It was many years ago now that I came to the end of myself. I’d been pushing through and making do and trying to be saviour of a situation in my life and finally, one day, I came to the end of myself.
I breathed out to God, “I just can’t do this anymore.” and God breathed back to me, “Finally, now this is something I can work with.”
This was the day that hope began for me. I stopped carrying the whole load, I confessed my frailty, and God stepped in.
Today is the first day of advent. The definition of advent is this,
“the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”
The tradition of advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, with a different theme or focus for each succeeding Sunday. Today’s focus is hope. Those still to come are love, joy and peace.
Hope is an interesting thing. We may use the word hope to describe a wishful energy that we cloak ourselves in. Other times we use the word hope in what turns out to be denial, an inability to see life for how it is.
Personally I don’t believe that hope can ever be separated out from what God has done for us. To remove Jesus Christ from hope is to descend into wishful thinking, and wishful thinking is not hope.
Hope is born of a response to the initiatives of God. Divorced from an awareness of God’s initiative and we are unable to have true hope for hope depends, rests, and reckons on the movement and heart of our Lord.
Hope is not airy-fairy good-luck thinking. Hope counts on the active and vocal one true God. Hope counts on the work of Jesus Christ. Hope counts in the abiding presence of our Holy Spirit.
Without the God-head we have no hope. With God we have all hope.
Without God we must keep on in our own strength.
With God we live in the Lord’s strength.
Without God we go from one wish to the next wish.
With God we move from action to action, from honesty to honesty, from intention to intention, in ever-increasing strength, resilience, and wisdoms.
Hope is the assurance that no matter what life brings we will be okay for God is with us. Our self is secured in God and nothing can touch us in this place.
In hope we face our worst fears. In hope we risk forward. In hope we live out loud. In hope we rest.
In hope we trust “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”
This one is Jesus.
No longer do we have to manage our own sin. Christ frees us from having to be caught by the evil* of our own hearts.
(* the evil of our hearts is selfishness, greed, lust, hatred, mockery, accusation, condemnation, just to name a few. these are evil because they are so not God. we do not compare ourselves to each other to see how evil we may be, we allow the love and light of God to show us our true hearts.)
Simply put we do not have to manage on our own in any kind of way.
Religion would say, ‘Try harder’
Jesus says, ‘Rest in me’ Matthew 11:28-30
Religion would say, ‘Be perfect’
Jesus says, ‘I am making all things new’ Revelation 21
Religion would say, ‘Bring a sacrifice, keep bringing a sacrifice’
Jesus says, ‘I am your sacrifice’ 1 John 2
The entire system has been turned upside down with the coming of Christ.
It is why we celebrate.
It is why we hope.
It is why we can now live.