A Cup of Hope
By Tammy Johnson
Every mug was lined up on the counter like a row of ceramic soldiers ready for battle. Only this was not your typical battle. This fight was not for land, prestige, or the cause of the oppressed. This was a fight to be still.
My husband was a senior pastor, leading a church of people we dearly loved. Yet we were growing restless. We could not put our finger on where the restlessness stemmed from, but it was there. We both felt it.
After much prayer, we agreed that God was beginning the process of moving us on. We had experienced this before, and the signs were easily recognized.
That began a season like none other we had ever experienced. God started to lead us, only to then stop, and tell us to stay put and be patient. In many ways, we felt like Abraham being told to "go," but given no specific direction as to just where to go.
So we waited ... sort of.
From the moment my husband and I had prayed and agreed that the Lord was moving us on, I began to pack. Closets full of junk were cleaned out, with most of it going to charity and the rest carefully packed and stored away, waiting for our moving day.
It didn't take long for the phone to begin ringing with people seeking my husband for various positions. We prayerfully considered each offer; certain that one of them would be the next place God would lead us. But no matter how many offers, we had no peace in our souls and had to reject them all. We knew none of them were the next step.
One day as I packed, I cried out in desperation, "Lord, what are you doing?" I did not understand why He had made it so clear to us that we were to move on, yet wouldn't release us from the ministry we were in or give us a direction to move toward.
This process continued for months, until almost a year had passed with no change in our status. We were growing very weary and discouraged. It was becoming increasingly difficult to make plans for moving our current ministry forward when we felt like we should have been gone already. Patience was growing thin, and our hope that the wait would soon be over began to wane.
That is when I lined up our ceramic soldiers to sort through. The fortunate mugs were wrapped and packed into a box on my right that would later join the other fortunate boxes in the corner of the garage. The less fortunate ones went into the box at my left labeled, "Goodwill" and would join the ones already waiting in the van for delivery.
I prayed as I wrapped the mugs. It had become a familiar process. I would ask the Lord to please open up the door he wanted us to walk through. I pleaded for wisdom to know if we should be pursuing something else. And then I would wait.
This time, he answered.
I reached for a mug with a verse on it. I couldn't remember where it had come from, but I knew right away it was going to be a keeper. The verse was Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…" (New International Version)
The other side of the mug had my husband's name on it, along with the words "Strength in God" printed underneath it.
A smile curled my lips as an idea popped into my head. I knew exactly what I needed to do.
I finished my task and began to prepare our lunch. When my husband came home to join us for the meal, he found his place set with a mug instead of a glass. I met his confused look with a plea for him to read what it said.
When he had finished reading, I smiled and said, "Super heroes."
He gave me another confused look, of course, so I clarified.
"Do you know how strong we are going to be when this is all done? Super heroes!"
For the next six months, that became our theme as we continued to pack and wait.
Finally, the phone call came that opened the door that stayed open. The time of waiting and growing in our faith was almost complete. Five weeks later, when the moving van arrived, we were ready to load up.
There have been times since that season when we have needed to recall the lessons learned--lessons of trust, patience and hope. We can truly say we have experienced walking by faith and not by sight. We have grown weary, only to be refreshed in our waiting. We have soared through uncertainty and finally settled on the faithfulness of God.
And now when we read about Abraham? We just smile.
TAMMY JOHNSON is a pastor's wife and the mother of two adorable children (boy and girl). Her passion is leading people to Jesus--especially Christians--to help set them free from the bondage and lies Satan can still trap them in. Tammy has no doubt that God created her to be a proclaimer of his power, love, and character. If you would like to write to Tammy, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.