Hope


I was struck by Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I know that I have read this verse before, and I must have sung the song 100 times at least. But as it often goes with Scripture, I was challenged by it in a new way. See, I have long had this anxious streak that feared God would totally wreck my life and see me through it all so I would have this incredible testimony. It’s the irrational fears that are hardest to weed out sometimes, and God has been so gracious and merciful to ease shards of distrust out of my soul while I continue to function as a Christian and be seen as mostly sane. And then this passage reminded me: while I get hung up worrying whether God will take away any of the good things he has given, ultimately I will leave this earth naked, leaving even my body behind.

For me, this is liberating, not depressing – it changes my focus, like artsy photography where the background is all blurred, except for me it’s the foreground with all my concerns and complaints and fears and failures that has become blurry, and the background has exploded with crystal clarity: eternity.

As humans, we are born in a state of utter dependence, without any awareness beyond immediate needs. As we grow up, I guess we go on a quest to be independent, to learn who we are, who God is, and to love others who are in our life. We try to become something.

And along this way (with the help of the marketers, I think. Shiny lips will help you find yourself!), we buy into the illusion that we can really get somewhere! But I don’t think most of us are trying to get to where we actually need to be. Because it seems to me that Jesus’ relationship with the Father shows total dependence. He not only told his disciples to pray for their daily bread, but he did the same. With the ability to turn stones into bread, he went hungry. He deeply loved people but died alone.

Job 14:7-8 says, “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil…”

I wonder if this passage comforted Jesus as he poured his life out in ministry. I was thinking about him as I walked Nimoy the dog along a path near our place. This path is not scenic. The trees are showing no signs of Spring, and although there is water, it is too cloudy and fetid to call a stream. The brightest colours come from graffiti on the concrete wall surrounding the townhouse complex behind it. Across the thin band of water is a golf course with green trees, benches and perfect grass, but this path boasts only discarded cigarette boxes and faded spray paint. It wanders between these two symbols of “the life” – homes fenced off from strangers, a manicured lawn to spend afternoons playing golf – but it occurred to me that Jesus had more than enough life to give without all those trappings we chase after so often. It occurred to me that Jesus came to walk the ugly path.

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