A HOPEFUL FUTURE
Pastor Sherri Drury
Sometimes, God has the weirdest timing. During Week 1 of our current Heaven Series, we were encouraged to Ask three people you know what they think Heaven is like. This week we were asked to Ask three people you know what they think happens when people die. In both of these requests we were also asked to really listen — listen for hope, despair, or confusion.
Well, both of these Next Steps were fulfilled easily during my visit to the dentist last week. While I was getting a tooth fixed, the dental assistant and dentist jumped right into the subject of death and hell without me even raising the question. I am still growing as an active listener and truthfully, talking is still my default mode. How funny that God set this conversation to happen while I was unable to use the strongest of my social skills. It’s really hard to respond with a numb, open mouth, with any possibility of speech incapacitated further by hands and dental tools.
So I listened. I listened as the dental assistant expressed anxiety, confusion and even fear. I laughed at some of their humorous comments about what they did not want to come back reincarnated as. My interest remained piqued as they questioned whether hell would be personalized for each of our personalities and proclivities.
But honestly, my inner voice was also screaming: “I have so much to say here!” “I think about, read about and talk about these things for a living!” “We are deep into this subject at church!” I found myself eager for my ability to speak to return.
And in the end, my words were metered. “I hear you talking a lot about hell, but have you spent any time wondering what the alternative might be? What do you think about Heaven?” And when the dentist asked me what I thought Heaven was like, I told him how incredible it will be to stand in the presence of a good and loving and perfect God. And I encouraged them both to keep their curiosity about the afterlife and urged them to investigate who God is and what His ultimate plan is for us.
[And, please reply below and let me know about your experiences with the Next Steps over the last two weeks. I would love to hear about them]
I have no idea whether those brief comments will result in any life-changing discoveries for those two — or if they could even understand what I was saying with my numb mouth. But I pray for a sincere search and a found relationship with Jesus Christ.
And for me, this interaction brought back to mind this favorite motivating verse of mine:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.
Hope is both the anchor that holds us secure from going adrift, as well as the buoyancy that keeps us afloat. Hope is both the ladder that helps us climb out of despair and the solid rock that keeps us from falling into the pit in the first place. Hope is what keeps my chin up, my eyes ahead, and my feet moving forward. Hope is joyful confidence.
Like we were reminded this week in our study, hope is a transformer — turning grief into joy, anger into peace, and confusion into certainty. But hope is also what creates a wide divide between those who follow Christ, and those who don’t. We who follow Christ have real hope– even regarding death — and do not grieve like the rest of mankind. Those who do not follow Christ do not have that same type of hope residing in their spirit (1 Thess. 4:13). How sad!
Truth is paramount. Faith is foundational. Grace is necessary. And Love is all-healing. But isn’t hope something! It is life-saving and life-sustaining. It is like oxygen. I can’t imagine trying to make it through this life without it.
Here are some additional encouraging words about hope. They are also my prayers for you this week!
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)
- I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, (Ephesians 1: 18)
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Thank you God for offering true hope. Thank you Jesus for securing living hope. And thank you Holy Spirit for surrounding us daily with that transforming hope.