‘Hope’ is a curious thing. I have always wondered at it. Where is the ‘space’, the reality of ‘living hope’, or living in hope? The obvious block to my mind and spirit is the linear in this life, the passing of time and the facts of things lost or gone. It is easy to ‘hope’ for tomorrow, because it has not yet come and gone. In fact, regarding ‘tomorrow’, one does not know if one is actually ‘hoping’ in any spiritual sense, or just hoping in the sense of wanting and waiting to see... But how does one ‘hope’ for that which is already lost? Is there such a hope? In the spiritual sense we just referred to, is there any other kind of ‘hope’?
When I read scriptures I see stories of people who hoped for what was dead and gone, and it came back to life. I read of people who saw realities - things true here and now - that no one else could see or fathom or experience. There are moments where the facts said one thing (and people said it also), but God defined it differently - like someone being ‘dead’, but Jesus saying it was, in fact, ‘sleep’. There was a moment right here, for example, if we could stop the clock, where a man would be looking on a dead loved one, but Jesus was challenging him to see, say, believe, that this was not death, but sleep. (Mt 9:24)
The prophet Ezekiel was led by the Spirit to the Valley of Dry Bones. (Ezekiel 37) This valley was full of dried bones of people long dead and gone. Then the Lord called Ezekiel to prophesy to these bones, and call them to life. The bones rattled together, and before Ezekiel’s eyes sinews and ligaments and skin came over the bodies, and breath into their lungs. This act of creating before the eyes of a man, reminds me of the act and process of Jesus actually creating eyes in the eye sockets of a man. (Mk 8:22-26) When Jesus died, also, we read an account of tombs breaking open and people who had died coming back to life and moving back into the community. (Mt 27:51-53) When I think of ‘hope’, of Spirit-led and Spirit-filled ‘living hope’, I think and wonder about the truth and reality of these people, i.e. that person who saw their lost loved one placed in the Valley of Dry Bones, who wept and resisted and said, ‘No! No! This person lives, he lives!’ I think of the child of the buried man in Jerusalem - who later was to come alive - who at the funeral would not cry, and would say to people quietly, under their breath, that their father was not dead, that he was alive, that he would still see him and spend time with him. I think of the mother of the blind man - that Jesus was later in life to heal - who, when he was born without eyes, refused to ‘see’ it this way. She loved him and insisted that her child did have eyes, that he did see, that he was perfect.
It is easy to look back and see who had ‘hope’. But what interests and challenges me is not who had hope, but what reality of truth the hopeful were living in when the rest of us simply grieved and lamented. Their ‘living hope’ was, in fact, a different reality, a different universe, and it was the truer one. Their hope for things lost was truer that our acceptance of things lost. Their reality of things alive, was a truer reality than ours of things dead. This is what intrigues, challenges, and now speaks to my soul.
Job spoke a truth about himself, but only came true for the rest of us thousands of years later. But Job’s words and vision - impossible and unconsummated in his lifetime - were never truer, higher and more eternal. In many respects, they preceded him, and flowed to and through him, and continue to flow from the heart and throne of God, to and through all of existence, purpose and purity. His timeline was impossible (‘after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my skin I will…’); his vision blasphemous (‘I will see God [the unseeable] with my own eyes’). And yet what does an earthly profession sound like when it captures and expresses the Eternal? What does a ‘living hope’ experience feel like in the bounds of the limited, broken and mortal?
‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see him with my own eyes. I and not another. How my heart yearns within me.’ (Job 19:25-27)
So here’s my ‘free fall’ on this issue, my ‘soaring’ - and I define it this way because it is more like a boundless space of the Spirit, than a ‘point’. Jesus often called us to walk in faith and in hope, on paths that were not of this world or timeline. He unveiled to us through miracles paths that were ‘other’, like walking on water. (Mt 14:22-33) Through encounters Jesus revealed to us timelines that were ‘other’, like transfigurations and out-of-body realities. (Mt 17:3; Rev 1:13-18; 2 Cor 12) God revealed spiritual ‘armies’ that were present and strong, surrounding physical armies that were threatening and unseeing. (2 Kings 6:17)
I know the love and will of God is pure, life-giving, holy and beautiful. I know that anything outside of this reality is not his will. (1 Jn 3:8; 2 Pe 3:9; Mt 18:14; 1 Tim 2:4; Ps 45:7; Heb 1:9; Jn 10:10; 1 Jn 1:5; Mk 3:22-30) I believe that to ‘live in hope’, or to have and live in the reality and truth of Christ’s ‘Living Hope’, is to believe that even when a man dies, he lives; when a man is born without eyes, he has eyes; when a child is hurt, he should not have been hurt, and will one day have never have been hurt. (Jn 11:25-26; Ez 36:26; Rev 21:5; 2 Cor 5:21) God’s will and ways are never thwarted. Things happen that should not, and are not allowed by God, not his will. But ‘living hope’ in Jesus Christ says that God’s defeat of the grave is going to race back through time and un-do all hurt and sin that has been done. God does not just move forward and patch up, cover up, and leave things to be forgotten. No! God, through the suffering of Christ, makes all things ‘new’ - does not just repair all things. (Rev 21:5) This is impossible for us to know and fathom. Impossible. We only have a one-way timeline, and that is forward. This is why - perhaps the best reason why - we take hold of ‘hope’. Not just any hope, but a ‘Living Hope’. (Rm 5:1) We take hold of Christ’s power over Time, and his ‘blood that speaks a better word’ than blood spilt through sin (Heb 12:24), and we hope in Christ to race back through time and change everything, make everything perfect again, and delete the history of sin not just from our minds, but from history. Who can fathom or understand such a reality at work, such a truth in force? Not me. So I live in hope.
‘Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?...
‘Don’t be afraid’ Jesus said. ‘Just believe.’ (Mark 5:35-36)
For more on connecting with the source of eternal life, Jesus Christ, please visit the ‘First Steps’ page at: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
Peter Walker. I hope you enjoy these reflections. Please feel free to comment!:)