The fantastic Chris Acuff contributes a post to the blog today. Sorry for the funky font!
I’ve thought a lot about the word hope lately. Operating in the roles of both pastor and investment advisor it seems that I hear folks discussing their hopes almost daily. What I have discovered is that we are all hoping for or in something. We all have a picture in our minds of how our reality could be better if that which we are hoping for would just come to fruition. We are all working, investing, planning, striving with some “hope” in mind. For some, our hope is in something spiritual, for others it’s in something material. For many, our hope is in a person or maybe an idea or a dream. Those who have lost hope, hope to be rescued from their misery. Our president even ran on the campaign slogan of “Hope & Change,” hoping to appeal to all of us. In the wake of the death of Steve Jobs, we’ve heard the consistent theme that “he gave us hope.” Hope takes a million different forms, but hope dwells in and appeals to all of us.
My thoughts have mainly circled around this: When that which we hope for finally comes to fruition, will it be all that we dreamed it would be? I struggle with this a lot. I’m an idealist and a dreamer. And, I am more often than not left disappointed because, for most situations in my life, I have an idealistic (usually unrealistic) expectation. I dream that my experiences will play out in magical ways — that the food, conversation, ambiance will all come together to create some Hollywood-type moment. Obviously, most of the time the picture in my head does not match the reality I am in. Like the year my daughter got “Floam???” for Christmas. The picture in the magazine is always better than the real thing.
As Christ followers, we often ask ourselves where we are placing our hope. I believe it is helpful to play this out a step further.
We should ask —
What would it look like if I actually got what I am hoping for?
What if these hopes came true?
Would they satisfy?
Would I feel complete?
Or would I be left longing for more?
Are we spending our days chasing and dreaming of a hope that will not fulfill?
Or for something that can be destroyed or lost or grown out of?
We put our hope in a political figure or an investment portfolio. We put our hope in a future spouse or children or independence or relationships or a career or a bank account. But all of these can disappoint and can fade away. There’s no amount of any of these earthly things that can satisfy us or bring ultimate security. There is no amount of money, sex, power, success, affection, approval, (you name it) that can fulfill our longings.
The apostle Peter had this to say about hope:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
As Christ followers, our hope lies in God through His son Jesus Christ. Our future in guaranteed. An overwhelming and unimaginable inheritance is waiting for us. It was paid for with the very life of Christ and is being protected by the very power of God. We can’t out dream it. I can’t out idealize it. We hope for something that is real and living and has been paid for and is of greater worth than we could imagine. Our hope will be more than fulfilled. We will be much more than satisfied. And this time we can’t lose it or destroy it. I don’t know about you, but that’s better than anything else I could ever hope for.
So, what would it look like if your dreams came true?