What Do You Hope For?

HeavensI’ve been catching up on my podcast listening (again) and was listening to some previous editions of the Catalyst podcast. There was an interview with John Eldredge relating to a talk he gave at one of the Catalyst events.

Several years ago I went through the “Wild At Heart” curriculum with some men here at church and then read some of Eldredge’s books. Epic was one of my favorites and I have always enjoyed Eldredge’s unique perspective on being a follower of Christ, a husband and how we look at heaven and the eternal life that God offers.

In his talk at Catalyst, his focus is how we look at heaven. He asked this question, “What do you hope for?” His question was meant to bring to the surface what we think about when we think about heaven. How we look at heaven and what we think eternal life will be like impacts how we live now. He said if we see heaven as “the never-ending church service in the clouds,” there’s not much to get excited about. If, however, we see heaven as the place where God makes all things news, where beauty is restored, where eternity is full of adventure, then we can long for that.

In the interview, the discussion went to what keeps us from being hopeful. The contrast was made between those of us who live in the US and those who live in poverty in other countries. It seems those Christians who live in poverty, especially compared to life in the US, live with more hope. Eldredge observed that most Christians in the states aren’t as hopeful because of our stuff as much from the fact that we are numb. We are so busy with all that we have and do in life, we don’t have (or take) the time to consider eternity. This life keeps us numb to the hope that God offers.

I think that question – What do you hope for? – is a good one to consider. We weren’t made just for this life, yet so often we live as if this is it. What do we hope for? What do we think God has in store for us? How does that impact how I live now?

Feast of Crispian

One of the emails I receive on a daily basis is simply called Daily Readings from Ransomed Heart Ministries.  (www.ransomedheart.com).  John Eldredge leads this ministry and much of the daily emails are from his different books.

Today I read the following story.  I had read it before in a couple of places, but for some reason it really grabbed my attention.  It calls for us as Jesus’ followers to rise up and enter into His larger story.  Really liked it and wanted to re-post it.

One more of my all-time favorite films- Shakespeare’s Henry V.  King Henry’s loving courage has captured the hearts of his people, and he has led them into battle against the enemy, just as our Captain has done. Late in the war, the mighty army has been reduced to a small band of warriors. Many are sick and many more are wounded. They come to the field of Agincourt, where they are met by the entire French army. They are outnumbered five to one; the French are rested and fresh, and they have a mounted cavalry. The English have none. Faced with such odds, the men are about to lose heart.

But Henry calls them up into a Larger Story:

“This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say, “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in their mouths as household words . . .
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d. 
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
(Act IV, Scene III )

The English go on to win the battle-a true story (!) and one of many we need to keep at hand in our journey.
(The Sacred Romance Workbook & Journal , 198-99)

What Was He Thinking?

I am re-reading “Love & War” by John & Stasi Eldredge.  It is amazing (& humbling) to read something again and have things jump out at you like you’ve never seen them before.  Really points out how easily we can forget things…even really important things.

As John & Stasi talk about marriage, they describe marriage as a picture, a “passion play” of God’s love for His people.  In chapter 2 they write this:  “God created marriage as a living, breathing portrait laid out before the eyes of the world so they might see the story of the ages…God is a great lover, and he created marriage to play out on this earth a daily, living, breathing portrait of the intimacy He longs for with His people.”

YIKES!

Our marriages – our lives – are to be a demonstration of God’s love for humanity. That brings to mind the question, “What was He thinking?”  I mean, really, I know me.  I know how I think, how I justify my actions, how I forget what is important or honestly, that I care more about what I want than what others want (more times than I care to admit). Yet people like me are to model God’s perfect love for others.

While that seems to be a mission impossible, it also should serve as a reminder that God is calling us up into His Greater Story.  It should remind me that my life isn’t all about me.  It should remind couples that marriage is more than just about achieving happiness or even just surviving.  It is about being that living, breathing portrait and pointing back to the love of God.

What We Really Want

A few things have happened over the past few days – a service I attended and stuff I have read – that have brought me to this thought of what we really want.

My fiancée and I are reading a book called “Love & War.”  It is about relationships and marriage and is written by John & Staci Eldredge.  In one chapter they talk about one of the main things we want/need in a marriage is companionship.  With all that marriage has to offer, a basic need it fills is that need for companionship.

Pause.

On Saturday I attended the memorial service of a gentleman from our church.  He and his wife were married 45 years.  There were four pastors who spoke at the service (and it only lasted an hour…wow!).  But the most powerful moment was when she spoke.  She shared about their relationship and how they made the most of the time they had together once they learned of his cancer.  It was a touching moment because not only did that service celebrate his life….it celebrated their lives.  Really…when you are married for 45 years, your lives are interwoven.  What affects one, affects the other.  You couldn’t talk about him without talking about her and vice versa.  What impacted people most during that service, in my observation, was the testimony of their relationship and that endured to “death do us part.”  I left the service thinking, “That is what we all really want.”

Pause.

Each February we talk about relationships in our Student Ministry.  You know, dating and the guy/girl thing.  As I was reviewing some material for it, I watched a video of some teens on the street who responded to various questions about dating.  One questions was this:  “What is the best thing about having a boy/girlfriend?” One teen girl said, “Companionship.” Even at 15 or 16 years old, these students recognized how important that is to us.

What we really want to have are those kind of relationships.  To be known by someone.  To know someone else.  To share.  To celebrate.  To go through hard times with someone.  To have that companionship that endures through the various stages of life.  That is what we really want.  And you know what is also true…that is what God designed us for.