A 1998 film, Hope Floats, is the story of a hurt and rejected wife (Sandra Bullock) and her daughter who return to the small town of her childhood to heal and rebuild her life.  She sinks into a depression and after a time, her mother (Gena Rowland) speaks into her pain, calling her out of her hopelessness.  As she faces down her daughter’s emotional paralysis, she says something like, “Sometimes you just have to wait for hope to float to the top again. “  Hope Floats (1998) – IMDb

Sometimes in life, when suffering hits in one form or another, you must choose to live, putting one foot in front of the other, working and caring for yourself and your family and friends, until hope resurfaces.  And don’t look for it in the form of the romantic drama where the woman or man of your dreams comes and sweeps you off into a fantasy escape from reality.

No, the hope that fulfills the yearning of our hearts usually comes in a much different package.  It is for us to recognize it when it comes.

Coming to Faith stories are my favorites.  Each one of a kind, each told out of the vulnerability of great need, each a story of a yearning search for something worth living for and believing in, something to carry us beyond our own limitations.

My journey of faith

When I think of my own faith journey, I realize that the vulnerability, the need, the yearning search for something beyond myself is still an active part of my faith experience.  Still needing purpose and meaning in what I do and how I live, I find myself still looking up and out—out beyond my limitations, to the God I have come to love because He first loved me.

Of course, most of the hopeless, muddy, cloud of confusion that dominated the years before I came to Christ melted away in the face of the Love of God I found in Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of God, searched for my attention the whole time I didn’t know I was looking for Him.

A couple of old hymns of the faith, new to me, were instrumental in rooting and grounding me in the reality of Jesus—His love, His Grace, His Truth—and in Jesus, the God of all Hope:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free.

 Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

  In the light of His glory and grace.

Helen Howarth Hemmel, 1983

It is still true that when I turn my eyes to Jesus, all else finds its proper place, way in the background waiting for the Lord to  move it forward in His timing, His strength and wisdom, His plan and His strategies to guide the way.   Any other way is fruitless.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest name, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand. 

Edward Mote, 1834

To train and equip me to persevere in my newfound way of life, the Lord placed in my hands the story of Howard Rutledge, a Vietnam prisoner of war, who told his story in a book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, revealing how he survived horrendous treatment during his captivity.  Under the constant brain-washing of the loudspeakers blaring, “God is Dead” Rutledge said he fought and fought and fought the message with memorized psalms, scripture, Sunday School songs, hymns, etc. until he just couldn’t anymore.  Finally, his mind and heart succumbed, and he thought and said aloud, “God is dead.”

But then, …… arising from somewhere deep within him, the words immediately followed, “but He will rise again!”

Why do I tell all this in a WGA blog post?  Because the stories I hear during group and discipleship sessions aren’t too different than mine—yearning, needing, wanting something better.  Or the circumstances of their lives have them buried.  And it occurs to me that if Howard Rutledge could survive to tell his story, we all might persevere in the same way.  As Howard Rutledge found after failing in the fight to resist the enemy’s barrage, hope floats to the top again as the strength of the Lord takes over when our strength fails.  His grace is sufficient.

I will wrap up with an excerpt from a previous WGA blog post written by anonymous group members:

“So, is my life a huge disappointment or a living dream?   Actually, it is both. When I talk to people about it, the hope inspired by Jesus enlivens my story.  Jesus as God incarnate could handle “God-sized” disappointments, so I can hope that mine which are merely human will be redeemed as well.”  (Anonymous, Aug. 2020)  Hope Does Not Disappoint Us – Where Grace Abounds


Mary Heathman

Mary Heathman

Founding Director

Mary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007.  She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development.  Currently serving in leadership in her denomination, Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development.

Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation.  Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.

Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.

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