Sending Hope to Florida
Never underestimate the power of hope!
The Old Testament word for hope has the connotation of a cord, used as an attachment; the New Testament calls it “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Hope is a lifeline, a stabilizer.
In 1965 during a family reunion in Florida, a grandmother woke everyone at 1:00 AM, issuing orders to get empty Coke bottles, corks, and paper. “I’ve received a message from God,” she said. “People must hear His Word.” She wrote verses on the paper while the grandchildren bottled and corked them. Then everyone deposited over two hundred bottles into the surf at Cocoa Beach.
People contacted and thanked her for the Scriptures throughout the years. She died in November 1974. The next month the last letter arrived.
Dear Mrs. Gause,
I’m writing this letter by candlelight. We no longer have electricity on the farm. My husband was killed in the fall when the tractor overturned. He left eleven young children and myself behind. The bank is foreclosing, there’s one loaf of bread left, there’s snow on the ground, and Christmas is two weeks away. I prayed for forgiveness before I went to drown myself. The river has been frozen over for weeks, so I didn’t think it would take long. When I broke the ice, a Coke bottle floated up. I opened it, and with tears and trembling hands, I read about hope.
Ecclesiastes 9:4: “But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.”
You went on to reference other Scriptures: Hebrews 7:19; 6:18; John 3:3. I came home and read my Bible, and now I’m thanking God for the message. We’re going to make it now. Please pray for us, but we’re all right.
May God Bless you and yours.
A Farm in Ohio (1)
How did this life-saving Coke bottle make a nine-year journey all the way from Cocoa Beach, Florida, to a river in Ohio? Not just any river, mind you, but the right river, near the right farm, at the right time.
I can almost hear the “Mrs. Gause Coke Bottle Angel Patrol” heaving a sigh of relief when the last message of hope was delivered nine years after it had been sent. And I can imagine God’s explanation to the angels: “This last one will be a Christmas present, much like the first one I delivered to hopeless humans two thousand years ago.”
Coke bottles were transferred into hope bottles - three of the four verses in the bottle were about hope. Interesting. The bottles didn’t contain verses regarding power, miracles, or even provision, all of which this lady desperately needed. Why? Because these things are produced after we hope. The demoralizing power of hopelessness paralyzes the soul; hopeless hearts can’t reach out in faith.
Hope is to the heart what seeds are to the earth. Without hope, life is sterile, unfruitful - dreams won’t be conceived, destinies won’t be realized. Hope is essential because it is the starting line, the genesis, the launch pad. It is the incubator where faith is formed: “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for,” God tells us (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). If there is no hope for the future, there will be no faith to face it - let alone build it. Or, in the case of many Floridians, rebuild it.
Just as one of your residents sent angel-guided messages of hope to many, we now send a message of hope - accompanied by prayers - to you, Florida.
In 2012 I bought a home in Dallas with a tree in my backyard I named The Hope Tree. I gave it that name because it used to be dead - or so the previous homeowners thought.
While speaking with the former owner when I was considering purchasing the house, he told me that not only had the tree died, but he had cut it down. There was nothing left but a stump! It doesn’t get much deader than that!
“Then I put in a sprinkler system,” he told me. “I placed one of the sprinkler heads next to the stump, and the tree grew back!”
I stood next to him, looking at the tree. This was not a wannabe tree consisting of two or three small sprigs, mind you, but a complete tree. Immediately I thought about the passage where God speaks about this never-say-die kind of tree:
“For there is hope for a tree when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grew old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water, it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9)
Why had this passage from Job come to my mind so quickly? Amazingly, in that season, I had been encouraging myself with these exact verses from Job as I prayed for America. “You can revive America’s destiny and cause us to be great again, Lord,” I prayed often.
Imagine my shock and amazement as I looked at the tree before me, a perfect picture of the Scriptures I had been standing on. I bought the home, and that tree became my daily reminder of the validity and power of audacious hope.
Like me, many people in this season are looking for hope. Life can be difficult, at times, brutal. The struggling economy is stealing jobs and destroying the dreams of many; diseases seem to have multiplied, ravaging the health of some and taking the lives of others; our kids cut themselves and shoot their classmates; our government is broken and refuses to reform; and the entire world, it seems, is filled with unrest.
Stumps abound…and then, once in a while, hurricanes appear.
You are not at the mercy of life’s unpredictable winds and currents, Florida. This storm won’t destroy you. You will win. Through the power of hope and its ability to connect you to God, your song will be restored, and you will sing again.
The great poet Emily Dickinson captured the sustaining power of hope in one of her beautiful poems:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tunes without the words
And never stops at all. (2)
Don’t stop singing, Florida. We need your song.
Pray with me:
Father, we lift the people of Florida up to You. Life has dealt many of them a very difficult blow. But You are a very present help in times of trouble. Send them help in the form of peace, strength, hope, and provision. Sustain them with Holy Spirit’s comfort and power. Remind those who know You that in all things they are more than conquerors through Christ, and that nothing will separate them from His love.
We pray for Governor DeSantis and his team, who will need to make many decisions. Please give them great wisdom as they rebuild their state.
And with our focus on Florida, we pray for a great revival to come to this region of our nation. May it start in Florida and go up the coast, all the way to Maine. Save millions of people. You never waste what satan means for harm. We call upon this principle now and speak spiritual life into Florida and up the east coast of America. We pray all of this in the all-powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
We decree that hope will rise in Florida, and Holy Spirit’s resurrection power will be released over this state.
Portions of this post were taken from my book The Power of Hope.
Here are two churches whom we know personally and trust. They are located in Florida and are involved in the Florida disaster relief. If you would like to make a financial contribution to a trustworthy designation, here are two options:
Victory Florida (arrow down to Hurricane Relief)
Kingdom Gate Worship Center (arrow down to Hurricane Ian Relief Fund)
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Barry Spilchuk compilers A Cut of Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach FL: Health Communications, Inc, 1996), p 209.
Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, R. W. Franklin, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), Poem #314.