Friday, 14 September 2012

Living inside Hope

I am currently participating in a thought-provoking book discussion here, considering some essays by Barbara Kingsolver. I hopped onto her website today and came across this quote: “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides” (from Animal Dreams). I think she’s spot on. Except that to fully live inside True Hope, we will run along the path of His commands, holding His hands. My Hope (and hers, and may she be given eyes to see this) is not in a safe building, a safe place somewhere….my Hope is in a Person.

When I think of Hope, I think of how apart from Him I can do nothing, but that if I remain in Him, I will bear much fruit. Even in my prayers....

“O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
Their poverty adds sin to sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone.
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings,
And wins their acceptance”
(Extract from “Continual Repentance”, Valley of Vision).

I LOVE the word “but”. God ALWAYS uses this word. On our own – hopeless. BUT NOW, in Christ – we worship the God of Hope and possess all the hope in the world! Our prayers, on their own…hopeless. BUT NOW, offered in the Name of Christ….a fragrance pleasing to the Father.

How does the bridegroom describe the words of His beloved bride?

“Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
    milk and honey are under your tongue.”
(Song of Solomon 4:11)

Oh! What love is this!

I will never forget the day, just about a couple of years ago, when I read these words and wept and wept because they confirmed what the Lord had been working in my heart over the previous few weeks:

To be a Christian is to believe that it is the Father who defines our identity and is to be believed against all inner and outer accusations to the contrary when he says of us ‘This son of mine’. To know that is not to skulk in the back pew; it is to come forward with confidence to receive the inheritance.” (Thomas Smail, The Forgotten Father).

I skulked in the back pew for far too many years of my Christian life, feeling wretched and worthless over my sin. Even now, I struggle with the temptation to revert to this way of thinking. But this is a denial of all that Christ has accomplished, when He once and for all paid for sin when He shouted out in triumph on the cross “It is finished!” It is true, His blood really has cleansed us from our sin and made us clean, when we repent and believe.

The words of the bridegroom again:

“All beautiful you are, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.”
(Song of Solomon 4:7)

Words of hope to feast on today.