Learning to live forwards

The letter to the Hebrews has a sense of journey about it. The followers of Jesus are precisely that, pilgrims pressing on into something new and wonderful, and encouraged not to give up or turn aside. We are going forward into what God has promised for us!

In chapter 5, we’re compared to tiny babies who need to move on from mother’s milk to solid food. How tragic to never enjoy the fullness of life, and maturity, to get stuck at kindergarten, when you are old enough to be at college! In Chapter 6, as Eugene Peterson puts it,  (rather wonderfully), “let’s leave the preschool finger-painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art.” Move on, please.

Why?

So that what you hope for might be FULLY realised” (Hebrews 6).

Hope, if you think about it, is a forward-looking concept. My dictionary defines it as “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”  The idea of Hope is of looking down the line, seeing what you desire to happen, the desire that your life is fully filled with all you expected and wished for.

But I suspect that the writer to the Hebrews meant quite a bit more than that when he encouraged his people forward “so that what you hope for might be fully realised.”

In the Bible, hope is less defined by one’s own personal expectation and desire, than shaped by the promises and personality of a living, loving God.

Richard Sibbes, the Cambridge Puritan who died in 1635, wrote a whole book on Psalm 42:5. It was called The Soul’s Conflict with Itself, because in Psalm 42:5 that is exactly what you have, the soul arguing with itself, preaching to itself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!” Come on, Ken! Pull yourself together!

Hoping in God does not come naturally for people like us. We are imperfect specimens, prone to gloomy prognosis, glass-half-empty catastrophising (Look it up). The Psalmists wrestled to maintain their hope in God.

If we don’t own up to this as a normal way of living as a Christian, then it’s easy to get sluggish, negligent, complacent, as the text indicates.

I need to learn to live forwards. I need to live in hope.

I need HOPE –for example-  in order that I might forgive and not retaliate.

When I’m put down, I need a Hope-perspective for the strength to return good for evil. Without hope I have no power to absorb the wrong and walk in love, and I sink into self-pity or self-justification.

If I experience a setback in my planning—I get sick, or things don’t go the way I’d hoped in my job—I need a Hope-perspective for the strength to keep going and not give up.

If I face a temptation to be dishonest, to steal, to lie, or to lust, I need a Hope-perspective for the strength to hold fast to the way of righteousness, and deny myself some brief, unsatisfying jolt of pleasure.

That is the way it works for me. That is the way I fight for holiness in the Christian life. And I believe this is the biblical way to make our calling and election sure.

To realise FULLY all that I hope for.

There’s a joke going round about those huge 3D IMAX cinemas: “Those people who want to close IMAX just haven’t learnt to see the Big Picture.”

Ho ho.

But I hope you see the point. Unless you learn to see the big picture, you don’t really learn to appreciate the day-to-day detail. I need the big picture of what God is doing in my life, in  order to understand the nitty gritty stresses and strains where God is working everything together for my good, whether I understand it fully or not.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

Lord, help me to learn to live forwards, looking to see my hope in you fully realised. Anything that would distract me from that forward movement, Lord, let me drop it like a hot potato – tiny bits of unforgiveness, small misunderstandings and paltry power-games. Help me learn to HOPE IN GOD and not sweat the small stuff…. To know and trust that you are working it all out.

Amen

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This entry was posted in Christianity, Church Planting, Contemporism, Evangelism, Faith, God, Is it me?, Jesus, life, Listening, Morning Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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