Grasping Onto Hope

grasping-onto-hope

 

i.

 

Ah, hope.

 

Lately, I’ve been mulling over the puzzling question of what real hope looks like, in a world as messed up as ours is.

 

I’ve been thinking, praying, talking, and tweeting about it, and I’ve been doing my best to grasp the essence of what it truly is…and what it can look like individually in our lives.

 

Hope is beautiful, because it is the promise of faith. Not blind faith, but real, grounded, and radical faith in a world of chaos; confusion; hopelessness.

 

Hope is a form of anticipation, of something guaranteed, not just wished for, and I’ve been grappling with this too, recently.

 

Where is hope when we can’t see straight? Where is hope in depression, in heartache, in desperation?

 

Where is hope when the money is tight, when pain is ever-present, when the future seems miserably bleak?

 

Where is hope in hospitals, in nursing homes, at gravesides?

 

Where is hope in any of it? Where is hope at all?

 

What are we even hoping for?

 

I wish I could lie and say that it all gets better. It may, or it may not. But God is not any less good when He chooses not to give us everything we think we need on this earth. Our ultimate need is a spiritual one, one He took care of on the cross.

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Finding Security in a Messy World

Finding Security in a Messy World

You don’t need to be a genius to realize that the world is a mess.

 

I’m not a genius. I know that the world is a mess.

 

Last week, we witnessed the ISIS terrorist attack on Paris. Innocent lives slain. Families torn to pieces. Countless injuries.

 

And things like this leave us all saying, what if that was me? What if I went on vacation in Paris and never came back? What then?

 

It’s kind of scary. To think that anyone of us could be having the best day of our lives but then wind up in a hospital room, devoid of functioning limbs. Or in a funeral home, lying in a casket ready to be buried in the ground.

 

What then?

 

Tragedy is known so well to this world. There is no escape from the inevitable: death. Hurt. Pain. Loss.

 

For so many of us, we soak up reality and embrace insecurity. Kids, don’t forget to wear your SPF 1567 sunblock, hockey helmet, and bulletproof bathing suit. You wouldn’t want the chance of death on a beautiful summer day, now would you.

 

Hey, the apocalypse might come in a few months. EVERYONE, QUICK, BUY CANNED FOOD AND LOTS OF BUBBLE-WRAP WITH EXTRA INSULATED SWEATERS.

 

As much as this is ridiculously satirical, it’s how so much of us think – just on a smaller scale.

 

What if I go out to school one day and never come home?

 

What if I walk to work next week and wind up in a wheelchair?

 

What if I go to the gym tomorrow and end up dead?

 

And how can I prevent that?

 

I get it. Life isn’t safe. Every time we take a breath, we run the risk of it being our last. It’s the curse of life, and there is no reverse. Take a look at the news (or, don’t) and see all the destruction.

 

This world is messed up. Security is just about impossible.

 

But you want to know what?

 

My lack of security in my own life leads me to one of two things. Either I can roll around in freakoutishness (don’t argue, that’s totally a word) and fear, or I can put my hope in security that is greater than any threat to my human life.

 

Listen to what Jesus says here.

 

Luke 12:4

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”

 

Our lives are but a blip on the face of eternity. If death is inevitable, eternity is even more inevitable. When this blip of life ends – and trust me, it will – we need assurance of real security.

 

This security comes from the Gospel. I wrote about it recently here, read it if you haven’t already.

 

With the forgiveness of our sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, we are given ETERNAL LIFE.

 

Also, read this one where I talk about our choice of eternity.

 

Life is super scary, I know! But we don’t need to be afraid.

 

Knowing that I’m not “safe” in this life doesn’t increase my paranoia. It challenges me to remember that worrying doesn’t fix things. It reminds me that my life is in God’s hands, and His plan is always best, even if I can’t see it. It hammers into me that eternity is honestly all that ultimately matters.

 

Significance and security go hand in hand. (Read this post here about that.)

 

The world is a mess, but this is only our temporary home.

 

We shouldn’t dwell on the insecurity of our lives, but the security of heaven when we trust in Jesus to forgive our sins.

 

So don’t be consumed with fear. It’s not worth it when our lives prove to be so short. But focus on what’s really important – eternity.

 

Where will you be in 100 years?

 

*aj

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Searching For Significance? I Found It.

Significance.

The meaning of life. What is it?

The question we’ve all been asking since we came to the realization of what life is.

We are born, we live, we die. And in those moments in between, during the moments that we live and move and breathe, we get glimpses of joy and peace, and sorrow and tragedy. And we think to ourselves, Is this really what life’s all about?

The feelings? The pleasure? The darkness, the light?

The dreams, or reality?

These are the questions we ask ourselves.

What is morality? Truth? Is it even real?

My friends, I want to share some things with you. Things that I know we all have questioned, and things that have real answers.

We all search for significance.

No matter who we are, we all want to make our imprint in the world. A lot of us want to be famous, or loved, or rich, or successful. In essence, we want to be happy.

