There is a constant that all of humanity contains that drives us endlessly forward.
Hope of an achieved goal. Hope of an end to suffering. Hope of a consuming love.
Equality. Freedom. Arms to wrap around us and knowledge that someone knows who we are, and that we matter to them.
Sometimes its buried deep. Sometimes we abandon it. But we do not start without it.
Sometimes we hinge that hope on a big “maybe”. It’s uncertain. It’s an intangible that may or may not be there when we reach for it.
I hope one day I can have a cabin in the woods by a lake where my wife and I can sit and watch the sunrise and the sunset.
It may or may not happen.
And there are other hopes. Hopes that we arrange our entire lives around, because of our certainty in them. Hopes that have become so ingrained into our everyday that we don’t think about them. They’re a guarantee, and we live our lives accordingly.
I hope that every morning when I wake up, I won’t find that I’ve turned into a squid. I have a strong certainty that people do not spontaneously grow tentacles and squirt ink. So, I live my life accordingly.
Heaven is the latter category of hope for me. It’s the hope that Mr. Jeremy Camp sings about in the song above. It’s a certainty, a guarantee that I base my life on.
At least, I tell myself that I do.
My wife has been reading The Green Ember by S.D. Smith to my kids recently. I’ve been listening along, and I find it an amazing book so far. (Really, click on the picture and buy it. You won’t be disappointed.)
In it, and this isn’t really a spoiler – so don’t worry (we haven’t finished the book, yet, so I don’t know how it ends either!) They speak about a “Mended Wood”, a hope for a restored kingdom. Thing is, many of the rabbits think it’s a dream, a fairytale that is nearly useless to believe in. Even if it is the driving hope that unites them and spurs them on against their enemies. It’s become a song or such for children or for those who just won’t wake up and face reality. (At least, that’s how it comes across to me. I could be missing the point of the book entirely.)
I am also going through A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd on my own. I mentioned that before in my post The Prince of Peace. It’s sad that to see that I’m still working through this. I’m one of those readers that will tear through a book, then set it down and not pick it up again for weeks or longer. It’s horrible, I know. Still, I’m enjoying the book. Except when he convicts me with a truth I know but I struggle so hard to live.
It makes me wonder. How certain am I of my hope in heaven? Jesus has given me no cause for doubt. The bible makes no vague indications when it comes to the reality of heaven and the security it gives those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior.
My uncertainty comes in the way I live my life. Now, I believe that most of my life is lived with Jesus in my thoughts and the hope of Heaven always in front of me, but it is a struggle.
Heaven isn’t simply a hope of saving myself from roasting in a lake of fire. It isn’t a hope of living an eternity free from torment, etc.
Heaven is the hope of living in the presence of the One who gave it all for me. It’s also the hope of a perfected community. A community made of every tribe, tongue, and nation. It’s a hope of peace and freedom from the evil in this world.
Evil comes in many forms, and I’m guilty of many of them.
I’m against the death penalty, I believe in life from womb to tomb.
But am I really for peace and against violence in every situation?
Let’s talk about IS and the atrocities it inflicts against so many in this world. How does my stance for peace hold in light of this? Not strongly. I feel to the very core of who I am that they must be stopped – and the only way I can see for them to be stopped is through violence.
Let’s talk about my children. If someone harmed one of my children, I know what my reaction would be. Swift and violent.
Where’s my hold to that hope of peace? How do I let that certain, guaranteed hope dictate my every day? I still cling to this world’s system of violence – a violence that brings justice.
Is it really possible, do I really believe, that peace can overcome all the violent evil I see in the world around me?
I don’t have all the answers for this. But I know it’s possible. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought against injustice with peaceful acts. Gandhi helped overthrow tyranny through peaceful acts. Jesus defeated sin and death and guaranteed our hope of restoration through peaceful acts.
It is possible, even if I can’t see it.
Or, maybe I can. It’s a hard path. A difficult path that will be filled with brokenness and blood.
But a possible path?
I think so. Especially, if maybe, just maybe, my hope stops being in my abilities and instead in the ability of the One who calls me to that peace.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Story Monday, so I’m doing it now for Tuesday. I know, it isn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last. Lots of things rattling around in my head lately, and I wonder if I’m able to make it coherent. Why don’t you leave me a comment. Tell me what you think about hope in general, or a hope you have specifically. What are your thoughts on peace and violence? On community? Or, leave me a comment and tell me that you couldn’t make heads-or-tails from my ramblings above. I’ll try to bring more clarity another time. Thanks for reading.
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