It has been almost 4 months since my last blog post. In that time frame, hope has been a huge theme in my life. If I wasn't hanging on to it for dear life, I was either filled to the brim with it or reaching aimlessly for it. I hope to share that story more with those dearest to me because it is a good story...and it is a good story only on the basis that it is a God story.
Winter by far is my least favorite season. Everything about winter slows me down physically, emotionally, and even spiritually (or rather, I allow it to have that power over me which it could never conjure up on its own - pathetic, I know). Between a family bombshell, an 18-inch blizzard followed by another few inches of snow, still having to go to work in spite of that, and being separated by one from whom I least want to be separated from, this winter has for me been the most challenging.
The other day, however, I was driving home from work like I do most days. The day was March 1, to be exact. Winter weather was still very much upon KC with cold winds and patches of snow left on the ground in some spots. The sun was shining for the first time in a few days, which was helpful, but the sun shows its face often enough - even in the dead of winter. For some reason I was filled with hope, but it was more than the sun shining. It was more than the knowledge of a new day (which should bring us feelings of hope already).
Then it hit me: Yesterday was February. Today is March. You may think I'm nuts. If you look back through several Farmer's Almanacs you'll see that you certainly have that right. In the context of a calendar year, though, just the knowledge of the month passing from February to March gives me that assurance that winter will pass and we will at last bask in spring, summer, and autumn. It hasn't happened yet, but it will; and though it hasn't happened yet, I was given that sign as an assurance of hope beyond a mere wish for winter to pass away. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. (2 Corinthians 5:14-19; the Message version)
Likewise, as we wait for the pain of this life to pass away, in the context of eternity, we can have an even greater assurance that we will move beyond this temporary abode into our permanent home in God himself. To find that assurance, we look to Jesus Christ: fully God, but fully man, crucified and risen! Victory has yet to be carried out, but as we look to the cross we can't help but be certain that death has been defeated. "My sin, not in part, but the whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!" This is the Gospel. Why don't I allow myself to look to the cross in the face of the greatest despair or even the silliest things such as the bleak mid-winter?
There you have it, folks. My hope is in Christ alone. Even as I stumble to hold onto Jesus, I sincerely desire for my words tonight to steer you toward the cross.