As a person of habit, I do what I need to do to get ready in the exact same order everyday. From brushing my teeth to getting our little one ready, each day of the week looks the same. And when it is time to leave for work, every morning I back out of my garage, roll down my front passenger window, and wave goodbye to my three dogs. I call them each by name and tell them I’ll be back soon.
Unless it is raining outside, they are always there to watch me depart. Oliver, Lily, and Lola each stand at the fence and watch until my car is out of sight. I hate to leave them like that… I almost prefer to leave when the weather is bad because they stay inside and I don’t have to look at their sad faces. But even though it is hard to leave them, anyone with a dog knows that the excitement of coming home makes up for the guilt in leaving. All three of our dogs will rush to the door jumping and barking and wagging their tails to greet us at the door. Having dogs makes returning home after a long day so much more rewarding!
I have to say though, as fun as that is to see, what I love even more is what my dog Lola does. Sweet Lola sits outside all afternoon in anticipation of my return. When the other two are sleeping the day away inside, Lola waits and watches the road for hours until she sees my car pull into the driveway. She will stand up and watch until I open the garage door and wave out the window. At that point, when she knows I have finally returned, she stampedes inside to beat the others to greet me.
Lola can do the long, arduous work of waiting because she knows I will return. She knows I will return because I return everyday. Some days are longer than others. Quite often she has to wait in the heat, other days in the cold…if it is raining, she waits in the rain. Of course, most days the weather is fine and it isn’t a sacrifice to lay out in the sun, but Lola can face the hot, the cold, the rain, and the storms, because Lola is full of assurance that what she is waiting for will eventually come.
In his letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul says, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Lola has endurance that is inspired by hope. As this very strenuous year comes to an end and we find ourselves tired and weary, may we too be filled with endurance that is inspired by
hope. As individuals, as a church, and as a community, we have dealt with countless inconveniences and hardships this year. No matter how dark or difficult our days have been, let us encourage one another to keep the faith and live lives full of love and grace because we have hope that God will never leave us in the dark places. He is ever present, ever working, and ever moving us onward as people who are stronger and kinder than who we were before. The potter has us in his hands.
Thanks to Lola for that reminder this week as we celebrate the start of advent and we light the HOPE candle.