Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

Breakwater image via stock.xchng

I've been listening to Together For the Gospel Live in the van this past week.  As we've run errands, shopped for groceries and clothes, and driven to church and other events, these wonderful hymns sung by 5,000 worshipful pastors have ministered to my soul.  There's something about the male voices.  It gladdens my heart to know that there are still men in the world running after Jesus Christ in strength and humility, being spiritual leaders.  I'm thankful for these men, these good shepherds, and the ones like them who are in my life.  But it's the good "old words" that really move something in me.  I don't know.  Maybe it's just because I like words.  Big ones.  Rich ones.  I love to write and I love to read and good words can capture my heart, be they arranged in prose or poetry or song.  But I think it's the truth of God hidden in those good words that my heart really rises to.  Jesus is exulted in these songs, and I am not.  I need that.  I need to sing about that.

I cannot tell you how many times our family has sung "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" together during our evening worship times. We love it.  It is precious to us.  My daughter loves to fall to the floor when we sing "all other ground is sinking sand." As we were driving to the bank today I was having her practice the pronunciation of some "big words."  Multi-syllabic words.  (She has a speech delay.)  Words like: tomorrow.  Elephant.  Ambulance.  Chimpanzee.  Righteousness.  I thought about why that last one is part of our everyday vocabulary.  "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness."  I flipped forward a few tracks on the CD to listen to the song the line came from, and then continued to turn that verse over in my head for some time afterward.

1 Peter 1:3-9 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  It says, emphasis mine, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

So when this old hymn says "my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness," it is sweet to me to think of what that hope is.  A salvation ready to be revealed.  A faith kept strong by God's power.  A knowledge that trials bring refinement as gold in the fire.  An imperishable inheritance, hidden with Christ on high.  Hope is only possible because of what it's built on--Jesus' blood and righteousness. Hope built on anything else is foolishness, and no hope at all.  "When darkness hides His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.  In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.  His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."

All that to say, I was thinking today about what my hope is, and what it isn't.  And about what my hope is built on, and what is really sinking sand.

My hope isn't:
the success of my kids
or the number of them;
the size of my bank account
or the size of my jeans;
the brands in my closet
or the name on my purse;
my involvement at church
or the people who call me "friend;"
the kind of phone I have
or the kind of food I cook;
the years I've been married
or the ring on my finger;
the car that I drive
or the house I call "home;"
the family I was born to
or the family I wed into;
what I have to do tomorrow
or what I got done today;
the schools I attended
or the career path I left.
My hope is not merely the sum of
what's left
when you subtract
my sins and my failures.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
Nothing.
And really, that's everything.




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