These are socks…Hope

29 10 2014

In my last post I shared about how Coach Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for UCLA, would begin his first practice. He started off each season by teaching his team how to wear their socks stressing the importance of protecting their feet. Getting a blister on your foot makes you ineffective on the court. Bottom line remembering the basics helps you win the game.

What are the Christian’s socks? What are the basics we have to remember to be effective? I believe there are three; faith, hope and love. Today I want to focus on hope.

Hope is a well-grounded confidence that allows us to face reality. Let that sink in.

The two most common verses I use as a Chaplain are Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4. Both of these passages talk about what can happen during hard times. In Romans “we rejoice in our suffering” because we will gain perseverance, our character will be revealed and we will see where we have placed our hope. James wants us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials” because the end result will be full and complete maturity.

Two people can go through the exact same circumstance. One person comes out stronger and one person comes out weaker. What was the difference? I believe it is often perspective and choice. We have to choose to become stronger and we need the right perspective to overcome our circumstances.

For Christians I believe life is a win-win situation. When we don’t have bad things happen, it is a win. When we do have bad things happen, it is also a win because we can grow and become stronger as a result of those difficult times. There is a practical truth to this. When we look back on what helped us become a better person, many times it was a difficult circumstance. There is also a profound spiritual truth to this.

As Paul mentions in Romans, our hope comes alive in suffering. If we truly believe that Jesus overcame both sin and death and one day will return, everything we are experiencing here is temporary. This does not mean I want to go through hard times. It does mean when I go through them I can have confidence this is not the end of the story. I have hope.

This hope actually allows me to face the situation for what it is. I am so thankful Jesus cried at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11. Why? Jesus knew he was going to raise him from the dead. He knew this was not the end of the story. He also knew people were hurting. They loved Lazarus and watching him die was hard and painful. He was able to connect with them and share in their sorrow. He faced reality but was not overwhelmed by the situation. He had confidence in the rest of the story.

When my socks of hope are on, I face reality with confidence. If there is injustice I can stand against it and call it injustice. Why? Because I know Jesus will one day return and make the final judgment. If I have sin in my life I can deal with it effectively. Why? Because I know Jesus died for my sins and conquered sin therefore I can overcome this area of sin in my life. When I see suffering or death I can cry and mourn with those who are mourning. Why? Because this life can be hard however I will not be overwhelmed by grief and sorrow because I know the rest of the story.

Christian hope is not simply being optimistic. It is grounded in the reality of who God is and what Jesus has done. When we let this reality settle all the way down into our socks, we have a profound hope that anchors us. We face reality boldly and we impact our world radically.

Is there something you need to face? Is there a situation you are avoiding or minimizing because your socks of hope have holes in them or haven’t been put on properly? This is when a mentor is really helpful. Talk with someone you respect who has hope in spite of difficult circumstances. They will give you wisdom and insight that will inspire you. You will need to be in prayer and take the time to really learn what the Bible has to say. God will lead and guide. The result will be a confidence to look at reality and see…hope.





Double fisted grip

16 08 2012

Today we drop our oldest son off at college.  There is a crazy mix of emotions.  We are excited for him.  We are proud of him.  We are scared.  We are sad.  We will miss him.  When I was sitting in the parent orientation and they were showing a video on dorm life, I could feel the tears trying to surface.  My son is leaving home.  I have to let go.

I am thankful God never does.  In John 10:28-29 Jesus gives us this picture of his grip on those who follow him.

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

He is confident that no one can grab them from him.  Then, He goes a step further and says his Father also has his hand in the picture.  I love this picture of a double fisted grip.  I see it as us being in Jesus’ hand and Jesus’ hand being in his Father’s hand.

When our son was 10, I demonstrated this by putting a small rock in my hand and then wrapping my other hand around it.  I challenged him to try and get the rock.  He worked hard but was only able to pry a couple of fingers off the outer hand.  He still had to make through the second hand.  Needless to say the rock stayed secure in my double fisted grip.  (After he wrestled through High School and worked out all summer I am not sure I would try this now.)

How does this apply to our lives?  It gives us confidence as we face the day.  Situations and circumstances will constantly change.   We will have good days and not so good days.  No matter what our day brings at the end of it we will still be in the double fisted grip of God.  This leads to a change in perspective.  It is easy to see that this life is not always fair.  God sees it from a much broader perspective that includes all of eternity.  As I am sitting in God’s hand, I can begin to look at the world from God’s perspective (much easier said than done).   God never promised us an easy or safe life.  He promised a rich and rewarding life.  We live out our faith trusting God has a better perspective.  This gives us confidence.  A continuous loop is started.  As our confidence grows, we gain a better perspective which increases our confidence.

I want my son to have a rich and rewarding life.  I know he will face hard times.  I know he will face times when life will be unfair.  I also know God will hold him in that double fisted grip.  I will have to let go and have confidence God won’t (also much easier said than done).

Sometime today take a small object and put it in your own double fisted grip.  Thank God for his double fisted grip on your life.  My prayer is this simple exercise will increase your confidence and change your perspective.