The Bridge of Hope

So I’ve been rewriting and reworking our neoxenos.org Web, and what an education it was! There’s tons of ministries underway, and lots of activity, yet all goes quite smoothly compared to anything I’ve seen before up here. Every ministry group is not only growing in size, but the maturity of people and the number of real workers and leaders just keeps increasing. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that with all the bumps and bruises along the way, but I’ll take those pains any day compared to the major surgeries and critical injuries I’ve seen in the past.

It’s a picture of the biblical concept of hope in-motion, which I taught at CT last week. Most people’s hope is merely wishful thinking, but biblical hope is rooted firmly in history. To watch God answer prayers, change lives, uproot past failures and plant new seeds of growth all create a hope with certainty. Additionally, our hope is rooted in God’s historical work with humanity as evidenced in the resurrection, prophecy and the profound nature of the Scarlet Thread woven throughout His Word from beginning to end.

Hope is what I see working in people’s lives around me, and it’s infectious. We get our motivation and courage from hope, and hopeful people keep pressing forward no matter what. This what God says:

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us… Hebrews 6:19-20 (NLT)

But there’s also many Christians living on low levels of hope. Why is that?

To be precise, hope is indirectly grounded in history, and there’s a bridge which connects history to hope. Faith is that bridge. Again, we’re talking about biblical faith, not the common definition of “blind faith.” Biblical faith is grounded in historical fact, and it means placing trust in someone (or something) trustworthy. Without faith, all God’s evidence and kindness will never produce hope, as it says:

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. Hebrews 4:2 (NASB)

“The word they heard” was nothing less than the revelation of God given at Mount Sinai through Moses, and those people saw some serious miracles. I wish I’d seen the Red Sea get divided, and can you imagine the awesome roar when the seas caved-in on Pharaoh’s army?

But all that evidence failed to produce any hope for those people. They wandered aimlessly and died in the dessert without hope. It’s precisely what happens in Christian’s life who stops trusting in God’s goodness and instead trusts in less-certain influences.

So you see these two outcomes, both of which demonstrate the powerful motivation and courage hope instills: those who trust in God grow increasingly hopeful, and those who see His goodness and still won’t trust are slowly ground into the Wilderness floor.

In the days of my youth Robin Trower came out with a kickin’ song called “Bridge of Sighs” (provided for your listening entertainment). As I grew older, Jesus Christ showed me the “Bridge of Hope.” I can say with certainty I prefer the latter!

[podcast]http://repo.neoxenos.org/internal/audio/BridgeOfSighs.mp3[/podcast]

Listen to the “Bridge of Sighs” podcast, and think about it…

What does it mean?

  • If I’ve lost motivation somewhere along the line, I need to examine where I’m placing my trust. I’m missing that “bridge of hope”.
  • If my faith is growing stronger, that means my courage and motivation is growing stronger, and that should be evidenced in my forward momentum.
  • Hope triggers risky steps forward. When I have a “sure and steady anchor” I’m willing to invest my time, emotions and effort in loving yet another “risky” non-Christian or baby Christian: I may get burned, but probably I won’t get burned. That’s what hope says. And even if I do get burned, I know it’s right and true to risk my security like that, and God will “bandage the burn” for sure.
  • If I get slammed to the floor, I can get back on my feet if I have hope.
  • Hope arising from my personal relationship with Christ means I can be courageous with anyone and anything.
  • This is a really cool fellowship, and their hope is contagious!

If you can think of another implication for this “bridge of hope”, I would be interested in hearing about it. Leave a comment below…

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16 thoughts on “The Bridge of Hope

  1. Katrina Yoerger

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I am teaching HC next week and I think I will use some of the questions you have above.

    For me, this past year, it has been hope that God does change lives that has kept me motivated. I have seen Him work in my children, in my outreach, in my marriage and in my own personal life. I love the picture of Christ being the anchor of my soul. My mind is like a big ocean with waves tossing me all over the place. Having Christ as my anchor keeps me from drowning in those waves.

