On Sunday, I spoke about how hope is a trickier thing than we usually give it credit for. Since it’s a fluffy word that’s easy and inspiring to throw around, actually defining it or (harder) developing it isn’t something we consider.
In this first week of advent, we are led to consider Christ’s return, believing what we say in our creed—that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Thinking of the apocalypse in a season normally reserved for happy elves and chestnuts roasting on an open fire may seem strange, but it’s the second coming that ought to stir most acutely in is a sense of hope. In my sermon, I laid out three conditions for hope:
- Hopefulness requires a lack. To desire something in the future, there must be some present restlessness or dissatisfaction. If we are content with how things are now, we won’t hope for something that has yet to come.
- Hopefulness cannot exist amidst despair. If we reach a point when we have given ourselves over to cynicism or apathy, we will let go of our belief that one day things will be different. And hope is lost.
- Hopefulness requires preparation. If we are not ready for the one who is coming, we won’t look forward to his arrival.
This week, I’ve been thinking about which of these three most apply to me right now. There have certainly been seasons of life for each of them. Right now though, I would have to say it’s that third one. The truth is that I’m a spiritual procrastinator. I always find a way to place one more task or one more priority in front of worship or prayer. I feel hard wired to achieve and I’m always working with a ticking clock in my head: get these last papers graded, make dinner, pick up the house. There’s always one more thing to do.
And of course that’s true and as it should be. Part of our calling as co-creative stewards of God’s good creation is to bring order out of chaos and set things right. But when we allow the daily onslaught of activity to crowd out our central focus on Christ’s call for us to join with him in the work of his kingdom, then all our best work is ultimately futile.
Our devotion, Preparing for Jesus, is helping me return again and again to this purpose and settle my heart again back into a ready hopefulness. I pray that this week you are examining your own heart and discovering again the great hope we have in Jesus, the one who saved us and the one who has promised to come again to reign eternally. Amen!