Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where Hope Belongs

As long as I can remember being alive, I’ve been hoping. I can’t remember a time that I’ve been absent of hope. When I was a kid, I hoped that my Mom would let me go outside and play in the yard with my cousin, Josh. When I turned sixteen I hoped that I’d pass my driver’s license test. I hoped I would get a pretty date to the dance. I hoped I’d be accepted into ministry school. I hoped I would have a job that I love. Now, as 2013 has invited us in, there are hopes for a good year and wonderful blessings. My life has been a progression of hopes. 

I’ve had the joy of many hopes being fulfilled, in which I’m thankful for God’s goodness. But as good as those things were, they never left me satisfied in the long term. They were never meant to. You and I were born with hunger, desire and longing to be filled. Until we discover that our God given desire can only be satisfied by the Creator of desire itself, and that our hope must be placed in God alone, we will constantly be pushing our hope forward into the next event, the next purchase or the next promotion.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” What separates believers in Christ from the rest of the world is a hope for something outside of the hear and now. Our hope goes far beyond a promotion, a pay raise, a sparkling romance. Our hope is eternal. The deepest part of who we are believes with all our heart that eternity matters, and the weight that eternity bears upon our souls causes us to put all of our hope in Christ alone. 

In Philippians chapter 1, Paul finds himself in prison awaiting his sentence. In his jail cell, he is thinking about his condition and contemplating life and death. As I read through Paul’s recorded dialogue with himself, it is so evident to me that Paul lived in with a revelation of eternity. On one hand, he says, he could go on living, which meant preaching the Gospel and pouring His life out as an offering to Jesus. On the other hand, if he died, he would finally see the One in whom his heart longed for. At the thought of being with Jesus, not even death was something to be feared. Paul had his hope in Jesus alone. He was longing for something beyond what this world could never offer him, and something that death could never steal from him. 

Do you live with this revelation of eternity? If we would drop the point of an ink pen on a piece of paper, take the mark that it would make on that piece of paper and compare it in length to millions of miles of highway stretching into space, that ink dot would be too small of a representation of our short lives here on earth compared to eternity. When I think about how brief life is compared to eternity, it makes me want to live differently. It makes me want to invest into things that are eternal, things that will last. The reality of eternity bears weight on my decisions and it gives fresh perspective to my pains and struggles. I can look at the most broken parts of this world and the most painful parts of life and know in my heart that God will one day restore everything. Whether we realize it or not, this is the ultimate hope that we're all longing for. The only place our hope belongs is in Christ.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” - Revelation 21: 1-4
- David Olinger

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