    Thanks for all your awesome insights Keith!

  2. Kalie

    Would you say hope is a permanent love value? At the DMT retreat you talked about how we need confidence to love people effectively, and it sounds like the motivation and courage of hope are the source of that confidence.
    As you said this blog, we know we could get burned when we try to love people, but we hope we won’t. We consider it worth the risk, or else we don’t do it. After I got burned this year, it just made me want to love people better, more effectively. Is hope irrational? It’s based on faith, which has reasons behind it, but love isn’t rational…So what does that mean for hope?

  3. joesnake

    It must be very edifying, yet time consuming to compile all of the activities, ministries, etc. together for the new website. I’m excited about what I’ve seen so far.

    I’m struck by how your implications feel so much like what everyone wants in life. We all want/ need someone to love us and believe in us. We’re constantly trying to prove to our boss, coworkers that we can do the job- It’s really motivating when they believe in you, you realize that and they give you slack so you know in advance its ok if you mess up.

    I’m thankful that’s what God does. It’s super-motivating. We’ve got him suppling all the power and might behind our efforts and giving us the freedom to go in there and mix it up. We know no matter what happens he still loves us, plus there’s that whole eternity thing. We can be relaxed and confident and really “let it fly” because of that hope.

  4. kmcc

    As for love (or hope) being irrational, these are irrational in a fallen world to fallen minds, but they are in fact quite reasonable to God’s mind, given His framework. It’s the “Backwards Thinking of God” which, to God, isn’t at all “Backwards.” As we too grow closer to Him in our thought life, we too begin seeing the world through His eyes of hope and love.

    Thanks Joe & Trina for the marvelous feedback. It’s cool to hear how hope is full of substance like you guys specify.

  5. kyle.m

    this is interesting because i was never able to put what you are saying into comprehensible words. I always thought how brain-dead those people were in the wilderness. I would say ” God has done all these things for us already, how can we disregard that. It is just clear they had no hope, while the attitude I am expressing in the quote is very hopeful. It all makes sense now.

  6. jim-james

    With hope anchored with God’s historical work, we get the courage and motivation to have an impact and be significant to others, which is why hope is the bridge between faith and love. This bridge of hope will lead us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

  7. brian.t

    If I have doubts about doing ministry, I gain motivation by thinking about how hopeless this world is and how everything is so temporary. I do agree with Ecclesiastes 1:14 about working for the world:

    “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—-like chasing the wind” (NLT).

    Also in Ecclesiastes 5:15-17:

    “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—-like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry” (NLT).

    So the only hope in this world is in relationship to Jesus Christ so that we can learn to love others.

  8. Donna Urban

    This one has me speechless, motivated to trust the Lord, to cross the bridge of hope to faith and love, but otherwise speechless.

  9. Charlotte Plahuta

    Well, I don’t think I can think of another implication of this bridge of hope, but I do want to thank you Keith for these amazing articles on hope. They have really made me think more about the way hope has impacted my walk as a Christian. You are so right about hope triggering risky steps. I have found that it’s only been because of my hope in Christ that I have been able to do outreach I don’t think I could have done it otherwise. It is risky to go out and love a non- Christian. You don’t know how they’ll react to things or what they’ll do. But, only because of the hope Christ offers can we be secure in knowing that if they do react negatively it doesn’t change our identity. Our identity is knowing that I am loved by Christ and I am acutally useful in His plan. I think that’s acutally what gives me the most hope when doing outreach. I once heard someone teach about God using us in His plan. The man was talking of how blessed we are that God acutally uses us in His work. Now, I heard this before, but for some reason that day it struck me more than ever before. I realized just how blessed and just how grateful I am for this. God could do it all Himself if He really wanted to, but He chooses to use us. And sometimes in ways we could never imagine. So I guess in terms of outreach my hope comes from that one fact.

