A quick (but extremely thorough) bout with a stomach virus provided some quiet in which to ponder the word “hope” in my preparation for this week’s study of Hebrews 6. Skidding to a stop, writing not one word, reading not one sentence, resting in the enforced quiet, I was able to see some road signs that the busy blur had obscured.
I’m learning that blogging can be an exercise in hope. Floating words out into an unseen readership that shifts from day to day keeps me wondering if the words I write will reach eyes who need them, and January was especially unusual. “Wow, look at that,” I thought to myself as, for a couple of days, the tiny bar graph leapt toward the heavens. And then there was the return to earth, and suddenly my “daily views” didn’t seem like enough anymore. The thought came to me in the midst of my virus-riddled thinking:
It’s just as easy for me to lose my hope in God when things are going really well as it is when times are rough.
At the end of the skid came the realization that I had begun to put my hope in numbers, a completely unworthy object.
The writer of Hebrews speaks of a hope that is an anchor for the soul, a mighty hope sworn by the immutable God concerning my future in heaven and the security of my soul in the meantime.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,” Hebrews 6:19.
Notice the strange configuration of images attached to this anchor. I’m no sailor, but the anchors I have seen always hang downward when they are doing their job. This anchor is running into the Holy of Holies, through the veil that was split by Jesus’ redemptive death. Spreading His own blood on the altar of sacrifice on my behalf, Jesus made atonement for me, and as my Great High Priest, he has secured a hope of future blessing that should be impacting the way I view every aspect of life — that is, if I have eyes to see. This hope becomes a lens, bringing focus to the mundane duties here at home and clarity to my motivation for any ministry activity.
Looking over my shoulder at the long skid leading to this pondering of the steadfast hope, I see in God’s invitation to lay hold of the hope set before me an implicit promise:
He is holding me in that hope.
Listening to a sermon by John Piper in preparation for next Sunday’s class, I was reassured that even though I become distracted by other lesser hopes, my end of the rope is not left dangling. The security of my anchorage in Christ does not depend upon these weak hands or my shifting loyalties. Rather, my continual holding fast is a work of God.
How delightful that the Apostle Paul strengthens this reciprocal metaphor of holding on and being held:
“I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me,” Philippians 3:12.
Through Christ’s enabling, we take up the rope holding fast to the anchor which has been sunk deep into the soil at the bottom of the New Covenant. This (and only this) is a hope through which to view with peace the rolling billows of everyday life.
Thanks for joining us in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book. These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday. This is the seventh week in the series, and if you’re interested, here’s last week’s blog post.
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