The Active Pursuit of Hope

This post is linked up to Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory:

This is the second post in the series A January of Unwrapping Hope.

My husband tells me I’m much like a diesel engine in my running. I start incredibly slow, before taking flight. This taking flight requires me to both push through the physical effort and often pain of setting out AND to embrace quietness, to release the thoughts and feelings that weigh upon me. In preparing for today’s post, my eyes and heart have been opened to the parallels between visible, earthly running and invisible, spiritual running.

In this past month, the Lord has gifted me with glimpses into the hope we have in Him. But, they have been glimpses only. In returning to the humdrum of life, it has been very easy to let go of this gift, rather than seek after it further. So, in preparing for this post, I was shaken awake by the Words that met me:

Hebrews 2 : 1 (The Message)

It is crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.

Colossians 3: 1 – 2 (The Message)

So if you’re serious about living this resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

I have been shuffling a lot lately, attending to my own fears and insecurities, rather than actively pursuing or striving after the way of the Lord and clinging to His Truth.

My own fears and insecurities have told me I need to build human rapport for the words God gifts me to be received by those who read them. These feelings, birthed in idolatry, have paralyzed me into a shuffling mode, to chase after the “busy” life, rather than the quiet, trusting life His Word calls me into. In pursuing the “busy”, restlessness, discouragement, irritability and lethargy have overcome me.

But then I read His Word:

Hebrews 2: 3 – 4 (The Message)

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators  – is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ  (your real life, remember) shows up, too – the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And I remembered why I had felt such incredible peace, joy and life-giving hope in New Zealand in the midst of a wave of grief. God had cupped my face in His hands, lifted it heavenward and spoken: “Be still and know that I am God.” over me. In that moment, all that mattered was Him. In beholding Him in silence, I “stripped off” my “filthy set of ill-fitting clothes and put them in the fire” to be “defined by Christ” (Colossians 3: 9, The Message). In so doing, I became “alert to what is going on around Christ” and saw His Majesty as a reflection of His Glory yet to be revealed:

1 Corinthians 13: 12 (NIV)

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

So, last night I pursued quietness. I placed my phone aside, chose to forego the sound of music, closed all books and sat in silence, my soul inclined toward the Lord. And the longer I sat there, the more heavy with grief and yearning I became. Not my own grief and maybe even not my own yearning. I felt brokenness, hearts aching, and a strong yearning for God to act. And today, I’ve been reminded of the Lord’s tears, of His grief as He beheld the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19: 41):

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.

I realized that the deep grief that overwhelms me in His Presence, as I worship Him, is a gift in and of Himself that He has been holding out to me. In pursuing my “busy” life, however, I’ve chosen to turn my back on the gift before me. And yet His heart aches for me to “share what I have with others”, rather than “sit[ting] on my hands”, “dragging my feet” (Hebrews 12: 12).

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary tells us:

The Son of God did not weep vain and causeless tears, nor for a light matter, nor for himself. He knows the value of souls, the weight of guilt, and how low it will press and sink mankind. May he then come and cleanse our hearts by his Spirit, from all that defiles. May sinners, on every side, become attentive to the words of truth and salvation.

Our hope is in the Lord. Our hope is in the salvation He has assured us of. Our hope is in the redemption of the lost and the coming of His Kingdom. Our hope is not a passive concern, but an active pursuit (J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M., 2005):

“In the Bible, hope is never a static or passive thing. It is dynamic, active, directive and life sustaining. This is everywhere obvious as we read the Word. Take a concordance, look up the word “hope” and you will find reference after reference pointing out the active results of hope in the lives of those who truly have a biblical hope and live accordingly.

In other words, a biblical hope is not an escape from reality or from problems. It doesn’t leave us idle, drifting or just rocking on the front porch. If our hope is biblical and based on God’s promises, it will put us in gear.”

The pursuit of Hope, is thus the active pursuit of things unseen, revealed to us through His Spirit-infused Word. What that pursuit will look like for each one of us, will depend on the path the Lord has set before us. All we are called to do is “…Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God…” (Hebrews 12 : 1 – 3, The Message).

And we can do this (Hebrews 13: 5 – 6):

‘relaxed with what [we] have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?’

So let’s “walk right up to God” (Hebrews 10: 22-25, The Message):

let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Let’s pursue a life of Hope, beholding the face of Our Lord in all that we do.

I’d love to connect with you, as I continue sharing my journey into God’s Great Love this year, so that we may encourage each other in fixing our eyes upon the Lord. I have created aJoy of the Spirit Within Facebook page for this purpose. If you like the page, you will receive updates from it in your Newsfeed and when you head on over to the page you can join in the conversations we have about faith.

 

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9 thoughts on “The Active Pursuit of Hope

  1. It is a wonder to me… surely God inspired. My heart was resting in the same place…. but different as we are different. I am reading a wonderful book. Not having been able to read like this for a couple years, I am rejoicing. “The Path Through Suffering,” – by Elisabeth Elliot. A woman who knew suffering, but had to find some understanding in the impossible path. A conclusion she came to… “surrendering all my plans, purposes, desires, and hopes, myself, my life, my all, to God to be His forever. I asked Him to work out His whole will in my life, at any cost.” This is the flavor of the commitments we made as new believers in Christ, but it struck me… how this could, and should, be our cry, a renewal of the commitments, as we sit silently in His presence each day. Bless you, my new sister in Christ. I thank God for you and your insight and love for God.

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    1. Sounds like a book I should read. I love how God brought us together and encourages us through each other. You have been and continue to be such a blessing to me in this journey.

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      1. Yes, you should definitely read it. An amazing journey discovering God’s grace and provision.
        I have been abundantly blessed by the fellowship of friendship. A gift, designed and orchestrated, by Him for such a time as this. And I look forward to the days and months ahead.

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  2. Anna, I’ve tried all day to get here, but well, . . . busy-ness took over my day in the form of a boy who needed a little (or a lot) of help on a major project due on Friday. Sigh. I’m so glad I had a chance to stop by. Your words here are life-giving.

    I’d never read The Message’s rendering of Colossians 3:1-2, what challenging words! Either do it whole-heartedly, or don’t, but don’t shuffle through each day. I need that exhortation to look up and see what’s going on around Christ. Your exhortations bolster my spirit and challenge me to continue deeper with Jesus. Thank you for that!

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    1. No need to apologize…that’s some very important busy-ness! I hope he’s feeling much better about the project after your help.

      Yeah, pretty strong words, aren’t they! I think we all need to hear them from time to time. So glad what I shared bolstered your spirit today.

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  3. The verses you share here are so powerful, Anna! And the point is strong. That certainly shifts the definition of hope that I’m accustomed to. Let the pursuit begin! #TellHisStory

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    1. It did mine too! I never really thought about it being a pursuit as well as a gift…but when I felt nudged to open my Bible to these passages it stung, as I realized the implications…but I needed to be stung! Thanks for dropping by and your encouragement in commenting.

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  4. So I read this one and the one before this and I choose the idol of relaxing and wasting time on the internet instead of resting fully on God and His hope. Thanks for the reminder. Gotta read on

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