That’s why so many people cling to the line, “follow your dreams,” even if their dreams lead them down the wrong path.

“Follow your heart” becomes the replacement for true significance, because that’s what people think will lead them to be fulfilled.

If life ends once we die…and we only live once…then it stands to reason that we should enjoy life while it lasts, right?

Well, yes and no.

The thing is, when we pursue significance by chasing fleeting happiness, we discard the idea that what happens after we die matters. We adopt the lie that says that the here and now is what’s of utmost importance.

As a Christian, I cannot accept that.

Humans are eternal beings created by an eternal God. (More on this in a minute.)

We were all born with a craving. A craving for love, for meaning, and for hope.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we live in a broken world.

But it does take Someone as powerful as God to fix it.

Don’t ask me why God created this world when He knew that we’d rebel against Him and mar it. Because I don’t know.

But what I do know is that His love is more powerful than our sin.

And the search for significance? We search because without God, things do not make any sense.

 

Why would things spring into existence? Let’s just say that if things could spring into existence, they’d be like cloned blobs of matter.

Why would God create a place that would doom itself to destruction?

Because He had a plan all along.

His plan was to save us, and in doing so, He showed us love.

Love is where we find our significance.

 

But not in some human relationship.

 

The only significance and meaning we will ever find is in a relationship with God, which we can now have.

 

We can know love by the grace of God and blood of Jesus.

 

I said earlier that we are eternal beings. Death is not the end; it is the gate. The gate to all eternity is opened at death, and it’s decided by what happens in our lives.

The gate to heaven is only opened by believing on Jesus to forgive our sins on this earth in order to be right with God. And the crazy cool thing is this:

What satisfies us on this earth — a relationship with God — is what grants us salvation and entrance into heaven.

 

There needn’t be any more search for significance. It’s finished.

And there is a beautiful solution.

Love has come to us. Love has won us over. And love will lead us to our eternal home.

*aj

I’m Just Contemplating The World, Among Other Things.

I’m Just Contemplating The World, Among Other Things.

I don’t know what you’d call me. A thinker, perhaps. I think about things on a really big scale sometimes and people look at me like I’m weird when I make analytical and philosophical comments.

Nothing new there.

Anyway…I’m that weird friend that likes to talk about why things are the way they are. The meaning of life, the measure of success…all that jazz.

But I rarely stop there.

When I think, my life gets put into perspective.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about religion.

Usually, “religious” people have a normal life. School. Work. Play. Family. And on top of that, church and spiritual things once a week or so.

But that bothers me. If our lives are so-called “religious,” why isn’t it integrated into our lives?

That’s a question that has been weighing on me lately, as you probably read in my post about Church Camp Christians.

Honestly, though, my thoughts have been going even deeper than that.

These philosophical contemplations hit me at random times.

I few weeks ago, I was sitting around in my own little head (like I do most days), and thinking.

Why is Jesus the only way?

 

Why do I really live the way I do?

 

Why does God deserve my worship?

 

Could I just pick some other religion if I wanted to?

 

Why?

 

And I mean, I do know the answers to those questions.

I realize that I don’t have too much of a choice. This is God’s universe. He created it. He has existed forever and ever.

Now, when I say that I don’t have much of a choice, please don’t take it the wrong way.

It’s just like this.

I either choose to love God and be saved by Him, or I don’t.

I choose His way, or I choose mine.

At first, this might seem unfair. Who put God in charge?

Well, that’s the thing. This is HIS universe. He didn’t have to create us, but He did anyway. He knew we’d rebel against Him, but He created us and loved us anyway. He knew that we would rebel and therefore break our relationship with Him, but He still sent Jesus for us. He still forgives our sin because of His grace. And He deserves our worship because He is God. It’s not really explainable.

God has always existed, and always will exist. Earth is just a smudge in all of eternity.

So, why is Jesus the only way? Well, if there was another way to God, one that was easier, then why would Jesus have come in the first place?

Simple. He wouldn’t’ve. There’s no point in an unnecessary sacrifice.

When I look at the world, my thoughts are provoked.

When I see people walking in the streets. When I see people in stores. When I see people writing books or making movies.

What are they living for?

 

Do they realize that we are made for more than just going through boring old life?

 

Do they realize that God is at the center of the universe? That He is in control? That He wants to have a personal relationship with them, no matter how far gone they are?

 

Do they realize that they’ll never be satisfied until they get to know God for who He is?

 

Just a simple shift in perspective makes me realize that it’s not about me.

It’s not about how good I am, but about how good God is. He loved me, and gave Himself for me.

I don’t live out of guilt, obligation, or drudgery.

I live because I don’t deserve grace. I don’t deserve love. I don’t deserve hope.

And yet, I have been given it. It’s beautiful, really. Inspiring.

If you consider Christianity a religion, then I want my religion to bleed into my everyday life.

No, actually, I want it to take over.

I want my relationship with Jesus to be the thing that I live for. The thing that makes my heart beat. The thing that inspires me.

And you know what?

It sure does.

*aj