Hope and a Future

(Read Ephesians 2)

Hope and a FutureHis shift was over. He couldn’t reach his replacement, so after a 12 hour shift he jumped in the flight for life helicopter for the distress call that came in. After circling a remote, rocky set of mountain peaks and cliffs, the crew determined there was only enough fuel for one more pass, or they’d never have enough gas to be able to fly the wounded to a trauma center. On that last reconnaissance, they saw a tiny figure waving a colorful emergency banner in the middle of an indistinct field of grey and brown rocks.

“To prevent him from bleeding out, we had to apply a tourniquet,” someone said. There was so much blood loss, and his bones were poking through his skin; an emergency rescue would be the only way to save his life. Shock was imminent. (J) and her friend (W) were doing everything they could to keep (N) awake and alive. It was too steep, too remote, and too close to dark to try to hike their way out. Flight for Life was the only hope.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

The flight nurse was supposed to be off duty on this call. Earlier that day, he was hit by a deer while driving to work and nearly missed a disastrous accident. Since his shift replacement couldn’t be reached, he decided to stay on for the next emergency. “When we finally found their location, we determined there was no way we could reach the injured party with the helicopter,” (M) said. “So without the proper gear, I climbed down to assist the IP to assess him and start an IV.”

Protocol and common sense told (M) to wait for appropriate climbing equipment or an extraction team — but something deeper was going on. Something bigger. When we’re in the middle of chaos, we must rely on something. We often make judgment calls based on what we’ve done before based on what we know. God tells us to trust in Him. With all our heart, to acknowledge Him, to lean on Him.

No matter the situation, we are commanded to include God in everything we do. Especially in the worst, most hectic times, it’s essential to let God do the heavy lifting. If this weren’t the case, He wouldn’t have told us to “lean on Him.” We don’t know what lies ahead. Trusting Him puts us on the right path; He knows where we’re headed and where we should be going.

This verse about trust shows us that we have a part, and God has a part. Our part is to boldly believe in His ability to lead us without doubt or skepticism. God’s part is the promise to keep our paths straight.

“I’ve been advised by my superiors to never approach a descent situation like that again, without the right gear or team,” (M) laughed. He filled us in on many other things that happened during that life-changing event. This past weekend, we attended our daughter’s pinning ceremony from nursing school. We also met the coordinator who connected the Flight for Life crew with the National Guard, our daughter (J), and (N)’s family. There were so many people working together to avert a bigger tragedy. “You were calm in the middle of this,” (M) told my daughter when he saw her in the hospital after the rescue. “You showed true signs of being a great nurse,” he added.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

A close friend of mine has been dealing with debilitating chronic pain for years. You wouldn’t know it from her positive attitude, but her condition has tried everything possible to change the shape of her life. She has endured treatments, medication, therapy, and sleepless nights. “Nothing has helped,” she told me. Support from family, friends and a ton of prayer is getting her through this. Despite the agony of her daily condition, she somehow manages to live the outward appearance of a happy life. She hosts a prayer group, is active in church, and lives a busy life with a husband, two children, and two grandchildren. I’m always amazed at her attitude!

Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous Bible verse often used to comfort people through difficult times. The verse reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

This verse was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites who were about to be exiled to Babylon. The Israelites felt hopeless and afraid, but Jeremiah assured them God had a plan for them. He told them that God would not abandon them but would use their time in exile to bless them and give them a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 is another promise from God that He is always in control, even when things seem hopeless. God has good plans for us, even when we cannot see them. It is a call to trust God and to hope for the future. When going through difficult times, we are reminded that God has not abandoned us; He is in charge and working for our good.

Ironically, I am reassured and comforted by (Y)’s extraordinary faith because she’s living with this daily ball and chain. She uses God’s promises to carry her forward one day at a time. God thinks about us all the time. It’s not a past tense action; it’s all the time and every day.

(Y) had a lengthy surgery last week to remediate her situation. While the surgeon reported a lot of damage, he said she should start feeling better as she recovers. Better is great! (Y) has a deep well of a living testimony for Christ. I saw her walking around the yard today, and she carried herself as if she had never had surgery. It’s the people who live with the most challenge and the most suffering that show the most faith and the most grace.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Woody Allen once joked, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” It is natural for us to make plans, yet there are so many things that happen in our lives beyond our control that we need to be open to the possibility that God may have a different plan for us. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that we should be willing to adjust our plans as needed.

That fateful day in the mountains 115 miles west of Denver, God planted a seed in our daughter’s head that changed her life. Seeing God’s hands at work through the Flight for Life crew, the Blackhawk hoist operators, the coordinators, and the medical staff in the level 1 trauma center changed all their lives. When talking with the coordinator in charge of the entire operation, she said that in her many years of service, this was only the second instance of putting all these pieces together. Typically, Colorado National Guard’s Blackhawks are hours away from this area, but on that warm July night, they just happened to be in the air already, nearby from at canceled mission, and were pivotal in the rescue.

Before the ceremony last weekend, bright-eyed, smiling, and looking directly at me, was (N) — the “injured party.” He gave me a huge hug. I hadn’t seen him in over two-and-a-half years before the accident. It was a tipping point for him too. He seemed more confident, happier, and more focused than I recall he ever was. He’s climbing again and walking great, even if he won’t be a marathon runner. (N) is a gifted videographer. He’s laser-focused on finding a full-time position with an organization that will display his talents and allow him to grow. It’ll happen.

God puts people in our lives for reasons only He knows. The sheer number of things that had to happen, the special people pieced together at precisely the right time to save (N)’s life, was no coincidence. His dad commented, “We are truly thankful and see how God was deeply involved in saving (N)’s life. So many things had to go just right for him to be with us. Maybe we will have the opportunity to meet all those involved and thank them personally someday. The flight nurse would certainly be at the top of that list.”

After the graduation ceremony, we had a chance to talk and reflect. The personal growth in everyone involved alone was staggering to witness. I have never seen my daughter work harder, be calmer, or be more confident than she is right now. “Even if I don’t choose to be a flight nurse when I fulfill my requirements,” she said, “I know that I’ll make a difference in people’s lives in an ICU.” She used to stress about not being in control or when events would overtake her. That’s not who she is now. I’m not going to say that God created this event, but I firmly believe He orchestrated the people He needed to get the outcome He wanted. Everyone I talked with said, “I’m honored to be a part of this story.” That’s humility. It’s grace. It’s putting the glory where glory is due — on God.

When we trust in God and follow His lead, He will direct our steps. He will lead us down the path that is best for us, even if it is not the path we would have chosen for ourselves.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

Key Applications:

  1. What does it mean that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works”? We are all created with a purpose, and God wants us to use our gifts and talents to do good in the world. Are you?
  2. What are some of the good works that God has prepared for us to do? Are you loving and serving others, sharing the gospel with those who do not know Christ, standing up for what is right, and helping those in need? Pray that you increase in this area.
  3. How can we be sure that we are doing God’s will? Usually, we know. If you don’t, consider praying for guidance, reading the Bible, and seeking the counsel of godly people.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.

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