Guided by Hope or Bound by Fears
I’m fortunate to have grown up in and lived in a hope- filled environment. From childhood days in Indiana to teen years in the Alton-Godfrey area, the prevailing theme of our household was a hopeful view of the future. That’s not to say that our lives were without fears, worries and conflict. Each time our family moved, either across town, across the state or to a new state, we faced anxious moments. I worried about making new friends, finding places to fit in, and learning what it would be like in a new-to-me school setting. But, I’ve been blessed. I had loving parents, caring teachers and hope-filled churches to attend in every community where I have lived.
Our parents were part of what is called the Greatest Generation. They scraped to get by during the lean days of Great Depression and lived in the midst of the dark days of World War II. They raised their families during the turmoil of the late 60’s and early 70’s. They taught us to embrace a hope-filled future rather than clinging to a fear-filled present, or longing to return to a familiar past. If we cling to our past, huddled in a dark little cave, we will not see the bright future that is in store, for us. As we live our lives guided by faith, we see that God meets our needs in every situation. We need not fear the future, for God will guide us at every turn!
Such is the faith perspective of our Judeo-Christian heritage. We see it in the story of the Exodus, as we recall that the Hebrew people escaped slavery in Egypt, and journeyed for a generation through the desert lands to the Promised Land.
They fled a hopeless, fear-filled situation in Egypt to journey to a new place. They were guided by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The temptation to return to the past was strong, and trials and setbacks felt over-whelming, yet they didn’t give up. They listened to and followed God. They trusted God was with them, leading the way. The people learned to trust God and moved into a hope-filled future.
A similar story of hope in the face of struggles and fears is also found in the New Testament. The disciples of Jesus lived in the midst of social unrest and upheaval. As many of you saw in the TV series A.D.- The Bible Continues, the clash between the Roman occupation army and the Jewish Temple leaders made it very difficult for the followers of Jesus to fully embrace and proclaim his resurrection. It would have been easy for the first disciples to stay huddled and hidden from view, but their faith in a God-filled future allowed them to move into that future.
Our church is facing some financial and attendance setbacks. For some, our best days seem to be behind us, and our future is filled with fears and endless worries. I prefer to listen to God share with us a hope-filled future that calls us to reach out to the people who live around us now, and find ways to include a new generation of people who are transformed into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who seek to follow God’s guidance into a hope-filled future.
There may still be anxious moments and seemingly unsurmountable challenges to face, but let’s not give up hope! I chose to believe that God will continue to nourish us, guide us and show us a way forward. I look forward to traveling with you on our journey toward a hope-filled future together. Let’s face the future with hope in our hearts!
Rev. Bill Pyatt