For a high school project, years ago, we were assigned to portray our interpretation of how heaven and hell will look like. I remember creating my heaven as a lush forest, filled with life, moist ferns, and moss; a place of beautiful mystery. There was one student who portrayed hell like a desert, and I found that particularly interesting. Although I have never been to a desert, when I think of them I think of dryness, loneliness, desperation, but I also think of illusions or mirages. To illustrate, I often hear and even speak elusive “hope” phrases like, “I hope it doesn’t rain today, or I hope I get this job, or pass this test”. “Hope” in our day-to-day speech is not the same “hope” we find in the bible. In the Holy Scriptures, we see a living and a guaranteed hope, not some elusive, wishful thinking, but promises we can actually know for sure they will come to pass. 1 Peter 1 verses 3-6, reads, “ 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” When I read those verses, I do not hear a wishful thinking tone, I hear a confident, assured hope; a hope that can make one sleep like a baby at night. I think of our anxiety driven society today, and I think part of the reason for it is because we are not setting our hope in the Lord, the only one that can give us security in this life filled with uncertainties. Rather we are setting our hope in mirages like, imperfect people, our bank accounts, our degrees, our jobs, what we eat, our hope in ourselves and our efforts. No wonder why we are so anxious…all those things vanish like the wind and are not eternal. I recently watched The Mummy (1999) with my brother and there is a small scene where the character Ardeth Bay, says in Arabic after contemplating killing Rick O’Connor, and he says “no, the desert will kill him”. I think a life without the hope found in God, like the desert, is a very frightening place to be. The enemy knows if there is no eternal hope, there is no pleasant future. Satan will, without hesitation, try to distract us from the hope that is found in Christ and instead create empty hopes that seem so desirable to chase, for us to only come to find out they were simply deceptive promises. It reminds me of the quote from Dantes Inferno of what the souls will read when they enter hell, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.
My beloved, even in our darkest and driest days, where we just want to give up and our souls of souls sighs saying “what’s the point, anyway”; when we feel we are sinking in a pool of quick sand, look to the Lord, for He will show you the light of His living hope. Friends, the hope that God is offering is not a figment of our imagination for our weary and thirsty souls. It will not leave us empty or disappointed, on the contrary, it will leave us fulfilled, it will give us the ability to stay joyful even in the middle of a desert storm. I believe this is where how we love appears like a sun’s horizon above the sand dunes. If God is our ultimate source of hope, we can love the way God has intended us to love. We can love graciously and humbly, not expecting anything in return from others, we can love without having fear of getting hurt or disappointed, we can love unselfishly, absent of any arrogance…but without hope and not looking to YHWH as the rain for our souls, love will just be a parched desert in our heart, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14
What mirages are we chasing and putting our hope in? If we do not know, will we ask God to reveal any mirages in our lives? My prayer for myself and for you is that we look to God in faith as the source of our hope, the living water and hope for our heart, so that we can love like He loves. My prayer for those who have not received the Lord into their heart, and has not put their faith in Yeshua’s death and resurrection, is to receive this very truth today, because one day it will be too late. “And now these three remain, faith, hope and love” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Below is the song that has inspired me to write this post:
After a long day and stressful day, all I wanted to do was lay sluggishly on my sofa and watch something to get my mind off of things. As I was switching through the channels, helplessly, hoping something good was on, I stopped at the thrilling music of Hans Zimmer in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest.” The entire movie was about the pursuit of a heart… and to each one of the pursuers, to capture that heart meant all sorts of things. But the core of the motive was because it was going to make them happy. The heart wasn’t the real treasure; it was happiness. Turning the quarter around, the message of the voyage for happiness has been embedded in us from the day of Creation; it’s YHWH’s desire, so therefore, it’s ours as well. That cardinal truth of the soul has even been engraved in our Declaration of Independence. I researched the definition of “The Pursuit of Happiness” and I found the following: “The pursuit of happiness is defined as a fundamental right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence to freely pursue joy and live life in a way that makes you happy, as long as you don’t do anything illegal or violate the rights of others.” We are all searching for an everlasting happiness, and I am revisiting the truth that wisdom is what I should be pursuing because it is the source of true happiness. YHWH is the source and maker of true wisdom for He is called El De’ot- The God Of Knowledge and Wisdom. Godly wisdom is the key to the treasure chest that within lies true, untainted, and everlasting happiness. As King Solomon writes with the inspiration of God in Proverbs 24:13–14, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” I must remember that there is also an earthly wisdom (talked about in James 3) which brings forth earthly happiness, and if I know anything about this earth, all withers away as ocean water mists and dissipates in the air; so therefore, I must have God and His vast sea of true wisdom as my compass to direct me and guide me to my treasure.
