of hope, we are creations of promise. We each of us are crafted with a full measure of the bounty of His blessings, but so many of us neglect to seek where we might fill ourselves up.

By storing up and dwelling on our sadnesses and slights, hurts and fears, we make ourselves "heartsick" in the meaning here. We have desires, sometimes unheathly, but even in the most jaded, there are desires for peace and happiness, fulfillment and purpose. And sometimes despie ourselves, when we reach those desires or in His grace He gives us some unexpected fulfillment of almost unhoped for joy, our spirits can soar like that "tree of life."

We need to ask God to work on those pieces of bitterness, on those remnants of lostness in our hearts. Sometimes it's doubt or fear. Sometimes it's unforgiveness, or a sense of our unforgiven-ness. Fear of the Lord, as we've discussed before, doesn't reference the frightened reaction to a terrible menace or danger, but rather an awe and deep respect for the name that is above all names, the God of all creation, who would be terrible to truly behold but Who's love and mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

And until such time as our hearts life and lighten, until such time as joy flows as returning tides, until then, God will keep us His children in refuge. We are not alone and adrift, but kept snug in the promises of the Lord.

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