Thanksgiving has passed and the pumpkins are shriveled, ready for the compost pile that will feed next year’s crop. We’re waiting for snow here. It’s December in Wisconsin and we love white blanketed farm fields and the still quiet that comes in winter.
Yes, we’re waiting for stillness and quiet and white. The whole world’s waiting. Still and quiet and pure? Our souls long for this, ache for this. And this is the beginning of Advent—the longing, the aching, the hoping for what we cannot gift ourselves.
We wait for the One who is the Gift.
But where is He? A friend says he’s an agnostic. Doesn’t think much about spiritual stuff. Another says she’s an atheist. Doesn’t think there’s a God. Me? I believe in what my eyes can’t see because I see with new eyes given. And yet . . .
There’s silence, it seems, when I want answers loud and clear.
So do I still believe in the waiting—the wanting—the aching? Will I still follow?
Because as Jesus asked His disciples after everyone else left Him that day, no longer willing to follow, “Do you want to leave me too?”, they responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)
Where does one go when there is no place else to go? To whom does one turn when we hit hard reality and it hurts and we’re stripped bare?
When I opened the Bible for the first time ever—the Bible I bought with my babysitting money when I was 12—I read Matthew and I met Jesus. Matthew—a disciple—a man with flesh and blood and eyes that actually saw Jesus. And I read words in red—wise words—words of another place—words of a reality beyond the present and past—words of . . .
And I wanted holy hope more than anything as a 12 year old. Because I was a 70’s child and I saw pictures of war-torn bodies and eyes glazed in death. I saw pictures of babies starving with stomachs bloated. I saw families ripped apart in divorce. I saw children bullying other children with no remorse. I had a classmate murdered—beheaded and left in an abandoned car. I had a cousin murdered and dumped in an alligator-infested bayou. I saw a séance at a party where teenagers invoked the spirit of Satan and I was shaking scared. I saw adults positioning with money and power and influence and I knew it was wrong, somehow. And I knew this place—this earth—our humanity needed saving by something–Someone–greater than us because there was no way we were ever going to save ourselves. No way. I knew it at 12. I know it more now at 54.
And I read then about Jesus who said He was the Son of God—the Way—the Truth—the Life. And I read about this Jesus, this Son of God/Son of Man/Son of David, the PROMISED Messiah planned from humanity’s first refusal to follow holy hope. I read how He came to walk with us, live with us, die for us, come again for us—all out of perfect love for us—the marred—the imperfect—the rebels who think we’re good enough without Him—who think we can go it alone without God. This Jesus, the one who rose from the dead exactly as He said He would with thousands who witnessed and suddenly . . .
I had holy hope. Permanent hope in an ever-changing world that seems ever-increasing hopeless. Solid ground in tenuous circumstances. No matter what happens here. no matter if hell breaks loose here, Jesus promises hope because He is our only Holy Hope.
Markets can crash. Bank accounts can empty. Relationships can break. Sickness and death can come. Life as we know it can change in an instant. We are all dying. And we can’t change that.
We are vulnerable.
And hiding ourselves in the sands of our comforts will never change reality.
We are vulnerable.
Where is hope when all we’ve hoped in is lost?
At 12, I wasn’t going to wait anymore to find out. I believed what Jesus said about Himself—about us—about reality—about the future. Because when we’re talking about futures, I don’t want some human guessing game. I want a sure bet. And so, at 12, I started reading all the prophecies in the Bible—from beginning to end—from Genesis to Revelation. Prophecy makes up the majority of the Bible and it all centers on Jesus—God’s plan—God’s promise—God’s fulfillment, down to the last detail. And every—single—word—of God’s prophecy has occurred up till now. Even the secular world concurs. So I believe, absolutely, that every—single—word—of God’s prophecy that has not yet occurred, will occur, just as written. And that’s that. I believe.
Jesus is who He says He is. He did what He came to do. He is still with us working and if it weren’t for the restraining hand of the Holy Spirit here on earth, this earth would be a literal hell with no good thing. And the best news of all?
Jesus is coming. It’s Advent. Not just now. Not just this December. It’s Advent always—time to prepare for His coming.
He’s still knocking at hearts, waiting for a welcoming.
And so, no matter where we find ourselves right now, Holy Hope is already here in the Spirit, waiting to give all. And Holy Hope is coming again in resurrected flesh. And Jesus will do this because He promised, in His Holy Word . . .
All wrong will be righted. All tears will be wiped. All hurting will cease. All evil will fall. Holy will reign.
And till then? We wait in expectant hope. We work for His kingdom coming in expectant hope. We celebrate what we know but can’t see with physical eyes—we celebrate—Jesus. We see words in red and we believe and we walk and work in the never-ending power of His resurrection.
It’s December in Wisconsin and there’s no snow yet—no pure white and peaceful quiet. Just fog and mist and limited vision. I drove kids to youth group last night, white-knuckled hands on steering wheel, unable to see 20 feet in front of me. And I prayed hard not to hit a deer or another car. I prayed hard for God to lead me because I couldn’t see. And He did. He guided me through the dark night and the blinding fog.
And today, this morning, the sun is up and the sky is clear and the horses are cantering in the paddock, kicking up their hooves in playful joy.
There’s a new day coming.
Jesus has promised.
He is our Holy Hope . . .
The Light of the world.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1-3
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12