Because Living in Hope Beats Living in Fear

After thirty months, I have come to the end of the biggest writing project of my life: a 200-year-history of Massachusetts General Hospital (left, in its original form, the Bulfinch Building). Tuesday, I brought the manuscript to the copy editor, all 213,000 words of it. While I have a thousand loose ends to tie up (epilogue writing, photo editing, caption writing, etc.), I have begun to scan the horizon and ask: What’s next?

I have nothing in prospect, nothing definite anyway, certainly nothing with the heft of the MGH book. Where that project has provided a large portion of my income since the beginning of 2008, the bits and pieces of work that I know are in front of me for the rest of this year and next will provide relatively little. Twenty years ago, the situation would have worried me, terrified me. Today not.

There are rational reasons for fearlessness: I have been a writer of private memoirs and organizational histories off and on for these twenty-plus years. My name is “out there.” The phone will ring. And probably, when I get the office cleaned and the loose ends tied, I’ll do some networking too, and that will “pay off.” But meanwhile, I haven’t even a twinge of worry, not even when I wake up in the middle of the night.

Why do I experience hope instead of fear? Because I really, truly believe (I must, I wouldn’t feel as I do if I didn’t) that the Lord will provide. Give us this day our daily bread, we ask, and He does. While I clean the office and put out feelers for other work, the real effort I can and wish to make is to put Christ at the center of my mind, my heart, life. Then everything will take care of itself, or rather He will take care of it. Not because I deserve it or because I am somehow special, but because that’s what He does.

  • John Hetman

    Yours is the only way to really live. Thank you for expressing it so well, so simply.

  • Mary P.

    Congratulations, Webster! We hope that, you'll be spending a little more time here, on the blog you started. Although Frank and Allison have done their usual fabulous work, I've missed you!

  • Anonymous

    Webster,Congratulations!!! And welcome back… I'm only one of so many who have missed you these past weeks. This post was short and sweet, but oh-so- to-the-point. Especially today. Thank you for "coming through" once again.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, Mary and Anon,Posting two days in a row after most of a month away makes me nervous, because I don't know if it will continue. A week ago, I would have said, I can't see myself resuming this. Now, who knows? I sure don't.

  • Anonymous

    Webster – I like your attitude. I sometimes look at birds outside my window finding daily food to eat and surviving and sometimes even singing. This sight makes me realize that He really does and will provide for us as He will for you. Enjoy what future plans He has for you and soak up the Joy that follows. – Carl in Springfield, Missouri

  • Sebastian Paul

    Your outlook about life is an intelligent one. It usually brings good results.Thanks,

  • Anonymous

    Webster, glad you're back! It is amazing to me how much we 'know' about the things Jesus said and how little we take them seriously (me included, a few years ago).When He said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you", He meant it. But how hard for us to believe that. How hard to let go of the things we cling to and start leaning on Him…. This is something I have learnt after a lot of unnecessary worrying and fretting. And it is something I don't know how to explain to someone else. But you have said it absolutely right. Thank you. Rose

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. I needed to read this today!

  • Anushree

    Congrats on the writing project! And thank you for the reminder that God does provide.

  • ThereseRita

    I keep saying that there are many many good things about turning 60 (which I will be this year) that no one ever told me about…not that I would've listened! But, among them, I'd have to include the peace that you're talking about. Looking back, I can see that the road was winding & uphill alot of the way but the Lord always provided & never made it all more than we could handle. So, if someone admires my faith, I just have to tell them that its not really faith-in-the-unknown, like they assume, but just experience with God & how he works with me!

  • Stefanie

    What an accomplishment, Webster! Congrats. In bible study last week, as we concluded the Gospel of John, we considered WHY Chapter 21 was even needed. Wasn't everything concluded with Chapter 20? My take: even though the disciples and the apostles had had seen the Resurrected Lord and He had breathed on them, giving them the Holy Spirit and the power to do so much good in His name….Chapter 21 begins with the apostles back in a boat, back fishing – as if nothing had ever happened. In John's gospel there is no build up to a Pentecost event(that's Luke's bag). Not only do the apostles go back to their old lives and their old way of living, they also don't even recognize Jesus who is talking to them from the shore. Talk about dense! When Jesus later has his little 'chat' with Peter — he doesn't address him as "Peter" or "Simon Peter" — since their last chat, Peter has denied him, failed to stand by the cross, gone back to his old profession, and is unable to recognize Jesus unless Jesus is doing something 'familiar' to Peter. Peter's not the 'rock' on whom Jesus will build the Church. He's just back to being "Simon, son of John." Just a fisherman. Then Jesus blatantly begins to ask Simon Peter, "Do you love me?" Three times. Each time, Jesus follows Simon Peter's "Yes" with a reference to sheep. Not fish. Sheep. Lambs. Sheep. I, too, had my secular life. Five years I walked away from it and haven't looked back. The economy has gotten worse. We just found out that our home has lost 80% of the value it had four years ago. We've had our home since 1988 — and we are $50k away from 'breaking even' on our original purchase price. My husband is hoping to be five years away from retirement — if the city doesn't cut more workers. Our children are finishing or entering college. Most of their friends don't have jobs. It's rough out there…in that sea of chaos. One thing remains — Jesus. He wants each of us for something more than we've ever been before.Cool!

  • Webster Bull

    Beautiful, Stefanie. Thanks for sharing these insights and especially the real details of your life. Personally, I don't even want to know what our home isn't worth! But that's not the rock on which our life is built.

  • Frank

    "213,000 words of it"…not even a years worth of blogging?! (LOL) ;)

  • Webster Bull

    213,000 words is blogging before breakfast for us guys, huh?