“Hope is not what you’d expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale with a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming ending… Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks.” ~ Max Lucado
I’ve been reflecting on what hope is, what hope does, why hope matters. Maybe hope isn’t simply something you do. Maybe hope is actually also like a gift you receive. Maybe hope is about the journey of anticipation more than a desired destination. Maybe hope is a thrill ride – complete with moments of exhaustion, pit stops of angst, and turns of bleak and fearful nights. Hope is the unpredictable, wild, improbable faith that something better than we could ever dream of is awaiting us. Let me tell you about Eli because Eli helps explain why our weary souls can rejoice from the gift of hope.
Eli is 28 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. He started riding at Agape East this summer. When Eli’s dad came to Agape he was very tentative and nervous because of past experiences with various therapeutic efforts. Our team assured him we would take good care of Eli and make it the best experience possible. Dad was still hesitant so we began with a few observation visits. They came to the barn twice to observe other lessons and Eli loved being there and watching the other riders. You could see the hope in his eyes as he watched – the anticipation of riding was creating visible, tangible joy.
But then Eli became ill. Over the course of a few months, Eli was in the hospital no less than 6 times and almost lost his life. We stayed in touch with his dad to check in on him and to make sure he knew Agape was here when Eli was well.
Then the call came. The call from Eli’s dad saying he was doing well and ready to try riding.
Finally, this incredible day came. This picture is of Eli riding at Agape for the first time, enjoying a successful lesson for the first time in years. Both mom and dad were in tears watching their son, their healthy son, ride a horse again. Eli acted like he’d never skipped a beat. He tapped his horse, Duke, to go, said yes to questions in his own way, picked up rings and lasso’d the cow like a cowboy does. He even got to ride and hang out with other guys his age. We don’t know how long he’ll be healthy.
We don’t know how long he’ll be able to ride. But that day was Eli’s day and this year he rode. This was an injection of hope that brought strength to Eli’s whole family. That is a beautiful, pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming, gift of hope.
You see, at Agape we care for those who are weary everyday. We get the honor of caring for the weary in a very special and unique way. But to paint a picture for you that is all smiles without explaining why that smile exists does not honor the story. Joy is powerful because of the sadness and brokenness we feel before the joy. Strength is inspiring because of weakness. And hope is a gift that leads us to rejoice through the dark, weary times of life.
When you give to Agape, you bring joy to the weary. You instill hope, and in return you experience a thrill of hope also – the wild anticipation for the joy you know you will bring, the strength you know you give someone else, and the love you share for your neighbors through providing opportunity. You give hope. You receive the thrill of hope in return. How do I know you won’t regret giving to Agape? Because Eli is 1 rider of nearly 1,600 who was weary and now rejoices because of the generosity of cheerful supporters like you. And knowing you bring this kind of wild, unbridled hope for someone to ride at Agape will bring you immeasurable joy.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And as much joy, hope, and warmth you bring to us, we wish upon you and your family tenfold this Christmas season.
With heartfelt thanks,
Amanda Bocik & the entire Agape team
P.S. – We rejoice every time we think of you. There’s ❄ snow❄ way we could do this work without you.