"And Abraham, against all hope, in hope, believed." Romans 4:18...."And always be ready to give a reason for your hope." I Peter 3:15....."To live without hope is to cease to live." Fyodor Dostoevsky...." Oh love, that will not let me go." George Matheson
There is something I have come to know after more than 35 years of walking with Him. If you are truly yielded to, bound to Christ, He will lead you to a place, indeed, places, where there is no hope. None. At least none that can be seen or discerned by our natural senses. He will lead us into places that will completely fit the world's definition of "hopeless." In some aspect of our life, including ministry for Him, we will come to this place. In that place we have only one thing to cling to; the promise of His Presence. In that place is nothing tangible to our flesh. We only have His Word that there we will have Him. He doesn't promise us "proof" of that. He simply tells us it will be so....and then He asks that we believe Him. He asks that we believe Him when every fiber of our being hears the screams of the enemy telling us He's a liar. We are in Abraham's place, the place where all visible, tangible means of delivering ourselves is gone. All we are left with is His promise that He is with us, that He will not forsake us....and that He is not finished with us yet.
I always hesitate to share some aspects of my journey with Him. I do so because I don't want to appear to see myself as a great man of faith. I'm not. I've walked in fear and doubt. I've felt like He had abandoned me, and felt the accompanying anger and despair as well. It's just that in those places, I also experienced the very love that Matheson wrote of in his great hymn....His love that would not let me go. And in the experience came Truth about Him that I've tried to share, though likely, not nearly as well as I would want to. Even so, I'll try.
Twenty eight years ago, I found myself in the place of hopelessness. My wife was gone, and what I called "home" along with her. A ministry calling I knew was from Him was gone as well. I could fit all the material possessions I had into a small Japanese import. I didn't know where to go, and I didn't know what would become of me. More, a Church that I had given all of myself to, didn't seem overly anxious to give a lot of itself to me. I'm not saying that with rancor, and I also know that was not fully true, yet it is what seemed to be at the time. In the midst of it all, I knew this; He had promised to never leave me or forsake me, and in the emotional and spiritual quagmire that was my life, I chose to believe that. I also clung to the promise that His gifts and callings were irrevocable. I believed that I was still to be a pastor and minister of His Truth, though few were giving me any hope of that being so. Almost all the voices I heard, including that of my own family, were telling me that I needed to let it go and get on with my life. But I couldn't, because the one voice I never heard telling me the same was His. So, against all hope, in hope, I believed. His love would not let me go.
Space doesn't allow me to begin to share with you all the miraculous works He did for me over the next few years and all those that followed. Doors opened that only He could open. Doors that some had tried to shut, couldn't be because of Him. Step by step, He rebuilt my life....and my calling. And in the process, did deep spiritual surgery on healing the many wounds, even the deepest, that I'd experienced along the way. The scars of those wounds may remain, but they bear the name of Christ upon them. And the healing goes on. It always will...for all of us.
I've shared before how, for a time, I lived upon the very Church campground where I was ordained. Each day I would walk past the Tabernacle where that took place. Each time, I would hear the voice of hell shout in my ear that what took place that day was gone for me...forever. That what happened then was finished. And each time in response, His answering whisper was, "Don't believe the lie. Believe Me." Against all hope, in hope, I believed. In His time and way, He raised me up and established me. Not because of my faithfulness, but because of His.
No, I didn't become one of the much heard voices of the Church. But He placed me where He desired, and by His grace, I have sought to stand my post in and for Him. In the doing, He has given me a greater and more wonderful life than I ever thought possible. Circumstances gave me no hope. Many voices gave me no hope. He gave me hope....because He Himself is Hope. He can be nothing and no One less.....Is He so for you today? Wherever you are.....against all hope, will you, in hope.....believe?