images The ‘hope’ of what is to come is a promise that drives me forward.

That statement provides the context for this post, a post that you will find, open and honest. Perhaps the most open and honest I have ever written. (oooooooo, the anticipation…)

You see this post is all to do with hope. By that I don’t mean the current initiative called Hope, but rather the characteristic, the quality of hope.

One of the biggest foes I face in my work is discouragement, or indeed a feeling of in adequacy. Now many well meaning, well versed and downright annoying people will always point to the fact that those problems come from a lack of faith. At this moment, I’d like to pop one in the eye of those people who glibly condemn without ever having engaged a faith muscle or brain cell in their life, and say – you’re wrong.

Those conditions come from a lack of hope.

I was chatting to somebody yesterday, who said something to the effect of, “well you see Jon, God is limited by our faith..”. Now firstly, I thought – no he’s not, secondly it got me thinking to the real reason for us to despair, be discouraged or feel inadequate.

I don’t know about you, but for me personally I can be in one of two states. Sometimes I really ‘get’ the way God works. I understand something of the magnitude of his power, the way he can make very crooked problems and issues seem devastatingly simple, sometimes when I look at the world through His eyes, I see the way forward and my heart is achingly full of passion and zeal. In short, I’m then full of hope. Not some manufactured faith that I produce, but a natural response to spending time with a great God whose heart is to love.

Then sometimes I despair. I remember watching Blood Diamond, the film set in Sierra Leone with Leonardo DiCaprio and a huge rock. The scenes of refugee camps, child soldiers, wars. The normal ‘hard life’ of many people. I must admit, knowing in reality that some of these scenes exist, it got to me. I found myself with tears streaming down my face, and me almost praying, “Lord, I’m not doing enough…. I’m not doing enough…”. I felt such a sense of despair…. that comes from not seeing what the Lord can do, or in other words not having any hope.

It’s Monday and I’m sat in my office and all weekend my mind has been buzzing with thoughts and planning regarding “Life!” our new mission initiative which we believe we should begin in Zambia. The greatest temptation I have is to rush my thoughts, rush my heart, to rush it beyond the small origins that we must begin with. The problem is I know what the need is. I understand the problems and issues that affect the rural African church. I understand perhaps something little of the issues that affect communities. I understand something of what I believe those communities eternal fate may be, unless they know the love and practical salvation of my Lord. It all seems so overwhelming – I feel so responsible. I don’t want to begin small because I can see the magnitude of people that need something of Jesus. Perhaps that’s something of how Jesus felt as he wept over Jerusalem.

I’m frustrated that we don’t have the people at the moment to send to maybe 2 or 3 locations to help there. I’m frustrated I can’t just click my fingers and make it all OK. I would dearly love to have the resources to sort everything out, to make sure everyone heard of Jesus in rural Africa in a way that is relevant, engaging and just not so darn alien to them. I want to send a couple of people to Angola to dearly help the Church that I think is in so much need. Maybe one day I will have the resources, but that day is not today. (although if you do speak Portuguese and well you want a pop at it – let me know…)

The thing is, at the moment I don’t have the resources and so what will I do? Will I give in to despair or frustration? Whilst that is so tempting for us, it is essentially just quitting and blaming it on someone else. I don’t think that’s the way forward.

For me, some hope has been in order. I’ve never once asked God to centre me on the target of Africa. At times I’ve fought it. I’ve also got no doubt that my gifts and talents could as easily be used in my own country. In fact they have. However, for now, the Lord is calling me to punch a hole in the darkness in rural Africa. As he is calling both me and my family, I know he will also be involved in the execution of the task. The resources will be there, and the result will happen – literally and I love this saying – come hell or high water…

I’ve no idea why you are reading this, but it may be because you need hope. Spend time with the Lord, spend time thinking about his faithfulness and hold hope in your heart. That hope, vision if you like is the seed of everything that will be, of everything that you will become. Hold it and don’t let go. Even take the odd risk on it. As you begin to walk in it, you’ll see his hope rise ever higher in your heart and life. Then you will see his will reign and move in your life. I pray that you will see his hope in whatever you do.

The solution must be to have hope.


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