Hope is a Gift and a Choice

Have you ever had that dream…   the one that many people report: you are going into school on the last day to take final exams (maybe it’s high school or college) and you suddenly realize that there is one class (maybe it’s English or Math) that you never prepared for (maybe you never even went to class all year). The feeling of anxiety, the fear of failure, the hopelessness is terrible…   then…   you wake up and you are awash in relief. Laying in your bed you realize that is was just a dream…   it didn’t happen.

Sometimes we wish we could wake up from our real lives that way. Sometimes we feel the anxiety, fear of failure, and hopelessness in our waking life…   except…   we know it is not a ‘dream’ or is it?

Much of our angst in life comes from things we (or our culture and society) put upon us. We feel like to be a success, to be safe and secure, to be happy and content must come from one of the ‘ways’ dictated to us by ourselves and those around us.

God, on the other hand, wants us to ‘wake up’ to the ways God intended our lives to be. Peace, joy, love, and health are the markers of success in God’s eyes. Most of us get caught up when we think that these things will just be handed to us in some sort of spiritual cloud while we sit around waiting for it. But, the fact of the matter is that God wants peace, joy, love and health for us…   but we are the ones that have to take serious steps to make it happen. We are the ones that have to make a serious commitment to make it happen.

Paul teaches about hope in many places…   but especially in Romans 13:11-14 (these passages were included in a blog a few days ago…   and are the subject of my message tomorrow at the Waretown UMC):

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Or…   in The Message translation of the Bible:

But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

In short, we may have to change a lot about the way we think and live if we are to see what God has in store for all of us. We may have to act differently, make different priorities…   and above all else…   trust and hope that in Jesus God IS making a way for us.