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Hope and Strategy

We read Isaiah 49:1–12 for our morning devotion today. It’s a prophecy directed to the Jewish exiles in the land of Babylon. The scripture gives voice to feelings of failure on the part of God’s people. It also gives voice to God’s determination to bring them home and launch them on a new adventure in ministry.

Exile is an experience we can relate to. The pandemic has exiled us from 16 Hitt Street. Maybe we feel discouraged at what has become of our years of service to the Lord. So did the Jewish people in exile. “I have labored in vain,” they complained.

But God worked through the politics and wars of the period to bring the Jewish people home from exile. And God is at work bringing the pandemic to an end. Our exile from 16 Hitt St. is not forever!

What is more, God had greater plans for the Jewish people than homecoming. “It is too light a thing that you should… restore the survivors of Israel,” God says. “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” If we dream of things getting back to normal, our dreams may be too small! God’s dream for us is that we bring salvation to people who aren’t even on our horizon now.

I felt great hope as I read this passage this morning. But I am mindful of that old saying, “Hope is not a strategy.” Fortunately, we have a strategy too! We have the five goals for our congregation that the Session established in 2019. We have the recommendations of our consultant, Bill Tenny-Brittian, about how to be a growing and healthy congregation.

Strategy puts meat on the bones of hope. Hope determines the strategies and objectives we ought to implement. Now, will you help us marry hope and strategy and fulfill the prophecy to bring salvation to the ends of the earth?

If so, there are two things you can do. The first is read your Bible daily through the lens of hope. What do the scriptures encourage you to hope for? The second is serve on one of our ministry teams. Our ministry teams are where the work of the church gets done. They will be reviewing, perhaps modifying, and implementing our consultant’s recommendations. Call or email me or one of the other staff members of First Presbyterian, and we will match up your gifts with the team that’s right for you!

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