Hope Floats

By Linda Tancs

Entering a body of water (even a pool) as a nonswimmer can be intimidating. That’s one reason why a place like the Dead Sea is so exciting. Given its high salt content (almost 10 times that of normal sea water), you float rather than sink. How pleasant not to need a life vest!

The Dead Sea reminds me of the expression “hope floats.” Indeed, hope is buoyant, and you don’t need to float in the Dead Sea to get it. Everyone can experience the buoyancy that hope brings. It uplifts the spirit, bringing joy (Proverbs 10:28), courage (2 Corinthians 3:12) and redemption (Psalm 130:7). The next time you’re floating in a pool, think of that.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

Mind the Gap

By Linda Tancs

The British use the expression “mind the gap” to call attention to gaps at train station platforms—that abyss bridging where you are from where you want to be. The gap is a good metaphor for life transitions, where your “now” is not where you ultimately want to remain.

Sound familiar? Sometimes we sidestep life’s gaps—it’s too hard, too lonely, too uncertain. We stay stuck in the “now” but then try to avoid even that by reminiscing about the “good old days” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, embrace the gap and all its messy steps and details. Contrary to popular thought, the devil isn’t in the details—God is (Proverbs 16:9).

Our Better Angels

By Linda Tancs

Human nature pivots between good and evil. Abraham Lincoln recognized that in his first inaugural address, when he appealed to the better, more virtuous instincts of the nation in a time of great strife with his turn of phrase, “the better angels of our nature.” An old Cherokee story relates this conflict between good and evil, wherein a grandfather tells his grandson that two wolves battle within him—one exhibiting things like evil, anger, resentment and ego and the other showing compassion, serenity, hope and faith. When the grandson asks which wolf wins, the grandfather replies, “The one I feed.”

Feed your better angels, and live in the fullness of God (Deuteronomy 30:19).

What Kind of Tree Are You?

By Linda Tancs

Journalist Barbara Walters once asked actress Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be. Hepburn likened herself to an oak tree. Not a bad choice. After all, the oak tree is a symbol of power and strength. And the Bible says that we should be like a tree firmly planted (Psalm 1:3).

Like an oak, a firmly planted tree is stable. So what does stability look like? For starters, it’s properly managing the past, present and future. Leave the past behind (Philippians 3:13). Be confident in God’s promise to provide in your current circumstances (Malachi 3:10). Remain hopeful for the future (Hebrews 6:19; Jeremiah 29:11).

So, what kind of tree are you?

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

Flavor of the Month

By Linda Tancs

You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “flavor of the month.” It means a person or thing enjoying a short period of great popularity. Applied in the negative, it’s the state you’ve lost when your stock drops, so to speak. Depending on your circumstance, it may mean you’re no longer relevant, on trend, winning, and so on—to your family, friends, employer or acquaintances. Maybe you’ve become, as the late film star Katharine Hepburn famously put it, “box office poison.”

Jesus could relate. One day they’re cheering Him in the streets (Matthew 21:1-11) at His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and just days later another throng wants Him crucified (Matthew 27:22-23). However badly you feel about your own situation, His loss of reputation led to a loss of life—that is, until the Resurrection. So take heart. You, too, can arise anew. Life is full of second chances. As another adage goes, everything old is new again.

The Light Within

By Linda Tancs

Author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true meaning is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

That’s a good reminder to find the light within you. All the time. And everywhere—on the grocery line, at the doctor’s office, in the chemo room. Strive to be full of light—and life—in all circumstances. Why? Because we are like light for the whole world (Matthew 5:14-16). No one ever said life would be easy, fun or painless—all the more reason not to be immune to the wonders of the life all around you. Be vibrant.

It’s Okay to Wobble

By Linda Tancs

If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably remember the Weebles toy—“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Think of that toy as a metaphor for life. Each of us needs to bounce back in the face of setbacks. Maybe you’ve fallen short in some area of your life—marriage, career, parenting. Just don’t settle for lack; get back on the horse, as the saying goes.

Discouragement scourges and oppresses progress. Consider the Israelites, whose grumbling and complaining kept them out of the Promised Land, ultimately for 40 years even though the journey was roughly only 11 days (Numbers 14:2-4; Deuteronomy 1:2). And then there’s Abraham’s father, Terah, who set out with his family in tow for Canaan but then settled for Haran (Genesis 11:31). In each case, the parties outright surrendered to discouragement and thwarted the progress God intended for them.

Wobble if you must, but don’t surrender (see Proverbs 24:16). Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Pray for the strength to hold on and not give up (Luke 18:1). You can’t reap a harvest without tending to the field (Galatians 6:9).

 

 

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habakkuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habakkuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habakkuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habakkuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habakkuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

Rock of Ages

By Linda Tancs

I’m captivated by large boulders, especially those with a history. In New York City alone, the giant outcroppings framing many of the city’s most prominent open spaces arise from bedrock ranging in age from 1.1 billion to 190 million years old. Those are rocks of ages, but not the Rock.

The Lord is often referred to as our Rock, especially in the Psalms (see, e.g., Psalm 18:31; 28:1; 42:9; 62:7; 78:35; 92:15; 94:22 and 144:1). It’s a particularly apt metaphor, considering that rocks symbolize strength and stability. In biblical terms, a rock also presents a place of refuge, as David discovered on his many retreats from the threats of Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-7). And during the exodus, a rock represented a miraculous source of water for the Israelites (Deuteronomy 8:15). In summary, a rock symbolizes strength, protection and provision. Is it any wonder that it’s used so frequently in the Bible to refer to God, our true Rock of Ages?