The Annunciation - Luke 1: 26-38
It begins. You get this idea, this offer, or this invitation to do something. It's brilliant, fascinating, and powerful. It's also frightening. It's going to mean big changes for you. You aren't sure you're ready. You aren't sure you're the right person.
At this stage, you have two choices: let it go and pretend it didn't happen, or grab hold of it and accept that if you have the idea, you have what it takes to make it. Accept that if you received the offer or the invitation, it's because you were meant to accept it.
You allow Hope to be conceived in you. You commit to it, and you decide that you will transform that idea into a reality. Now it's time to get to work.
The Visitation - Luke 1: 39-57
Once Hope is in you, it urges you to act. It insists on being shared with others. Resist that urge to share, and your dream begins to wither on the vine. The idea dies. The invitation is fruitless. The offer dissipates.
Take it out into the world, though, and you face dangers. You're going to have to go a long way through some dangerous territory to find someone out there who can give you the confirmation and the support you need to make this dream a reality. The journey will tire you out. There will be people out there who will try to snatch your idea, kill your dream, or take Hope from you. You have to decide to brave that gauntlet anyway and continue on your journey.
You make the decision to persist in bringing that idea to the right authority and when you do, you receive an incredible confirmation and a tremendous blessing. In fact, you both do. In working together, you both grow and both become more fruitful. You spread Hope and your vision to others.
The Nativity - Luke 2: 1-20, Matthew 2:1-12
You have made your idea a reality, but it is puny and weak. It's under threat from a lot of areas. The circumstances in which you find yourself are nothing like what you expected. The only people who seem to listen to you are the outcasts and those who have even less than you do.
Bringing Hope into the world has cost you a great deal. You've had to leave behind the comfortable and the familiar. You are surrounded by those who absolutely do not understand a bit of what you are trying to accomplish and they keep dumping manure on the ground in front of you.
It's frustrating, it's discouraging, and the only thing keeping you from giving up on your dream and keeping that newborn hope to yourself is the bright light of the possibilities you've seen shining overhead. You know it's got to be shared no matter how painful or difficult it is.
You'll be tempted to move out of this place as quickly as possible, but if you do, hope will die. There are threats that are bigger than you know out there hunting for your dream, eager to kill it because they fear what you can accomplish. You are where you are because this is where you need to be in order for your three mentors to find you.
If you stay put, you will be rewarded with three different mentors. These mentors will bring you gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and encouragement. They will help you by pointing out the source of the dangers to your dream and the encounter with you will change both of your directions.
They will not be able to go back to being who they are after their time with you, and you will be given the courage to take your dream straight into the heart of enemy territory by their visit. They will help you defeat your fears by confronting their source.
The Presentation - Luke 2: 21-38
When the mentors are gone, it will be time to present yourself and Hope to the greater authorities. It won't be easy. There will still be those out there looking to destroy your dream. You will have to persevere in spite of those threats. The right authority won't always be the first one you speak to.
Some of those authorities will dismiss your dream because they can't see its possibilities. It doesn't meet their expectations. It isn't their vision. Some of those authorities will try to kill your dream out of envy or fear. You'll have to protect your dream and persist in finding the right authority, the one who can help you launch it and prepare it for greater things.
The right authority has been waiting for an idea like yours for a very long time. Their entire life, in fact. They will recognize it instantly for what it is. They will confirm to you its potential and power and they will provide you with additional warnings about what you must prepare for on the road ahead.
The Finding in the Temple - Luke 2:41-52
At some point in time, the journey gets tough. Hope seems to vanish. The potential that shone so brightly just weeks or even days before dim and fade from view. Every indication that you normally use to judge whether or not you are on the right path just disappears. You put all this work and effort into things only to experience loss. You feel like a failure. You have no idea what happened.
You wonder if it’s you. Did you somehow make a mistake? Did you forget something? Your expectations of how things are supposed to progress will lead you to become distressed and dismayed. You will wonder if the dream is dead or harmed.
Discouragement and doubt creep into your heart. Discouragement tells you that you should just quit. This isn’t worth it. It’s too hard. You’ve made a mistake. Nothing you’re doing is making a difference anyway.
Doubt will make you wonder if you’re kidding yourself. How could you believe that you received that invitation? How could you possibly have believed that the offer is real? How could you ever make a real difference? You’re just you. You’re nobody special.
And if you listen to doubt and discouragement, you will quit. You will give up. You will turn back and you will be defeated. But this isn’t how it’s meant to go. When doubt and discouragement show up, what it means is that you’re closer to a big breakthrough than you’ve ever been in your whole life. It’s time to go all-in and step on the gas.
But first, you need to understand what discouragement and doubt are really telling you. Discouragement tells you that you need to check your compass – why are you doing this? What’s going to change if you succeed? You need to figure out why you are doing all this work. What’s the point of it all? Because if it’s not being done for the right reasons, it won’t be worth doing at all.
Doubt tells you that you don’t have enough information. You need more confirmation that your plan is going to work. So take it out and use it. Serve others with it. Get that vital feedback you need to help reassure yourself that what you have is good and worth doing. And then get back out there.
Look for confirmation. Eventually, if you keep looking, you will find it. What is happening right now is that there are forces at work on your behalf. Connections are being made while you sleep to bring together the forces you will need to help make your dream a reality. Far from being dead, your dream is hard at work maturing into the powerhouse that it must become to transform the world in ways you'd never even imagined were possible.
Tomorrow's Offering: The Luminous Mysteries and Hope
I hope you'll come back tomorrow when I discuss the role of the Luminous Mysteries in helping you hold on to hope during difficult times.