Words are powerful things. Words, written and proclaimed, have started revolutions, brokered peace treaties, and founded nations. Whispered words have united hearts, formed families, and calmed anxieties. Words can call new realities into existence. Words can build up and words can destroy. Words have the power to clarify and to obscure.
Many of our everyday words have variations and degrees, expanding their meaning even further. Take, for example, the word “hope.” I hope it doesn’t rain today. I hope I get good birthday presents this year. I hope that new movie turns out to be good. I hope and pray that the test results come back with good news. All I have to cling to today is hope in the face of a terminal disease. Do you see what I mean?
Throughout Griffin and Spalding County are examples of hope budding and fruit ripening. Often in small plots of spiritual soil, these tender shoots are emerging and being nourished from the soil of hope and a rich experience of God’s presence, empowering and transforming lives.
“I see hope in the eyes of the women I work with after the very first class,” Jenny Flowers states. “They see genuine love and are surrounded by women that care what happens to them, prayer warriors that are praying for them, and a new vision for their life that captures them.”
Flowers is a leader in LifeSong Ministries, a faith-based organization in Griffin that exists to educate, encourage, and empower women by providing job-readiness and life skills to those who have the desire to improve their lives, but may lack the resources to do so. Originally founded by Nancy Anderson-Morris when she was living and attending church in Henry county, LifeSong was officially incorporated here in Spalding County in 2007.
Though it is the goal of these programs, hope can be difficult for those whose lives have been marked by tragedy and pain. How do you hope when when you have been the victim of persistent abuse? How do you hope when all you have known is generational poverty and struggle? How do you hope when a criminal record limits job options? How do you hope when you feel desperate, alone, and socially isolated? How do you hope when there are children depending on you and just not enough resources to match the ever-mounting need?
At the heart of LifeSong’s mission is a focus on connecting clients with their true identity. The core teaching of the program includes this reminder, reinforced over and over again: “Wherever I go, whatever I do, regardless of my circumstance, my character should remain unchanged.” Consequently, the program emphasizes to its clients that Godly character can open new doors and opportunities that have the potential to impact families for generations.
When asked why she is so passionate about her work with LifeSong, Flowers stated, “I feel called to this. This is what God has prepared my life for. It is a joy to be the hands and feet of Christ in God’s kingdom here on earth. Many times, a success is not the dramatic life change of television or Hollywood. Success may be a woman learning to make eye contact and smile when she speaks to you.
“Our goal is to celebrate these women – to remind them that they are worthy and deeply valued, both by God and by the team at LifeSong. Most importantly, the hope we offer is found as they learn to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and experience His love for them.”
For people of faith, hope is about more than just wish-fulfillment. Unlike its common usage, this hope is not based on uncertainty about the future. It is not based solely on circumstances or fluctuating factors of one’s day-to-day life.
Hope, in the biblical sense, is rooted and grounded in the love of God. It is a confident expectation and desire for good in the future. Hope is intimately connected to the concept of covenant – God’s ongoing presence and relationship with humanity. Covenants are built upon the foundation of God’s trust-worthy character and rooted in the idea that God will keep the promises that have been made.
Biblical hope is “being confident of this, that the God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). It is isn’t about wishing. It’s about trusting. It’s about believing. It’s about stepping out in faith, confident that the promises of God will not be forgotten nor forsaken.
As we seek to tap into this rich soil of hope, may we start with the places in our community where hope is already being displayed. May we take time to invest in the lives of those that society has pushed aside and all but forgotten. May we learn their names and take time to listen to their stories. May we slow down long enough to look into their eyes and affirm their value as daughters and sons of God. May we see ourselves reflected in their gaze and may the hope they feel from our love rub off a little on us as well.
If you are interested in learning more about LifeSong Ministries, please contact them at (404) 942-8564.
Rev. Steven Norris