Friday, November 5, 2010

Despair or hope; what do you see?

I had the privilege of a long talk with a good friend yesterday morning at Olivers delicatessen. Our conversation ranged across many topics, not the least being the recent political struggle for senate office in Colorado. A host of predictions and possible forecast about our country's future ensued, some positive and others not so positive.

As I drove home I began to think out loud before the Lord, and specifically about how easy it is to become disheartened at times with the political maze of injustice, squandering and manipulation. I then felt the Lord impress on my heart:

JOE, MEN HAVE DESPAIRED IN EVERY GENERATION. MEN HAVE ALSO HELD UNSWERVINGLY TO HOPE IN EVERY GENERATION. THE DIFFERENCE IS WHERE THEY'VE PLACED THEIR TRUST. Immediately Psalms 147:11 blazed in my mind, "The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love."

Those who fear Him, i.e. consider Him with awe, wonder and in submission in all their decisions - those find a special place in His delight. Furthermore, their hope is in His unfailing love; there is no power - even unto death - which can withstand the power of Love. It is mighty, it dispels darkness, it causes the weakest to become the strongest warriors and invigorates the strongest to live, and if necessary die, for a cause far greater than themselves.

My wife and I were also reading from The Lord of the Rings trilogy last night... There is a solemn part early in the The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo (our young and unlikely hero) realizes that he must bear the responsibility to destroy the evil ring of power and save the world of Middle-Earth from the ugly aggression of Sauron. He turns to his elder counselor and companion in Gandalf and says, "I wish that it need not have happened in my time". Gandalf responds, "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Later in the book, Frodo reaches a safe place - at least for a time - and a great counsel of revered leaders has convened to discuss what must now be done with the ring of power. Finally a resolution is reached to destroy the ring, but it must be done in the mountain of fire from whence it first came - a perilous and almost certain destruction for those upon whom the task is laid. One of the leaders remarks that the plan is most assuredly one of despair. Galdalf, the old wise one, again speaks. "Despair or folly? It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope."

Once again my mind turned to the many generations of upright and brave people who have face perilous times in history. I thought of the million man invasion on the shores of Normandy in WWII... every one of those men having a family - a mom and dad, possibly brothers and sisters, or a wife and children of their own. All sent on the hope of defeating Nazi Germany and ridding the world of the evil power that existed there. I thought of sons and daughters, young men, fathers, farms, and all that was risked in America's Civil War for the hope of bringing the dreaded practice of slavery to an end in these United States. I thought of the many families that loaded their lives into tiny boats on European shores to cross uncharted seas and face a harsh new world of perils, all for the hope of beginning a new life, free to worship and conduct their themselves in way that reflected the values that they'd come to share. I even thought back to a group of men in Jerusalem whose dreams and lives had been given birth to and then suddenly destroyed through the body of a young itinerate preacher. A few short days later there was a knock at their door and a couple of women told them that all of their hope had not been in vain, in fact their hope lived!

Then I thought back to the circumstances that surround us now in this generation. And though at times I feel like Frodo, wishing that many of these times had not come to us... I remember Galdalf's words, and realize that though to others our hope may seem as folly, and though we do not know the immediate outcome of every battle we'll face, this one thing we know; our hope is in His unfailing love. The very reason that His love is "unfailing" is because it has never failed. It cannot be defeated. Our hope is sure.

We may see unclearly now (I COR 13), but He is working all things together for the glorious end, and thereby beginning, a world made new - deplete of evil powers that roam and raze the good place that He once created. Let us then stand, in every circumstance and precipice to which we have been called to stand in this - and every generation - for the great glory and hope that is in Christ Jesus. For to this, we have been called.

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