She must have always loved the star, for she saw it when no one else could.
I sat beside her in her living room, admiring her Christmas tree. I asked her,
“Are some of these ornaments from your childhood?”
“Oh yes”, she answered, “many of them.”
“My family always goes through the stories and memories of each special one every year”, I said. I didn’t want to make her feel too nostalgic. I asked one more question.
“Do you have a favorite ornament?”
She answered quickly. “I love the star”, she answered.
I scanned the tree with my eyes. “Where is it?” I asked, not seeing it.
“It’s right there, at the top. The silver and gold one”.
I looked at the top. I did not see a star. There was nothing at the top.
“Well”, I stretched out my words, I don’t see it. There isn’t a star there”.
“It is right there”, she said, pointing. “Maybe If you come over here where I am you can see it.
”I humored her and crouched down beside her and looked up. “Uhhmm, nope. I don’t see it….but you do”, I said. And it’s okay. I just don’t have your eyes.
A couple days went by and I was there again. We were sitting together, and suddenly she looked at me and said, a little hesitantly, “the other girl can’t see the star either”.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I waited a couple seconds and then said, “you know, there is A story in here somewhere and I’m going to write it. We both laughed!
So I went home, prayed, thought and wrote:
Do you remember goodness and mercy? They’re the ones who follow us around all the days of our lives. You find them in the twenty-third Psalm. I used to think Shirley was the third one that tagged along with them, and then I learned, oh no, wrong word…it’s surely, of a certainty. They follow us whether we are among the green pastures of peace and safety or in the throes of death, unrest and despair. Goodness and mercy are very close behind. Sometimes we see them, and sometimes we don’t.
There are two other, what do I call them? I guess, attributes, that are close, that are visible to some, but not all.
We have all heard of them. They are faith and hope.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen.” (Heb 11:1 KJV)
Faith = substance and evidence
If I hope for nothing, I am absent of faith. There is nothing that warrants having faith. Likewise, If I have no faith, what I hope for is in vain. Reaping the benefits of either is contingent upon what I see.
What do you see that I don’t see? My friend saw a star. To her, that star was there. It was the one that was there every Christmas. It was a sure thing, a permanent, fastened object that was etched in her mind. She may have wanted others to see it, but we couldn’t. That didn’t mean she was going to deny seeing it. That also didn’t mean it wasn’t real. It was real.
Hope is like that. The evidence for my hope is my faith. My faith is my eyes.
What I hope for is Christ. Now I know who He is, that He was real on the Earth, that He died and rose again. I know that by the many historical accounts. No, I have never met Him face to face, or anyone who knew Him, just like I never met George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but by historical accounts, I believe in them and what they did. I have no reason not to and faith sees them.
I also know Christ by the Holy Spirit, who dwells on the Earth and is given to believers. But I have never seen the Holy Spirit either. Crazy, huh? I have faith which is the evidence of what I hope for. If I hope in something else, where is my evidence? Faith has eyes that see that which is unseen… but…which also is real.
This first candle lit for Advent is hope. Where is your hope? There were 400 years of silence between the last prophecy of Christ’s birth and His actual birth. But some had faith still. Faith was the evidence of their hope and hope was the result of their faith. One was contingent upon the other. If there was no faith nor hope in anyone, It still would not have annulled the promise. It all would have happened just the same, but hope and faith are gifts of God given so we can endure and wait for the promises of God to come to pass.
God has protected us with bookends. Goodness and mercy following us wherever we go, and faith and hope leading us through and bringing us out.
I have hope. I see it by faith. Do you see what I see?