We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God… — Hebrews 6:18-19 The Message
I am haunted by this passage. The promised hope. A spiritual lifeline. Take hold.
I know I need hope; I understand that Scripture calls it one of the three great forces of human existence (1 Corinthians 13:13). But I don’t really give it much intentional thought; I don’t spend time each day taking hold of it with both hands.
I think we have fallen into the idea that hope just sort of “happens” to us. We hear good news — that we are getting a promotion, that our child has done well in school, or that the MRI came back clear — and then we find ourselves hopeful. As if hope were merely a response to our circumstances. But when we treat hope so casually, when we wait for it to “happen” to us, we find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster of hope and despair, hope and despair — for our circumstances change as often as a politician’s platform.
Hebrews says that the hope we are meant to take hold of is “an anchor of the soul“ (Hebrews 6:19 NIV). An anchor — not a roller coaster. So hope must be something more solid that what news happens to come our way each day.
But what is this hope we are supposed to grasp? That’s where I think most people find themselves between a rock and a hard place. We understand at some level that God’s great “promise” to us is of course Heaven, eternal life. But we don’t really have imaginations filled with stunning images of Heaven. Far from it. We hardly ever think of it, and when we do, we conceive of very religious things like eternal worship or standing in the presence of God forever. And I will let you in on a little secret – hope only rises when we anticipate things we actually long for. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “We can only hope for what we desire.”
If someone promises you a year cleaning apartments, it would not fill you with hope. If they promised you a year in Hawaii, or Tuscany, or some beautiful place, you would leap for joy. You’d be so filled with hope. Because you would be anticipating something that was real, and concrete, and spoke to your deepest desires.
You cannot hope for what is vague, and far off; you cannot hope for something you can’t even conceive of.
Enter Jesus, who came to rescue us from all sorts of religious mistakes and show us — in utterly tangible and concrete ways — exactly what God has promised us.
First, take the incarnation: God Himself comes to us in the flesh. He speaks to us, walks with us, eats with us — so that there can be no mistaking what He is like. No more vague images of God-in-the-clouds.
If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus of Nazareth.
Here you can see how concrete He wanted to make things. How utterly real.
Including our hopes. Especially our hopes.
Hebrews says what we are urged to grasp is “the promised hope” (Hebrews 6:19). According to Jesus, what exactly is this promised hope?
In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields — whatever — because of Me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. — Matthew 19:28-29 The Message
This passage has so much power we must take it piece by piece so that we grasp what our Lord is offering.
First, Jesus calls our future “the re-creation of the world,” “the renewal of all things” (NIV). Did you know that God promised to renew all things? That He promises to restore even the world itself? Most Christians I have spoken to thought that God was going to destroy the world and we all go to some new place in the sky (“Heaven”). Not so. Listen to this passage from the book of Acts:
For [Jesus] must remain in Heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. — Acts 3:19 NLT
The restoration of all things. An echo of the words of Jesus in Matthew 19, “the renewal of all things.” Which is of course repeated yet again in Revelation chapter 21:
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” — Revelation 21:15 NLT
You need to stop and ask yourself, “Do I imagine my future as the restoration of my own life, and everything I love?” This is the promise of God. Think of it, allow it to be true. “My future is the restoration of my life and everything I love.”
Let’s keep trying to make this tangible and real. Let’s come back to Matthew 19 and second, notice that when Jesus speaks of the renewal of all things, He then connects it to very concrete, personal and precious things like “home, family, fields.” He does not speak of Heaven; He speaks to His followers about their real and tangible losses — relationships, loved ones, even places that matter (homes) and careers (fields). No vague promises of the sweet by-and-by here; Jesus is using very solid and familiar examples.
Your life, and everything you love will be restored.
If we simply hold up a great coming Restoration of very real and tangible things, we can go back into the Gospels and see just how often Jesus tries to illustrate this: the blind receive their eyesight back, the deaf are able to hear once again, the crippled are now walking, running, leaping. Do you see it? The miracles of Jesus are demonstrations of God’s ability and intention for restoration.
And then we have Easter. Jesus Himself is raised from death, but notice — He is still Jesus. The same Jesus they knew and loved. He even has the scars still in His hands. Jesus’ resurrection life is the greatest example of the coming restoration we could ask for, and what we see is that He is restored. So shall we be. So shall the world itself. As N.T. Wright has said, the early Christians “believed that God was going to do for the whole cosmos what he had done for Jesus at Easter.” (Surprised by Hope)
So what is the promised hope? The restoration of your life and everything you love, everything you have lost, everything you will eventually have to say goodbye to.
Who has made this promise? God Himself.
What are we supposed to do? We are urged to take hold of it, to grab the hope of the Great Restoration with both hands and never let go.
Then it will become for us the anchor of our soul; then it will become to us an unbreakable spiritual lifeline reaching right into the presence of God.
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Original devotion for FaithGateway written by John Eldredge, author of All Things New, copyright John Eldredge.
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Throughout your life, what have you thought Heaven would be like? How does what Scripture says about eternity change that view? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!