  10. justind

    With hope, I will be able to step out and trust in God, and also put trust into my brothers and sisters. Hope will be able to help give me trust, so I can not only trust God, but trust in my brothers, and be open and emotional towards them.

  11. mike.h

    as it says in phillipians “i can do everything through HIM who gives me strength”

    I love that verse because it can be applied to any trial. With that hope in Gods word i will learn to fully put my faith and trust in the Lord and absolutley know that he will come through and give me the strength to accomplish many things.

  12. Nick.s

    “Most people’s hope is merely wishful thinking, but biblical hope is rooted firmly in history.” How True! Those who have a “blind faith” have no basis for their faith and will fearfully attempt to cross the “bridge of hope,” but upon failure will look for new hope (e.g. career, money, possessions, another person). Without a foundation of biblical truths/history, the bridge begins to look more like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the results are devastating. We can never enter into the love set before us without the hope found in Christ Jesus.

  13. Jacqueline León

    Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
    and adds in Philippians 4:11b-12, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

    So no matter the circumstance, no matter how crappy things go in Paul’s life, he uses it all to glorify God. There he is, hanging in chains, and still he is telling others of the good news of Christ, because anything else, anything for his own gain (like getting out and not being in pain), is garbage. Paul of all people knows this, considering his former life and the Lord’s mercy on him.
    It’s difficult for Americans and other well-off people to come to this level of God’s rest. It’s a struggle to get through to ungrateful people that their struggles with finances and school aren’t that unbearable when they consider not only how God has already met our every need, but He’ll continue to do even more so if we seek Him first, as said in Matthew. It’s a struggle for me, too, when I fight with the thought that I deserve extra sleep instead of doing this or that. The funny thing is that this is all a gift, and we don’t deserve any of it. I’ll bet that Paul had come to fully comprehend and appreciate this truth and was able to fully rely on God. I mean, most of us don’t experience the kind of reality check leading to salvation that he did, but God is real, our problems, however petty, are real, and our submission to His authority in entrering His rest is worth the victory.

  14. J Small Z

    I really liked the applied bullets at the end. Hope is such an amazing thing. The Lord is so strategic! He knows what it takes for us to love others’ effectively in His name! He’s carefully laid down each step before us! He’s providing so much for us, and it’s all to build us up into co-rulers with him! To mightily step “under the curtain” and rightfully sit at the side of God’s throne! Man, investing time in the Lord’s will is such an incredible journey! It’s always a joyful and greatly humbling experience!

    I so easily turn to substitutes for comfort or pleasure. I struggle daily with facing my pride and taking up the Lord’s yoke over taking it on myself. With hope, the Lord can use me to encourage others and teach his Word! Hope is a wonderful thing…

  15. Leah.Z

    Oh, I don’t know. I guess hope is a bridge that gets us to the next level in our walk, but it is a struggle to stay possitive. This is why we need to get into the word and look at the history. We tend to forget what god has done in the past (bibically) and in our own lives. I need to give this one some more thought, but I think we need to keep thanking god for what he has already given us in times of need and struggle. This keeps us focused on what is to come not what we don’t have that we want right now.

  16. Rick

    Oh yeah baby… cool song, that Bridge of Sigh’s… at least I used to think so. Come to think of it, I must not have been focused on the words much at that time (Mid 1970s before I graduated from High School). I picked this song to sing at the wings warehouse a few weeks back and holy moley I got a spontaneous education! What a very dreary perspective…

    The sun don’t shine
    The moon don’t move the tides,
    To wash me clean
    Sun don’t shine
    The moon don’t move the tides,
    To wash me clean
    Why so unforgiving and why so cold
    Been a long time crossing Bridge of Sighs
    Cold wind blows
    The Gods look down in anger,
    On this poor child
    Cold wind blows
    And Gods look down in anger,
    On this poor child
    Why so unforgiving and why so cold
    Been a long time crossing Bridge of Sighs

    …a clearly incompatible view of things for a child of God. It was almost hard for me to continue ‘singing’ – if that’s what you call it. 😉

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