In proverbs, it also says “happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.” This is so on the money, or shall I say, on the gold. When I do not understand something or understand what on earth I am doing wrong, then it is to me one of the most frustrating things on the face of the planet. I am reminded of the frustration that Murph, from the movie “Interstellar,” went through trying to break the equation to save humanity and wanting to get her dad back from an uncharted dimension. Or where a desperate father is trying to find the missing link in curing his son from a deadly disease in the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil.” When I do not understand, or there is ambiguity in the way I am walking, without confidence, it is really hard to do anything after that. My mind is unsure and scared, I feel vulnerable in the most unpleasant way… and so who wants to live a life with that mindset? It’s a type of frustration when you keep rowing your ship and it’s going in the direction you do not wish to go.
I have learned how just how salvation only benefits the one who seeks it, likewise, wisdom also only benefits the one who seeks it, and no one else, despite what others think of it. You are doing yourself a good thing when you get wisdom, Proverbs 19:8 says that “He who gets wisdom loves himself.” I noticed how it doesn’t say He who gets wisdom loves his neighbor. Proverbs 9: 12 also says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself.” And what will happen once we have grabbed a hold of godly wisdom and use it in our lives; what are the effects? Proverbs 8:32–36 says it, quite perfectly…(with no surprise!) “And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways . . . Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” Therefore, the loving command, found in Proverbs 16:16 is, “To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”
My matey, I pray with all my heart and mind that we sail to God and dwell in His Word all the more; for in Him and His Word lie the treasures of true life, wisdom and all the everlasting joy and happiness that comes with it. I pray that we use His Word as our compass as we sail the mysterious waters of this world and that we desire wisdom as if we will be left shipwrecked if we do not have it. I pray that you and I have faith that El De’ot will supply it to us by the masses if we genuinely ask. I know that the tide will be strong at times, and that I am going to make mistakes that are not going to glorify to Him, but God is a gracious, forgiving and loving God who will direct me and you in the correct path and will soon enough calm any storm.
From as far and as young as I can remember, when I became a Christian, in my heart, I knew that God did eye surgery on me. I saw that my perspective of life– of people and of Heaven– had been beautifully tinkered with. 2 Corinthians 5:16 states “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” As this verse reads, I never saw anyone the same; I did not see them as just fleshly physical beings, but beings with a soul, that after departing from earth will spend eternity with God or without God. I remember vividly in the 3rd grade of me sharing the gospel to my friends and talking to them about the love of Christ. I want to think that the desire to share Christ happened because I started to have, by the grace of God, an eternal perspective. When one becomes a Christian, they are graciously given a telescope and a new pair of eyes which allow him or her to see something very far beyond from what is physically present. That view is what we need to hold on to when the ocean of trials come ashore; for it is that acute and much needed perspective that will drastically change our thinking, attitudes, and hearts.
A life without Yeshua (Jesus), or a life full of trials and no hope, or a temporal vision, and most especially, a life full of distractions of un-important things can all cause us to not see what is really there. The enemy can cause us to not see what is really important like how light pollution blinds us to not be able to see the stars, which are really there and do exist. It is only when we decide to have a childlike faith that God graciously grants us with an eternal perspective. When this happens, the pollution dissipates and a clear sky full of gracious and glorious stars overwhelm us where we just want to stay looking up, but oh, how the enemy uses our human and temporal selves to weigh our necks down. I can grasp the operose to keep our eyes to the sky named “Future Grace and Glory” (as John Piper calls it) when things in life are being polluted with struggles, strongholds, unfulfilled deep desire, and unanswered questions. James opens up his epistle with this commandment: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:1-4). You are able to count it as joy when you have an eternal perspective. Take Yeshua for example: Hebrews 12:2 says “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” You can see the faith of Yeshua making itself visible through obedience by the power of the Holy Spirit, which first comes from an eternal perspective. Christ was focused on the joy that was set before him: future grace, and future glory. This is vital to have for it is this very perspective that Yeshua needed to treasure in order to have faith and obey the Father and to die painfully for the sins of the world. The faith and hope in future grace and future glory fueled by a great agapeo love, that was awaiting Yeshua after defeating death and Satan, was giving Him strength to persevere these horrific, unjust trials and also the ability to obey the Father! As stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And these three remain, faith, hope and love.”
I was talking about a beautiful concept with my friend of an analogy between the wardrobe
and Narnia (as in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and the Christian walk. The
wardrobe is a small, constricted, uncomfortable space, but it is only when you have faith and decide
to obey and walk further into the wardrobe that it leads you into the wondrous, vast and wide
Kingdom of Narnia. Similarly, the Bible says that the gate of everlasting life is narrow (Matthew
7:13) and when one obeys His Word, which can only be by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not by
human strength (John 15:5), you shall then walk into a wide space (or open fields of freedom as in
Psalms 119:45). Let us not lose heart, and let us telescopically navigate our eyes upward heaven,
gazing our vision towards Yeshua– the perfecter and finisher of our faith– and let us retrospect to the cross, into all of His faithfulness and past grace and pull all of that in as we presently walk into His future grace. In by doing so, it will enable us to see everything– past, present and future– completely differently. It is with this perspective of how and why we can call the day that our Holy Savior died on, “Good Friday”, how chains and strongholds can break, and how it can ultimately lead us to sanctification, the goal for every Christian (1 Peter 1:12-15).