Sorry everyone that I’ve been AWOL for a time. I have been readjusting to life in the States and I also got a job as a freelance grant writer…so, that’s been draining my creative reservoir of late, but I have had a lot of things on my mind, and some things that God has been showing and sharing with me, I wanted to share them with you as well.
I love the object – HOPE. It is such a unique kind of thing that a Christian has…well, that any human being can have, but particularly Christians, because our hope is placed in something that is solid and true. The definition of hope is: “A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.” (dictionary.com) Paul says in 1 Corinthians, after a long explanation of what love is that “faith, hope, and love abide.” The writer of Hebrews (I think, maybe Paul…but it’s not certain) says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped, the conviction of things not seen.”
I just love what having hope can do for a person. Hope is an amalgam of faith, contentment, and trust…and a certain amount of optimism. For the regular person, hope is believing that something good is going to happen. For a Christian, hope is believing that no matter how bad the circumstances or trials, good will be the ultimate end, because we have the promises of Christ. I think one of the best descriptions of hope for a Christian is found in Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope (redemption of our bodies / adoption as sons of God) we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” So, patience and hope are drawn together in a close union.
Another description that I was surprised to find was in Ezekiel. I’m sure many of you have heard a sermon on The Valley of Dry Bones in chapter 37. If not, I’ll give a brief summary.
Israel had been pillaged and taken captive by the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar was ruthless in the seige of Jerusalem, cutting to pieces all the gold vessels of the Temple and carrying them back to Babylon. The Israelites were left without hope. They could not go to the Temple, and therefore could not worship God, at least, the way they were used to doing. Many gave in to worshipping the false gods of the Babylonians. They were desperate to maintain any kind of purpose in their lives, but many gave up and just assimilated to the culture in Babylon. God wanted to make a point to them, to restore hope. Why? This is what the Israelites were saying: “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.”
Did you catch that? “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost.” So, God picks up the prophet Ezekiel and gives him an amazing vision. He puts him in a valley filled with dried and bleached bones (symbolic of the people of Israel). He asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live again?” Ezekiel, being very smart…and cautious…says, “O LORD God, you know.” God tells Ezekiel to prophesy a special message over the bones and that they will arise again. As he does, “the bones came together, bone to its bone…there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them.” And then he prophesies again, as God commands, and the four winds come over the valley, and breath came into them and they stood living, a great army.
This vision was for Ezekiel to take back to the captives to restore their hope that God had not forgotten them and that He would restore them, not just to their land, but to life! God would pour His breath into them, filling their bones with the marrow of His hope, and they would thrive and live and conquer!
For me, being back in the States, I have been skirting along the rut that I used to walk in, the rut of complacency…er rather…the rut of method. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what exactly happened in the last year. I struggle within myself between being annoyed at having to worry about the “menial” things, such as a job, my car, paying bills, being a good citizen of America, etc, and knowing that it has its purpose in my life for this season. I kick myself that for even a second having any doubts, I have lacked hope that God would restore me to the mission, or that just because I’m not “out there” anymore, I am no longer in the mission. It’s silly, and I will say that I haven’t given in and walked even a foot in that familiar rut, but I do come to the edge and look in, letting the thoughts run through my mind, just to push them back and comment how ridiculous they are. But, I’m realizing how great a gift hope is. Hope is the marrow for my bones when any doubts come in. It is what keeps me standing when I find myself in shaky ground, when sincere people make less-than-tactful comments, when other routes look just as good as the one I’ve been called to walk. I have to decide daily to hope that God will give me the desires of my heart…the desires He put there – to live a life as a vessel for Him and His love to the world, to have a man to live that life with me, to have beautiful feet that will walk the globe sharing the world’s true history and God’s story of redemption.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”